Tuesday, January 21, 2020

and speaking of war criminals...

I guess not surprises here.....
however, I was reminded that one of the men recently added to my sleazy president's legal team has quite a history with  war crimes himself..... Patrick Philbin has joined the president's impeachment "team" following his illustrious career in helping John Yoo in his rather incorrect opinion that Guantanamo was outside the jurisdiction of US federal courts.  If that bad advice was not enough he then went on to assist (now appellate judge) Jay Bybee in his notorious torture memo.
As I said, no surprises here.

Psychologists/war criminals to testify

The infamous psychologists James Mitchell and John Jessen will be testifying about the tortured they subjected several of the men at Guantanamo to. These men have already agreed to settle some of the claims against them for their torture. The issue is (or at least one of the issues is....) whether the men who were subjected to torture and provided statements while being tortured should have those statements used against them in proceedings in which they face the death penalty.
Read more here.

h/o to John

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

From Roger Fitch and our friends down under at Justinian.....

Impeachment and other crimes

What about all the other impeachable offences? ... No immunity for impeachment crimes ... Trump remains unchastened ... Fair elections cauterised by the Supreme Court ... War criminals to the rescue ... Judgeships for ideologues and party hacks ... From Roger Fitch in Washington
"There is a mountain of well-known evidence in the public record ... that the current president is a racist, a coward, a bully, a liar, an ignoramus, a hypocrite, a narcissist, and a fool - in short a very bad guy. Yet by design, the Constitution entrusts an impeachment trial to the Senate, not to a jury selected for its impartiality ... If such Senators are capable of putting aside their longstanding views of the president's character to focus on whether he committed treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanours - as the Constitution assumes they are - then surely they are capable of the much easier task of setting aside any bad-guy inference that propensity evidence might engender." 
- Law Prof Michael Dorf dismissing the danger Trump could be convicted for the wrong reasons. 
There's gangster government in Washington, with a one-man mob taking over a major political party; even so, Donald Trump has received a setback. 
In December, the House of Reps finally confronted - albeit gingerly - the brazen criminality of the US president, a man whose "stench is slowly seeping into every corner of government". 
Remarkably, only two articles of impeachment were adopted, with the Democrat-controlled house impeaching Mr Trump for abuse of power (L'Affaire Ukrainienne) and obstruction of congress. 
There were so many impeachable offences to choose from, a veritable A-to-Z. The articles the house adopted didn't include the Mueller Report findings (e.g. an important obstruction incident), or Trump's response to Russian interference in the 2016 election. Flagrant personal corruption was also missing. 
In a letter to Speaker Pelosi, constitutional lawyers Bruce Fein and Louis Fisher joined Ralph Nader in listing 12 impeachable offences. Just Security noted Trump's pattern of soliciting foreign interference in US elections. The public interest organisation CREW concentrated on five crimes involved in the Ukraine extortion attempts, the basis for the "abuse of power" charge. 
The house impeachment was backed by a 658-page Judiciary Committee report, and also by legal scholars and historians.
The Judiciary Committee produced a memorandum on impeachment law, and one of its lawyer witnesses, Noah Feldman, later elaborated on his testimony, as well as on Donald Trump.
Just before the successful vote on the impeachment articles, Mr Trump sent a bizarre letter to Speaker Pelosi, abusing her and the Democrat House of Representatives for having the effrontery to seek his impeachment. The Washington Post fact-checker had a field-day with Trump's six-pages of persecution mania.  
As Dan Froomkin complained, it still wasn't enough to make the media question Trump's mental state (a few did), but the media did notice the shameful depths reached by Trump's Republican house supporters

Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Talking dog looks at Gitmo at 18

I like to turn to my friend the talking dog on days like this. Read his post here.
And yes, the bottom line is that Guantanamo remains important... as the dog puts it "the symbol of detached power."

Guantanamo is 18 today...

11 January 2020


Growing old in Guantanamo [Short Film]

Today marks 18 years since Guantanamo was opened. Hundreds have been released, but for 40 men, the nightmare is not over.



Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Guantanamo Week of Action January 7-12.....

Plans for panel, concert, and rally during
Guantanamo Week of Action in DC January 7-12:
18 years too many! 

Dear Friends,
Our plans continue to evolve as we prepare for the WAT Fast for Justice and Week of Action in Washington, DC January 7 - 12 to mark 18 outrageous years of Guantanamo Prison.

Click here to see our full schedule for the week. Please RSVP at this link to let us know you're coming.   In order to sustain this work we invite you to make a donation.

We'll gather on Tuesday to begin working together to plan our street actions and advocacy, and we'll wrap up on Sunday with a day of reflection, analysis, and planning for 2020.   Below are details for several major events during the week. 

January 9: Exhibit and Panel

Guantanamo 18 Years Later: Witnessing and Resisting Our Carceral Society

Thursday, January 9, 2020
Exhibit: 5:00pm to 9:00pm
Panel: 7:00pm to 9:00pm
The Festival Center
1640 Columbia Rd NW
Washington, DC 20009

Join the Center for Constitutional Rights, Justice for Muslims Collective, and Witness Against Torture as we mark the 18th anniversary of Guantánamo’s opening and bring the offshore “War on Terror” prison into a larger conversation on resistance within and to the U.S.’ carceral society.
Reflecting on Japanese-American incarceration during WWII, mass incarceration, migrant detention, and the prison at Guantánamo Bay, panelists will explore the criminalization of communities and the state’s use of confinement as a tool of social control. The discussion will center the ways in which prisoners and detainees have resisted their captivity, and how advocates have organized against those systems.
The event is free and open to the public. Dinner will be served. Please RSVP.

The Justice for Muslims Collective poster exhibition, Shattering Justice & Re-Making the Muslim Threat, will be on display beginning at 5:00 pm and throughout the evening.  The artwork and words provide a visual timeline of the ways Muslims have been marginalized, criminalized and dehumanized from 9/11 until now.  

Facebook event page with speaker list.

January 10: Music, Poetry and Political Comedy
Until Justice, We Resist

January 11: Rally at Lafayette Park, 1 pm
Justice Now: Close Guantanamo and End Torture

RSVP at Facebook event page.


Recent news on Guantanamo

CCR press release on Ali v. Trump
Attorneys Urge Court to Change Ground Rules for Guantánamo Cases.
Without Due Process, Detainees Face Detention for Life, Lawyers Warn

AlterNet | Alex Henderson
‘Guantanamo on domestic soil’: The Trump administration is using an obscure provision of the Patriot Act to indefinitely detain a Palestinian man

Military.com on NDAA:
New Law Will Keep Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility Open at Least Another Year

Andy Worthington on NDAA:
As $738 Billion Defense Bill Is Passed, Guantánamo Prisoners Are Ignored by Congress

Fasting during our week of action

Many activists who come to DC for our week of action will choose to participate in a liquids only fast.  Participation is completely voluntary.  This document explains our fasting rationale and gives fasting tips.  If you would like to join us at home to fast in solidarity, we invite you to let us know at witnesstorture@gmail.com so that we may stay in touch during the week.

We are grateful for your solidarity this month.  Together let's draw attention to the continuing travesty that is Guantanamo.  Justice Now: Close Guantanamo and End Torture!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

So this is 2020...

The 18 th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo is less than two weeks away (January 11).  For the 41 remaining men, one of whom is my client Razak Ali, there is no hope in sight.  Even if Razak were to win his pending appeal the win will ring hollow- it will just mean that he would get another trial with a judge that will never rule in his favor and more years will pass. In the early years Razak would always have a smile on his face. We would discuss with great  intensity the Harry Potter books, both of us laughing at his version of Azkaban.  There is no smile now. There is no laughing. There is only indefinite detention -without any charges ever having been filed against him.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

so this is xmas....

Torture and the ICC

I lost track of these proceedings and h/o to Robert for the reminder and link.

The chief prosecutor at the international criminal court at The Hague is working hard to get the court to look into the war crimes in Afghanistan. What I learned when I worked at the court is that it is ultimately a bureaucratic/political institution but kudos to the chief prosecutor for pushing this.
Hope dies last and all.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

musical interlude

We have a very dangerous president here in the US of A. Today some of our congressional representatives are doing the right thing. Unfortunately too many are turning their heads and looking the other way -- because they are more interested in their personal political fates. So, while we wait for the final vote let me leave you with this:

Monday, December 16, 2019

More on last weeks oral argument at DC Circuit Court

Attorneys Urge Court to Change Ground Rules for Guantánamo Cases
Contact: press@ccrjustuce.org
Without Due Process, Detainees Face Detention for Life, Lawyers Warn

December 11, 2019, Washington, D.C. 
– Today, attorneys from the Center for Constitutional Rights urged a federal appeals court to overturn a lower court ruling against Abdul Razak Ali (aka Saeed Bakhouch), who has been detained at Guantánamo without charge since June 2002, and to rule more broadly that the fundamental protections of the Due Process Clause apply to detainees and limit otherwise limitless detentions there. Mr. Ali had filed a petition for release together with ten other Guantánamo detainees, arguing that their ongoing detention is arbitrary and unlawful, particularly in light of Donald Trump’s stated policy that no one should be released from the prison regardless of the facts of their case. A lower court held that “the [Constitution’s] due process clause does not apply in Guantánamo,” which attorneys say defies Supreme Court precedent. 
“During the Bush administration, the Supreme Court twice struck down attempts to gut Constitutional protections against arbitrary detention at Guantánamo, but since then the lower courts have made it effectively impossible to win a case in court no matter how weak the government’s evidence is,” said Shayana Kadidal, Senior Managing Attorney of the Guantanamo project at the Center for Constitutional Rights, who argued today. “Today’s hearing asks the court to finally provide detainees the fair process the Supreme Court envisioned ten years ago.” 
In its landmark 2008 decision in Boumediene v. Bush, the Supreme Court held that Guantánamo “is, in every practical sense, not abroad,” and because of that the right to challenge one’s detention in federal court could not be denied. Today, Kadidal argued that the same principle requires that “due process”—the fundamental substantive and procedural protections guaranteed by the constitution—should also apply at Guantánamo. 
Attorneys further argued that Mr. Ali’s continued detention does, indeed, violate the Due Process Clause. He remains detained—for what will soon be eighteen years—based primarily on an eighteen day stay in a guesthouse in Pakistan associated with a suspected jihadi leader. Today, Kadidal told the court that after this length of detention, the government must demonstrate that there is a continued purpose for detaining Ali, using more reliable evidence than it has produced to date, and meeting a higher burden of proof. 
“My client lost his first appeal six years ago even though, in the words of one of the judges, he ‘never planned, authorized, committed or aided any terrorist attacks,’ because the burden of proof on the government is lower than what’s required in traffic court,” said H. Candace Gorman, a Chicago-based attorney who has represented Ali for 13 years. “If the legal status quo doesn’t change, Ali will die in prison without ever having been charged with a crime.” 
Forty men remain detained at Guantánamo. Twenty-eight of them have never been charged. Twenty-seven were held by the CIA at some point during their detention. Five have been unanimously cleared for release by all relevant agencies (including the State Department, FBI, and the military). 

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Oral Argument Tomorrow

For those of you in the DC area I invite you to come and watch the oral argument in the DC Circuit Court for my client Razak Ali. The issue is simple but also so very important -- does the due process clause apply at Guantanamo?
The argument is set for 930 tomorrow morning and my co-counsel Shane Kadidal from the Center for Constitutional Law will argue for Mr. Ali.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

A disturbing first hand look at the torture program by Abu Z

               For the rest of this article and more drawings by Abu Z (click here)                         (sorry I am having problems copying this so just go to the article...)

                 What the C.I.A.’s Torture Program Looked Like to the Tortured

Drawings done in captivity by the first prisoner known to undergo “enhanced interrogation” portray his account of what happened to him in vivid and disturbing ways.

Credit...Abu              Zubaydah, Courtesy Mark P. Denbeaux

Sunday, December 1, 2019

From our Friends down under at Justinian....

From Roger Fitch and our friends at Justinian:
Impunity is meanwhile everywhere. In an action viewed as damaging the US military, Trump handed out pardons to convicted and accused US war criminals, though it's hard to see what votes he will get out of it, especially among service members, some of whom dobbed in their lawless officers and NCOs.  
Defence opposed the pardons, particularly that of Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher, one of the most vicious convicted SEALs. Trump, responding to a Fox News beat-up, sought to completely exonerate Gallagher, while the Navy tried to expel him from the SEALs. In an extraordinary action, the president personally ordered Gallagher's retention in the unit, and sacked the Navy Secretary. 
What's next? Will Trump pardon the Blackwater mercenaries, convicted and sentenced in the shocking Nisour Square massacre in Baghdad?
Trump's sanctioning of war crimes begs the question, will he attempt to reintroduce torture, a practice he has condoned in the past. It's a timely subject, as a new film about the Senate Torture Report has put the notorious CIA torture program - implemented by George Bush - back in the news. 
Barack Obama effectively pardoned participants in the Bush administration program, with dilatory and cosmetic inquiries conducted while the statutes of limitations - except for murder - ran. We now know that, even had Obama's Justice Department prosecuted and jailed those involved, Mr Trump would have pardoned them, given them medals, and, as he actually has done in the appointment of CIA Director Gina Haspel, rewarded them.  
Trump has also successfully stonewalled the proposed ICC investigation into torture in Afghanistan and other Rome Statute countries where CIA torture occurred; the matter is now under appeal at the Hague. More here on the international efforts to hold accountable those countries implicated in CIA black site torture. 
Read the rest here....

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving....

Today is thanksgiving here in the good old U S of A. A holiday that celebrates the early European settlers making it through a rough period with the help of the native peoples.... then of course we went on to slaughter most of them...

So with that in mind I leave you with this musical interlude.