Wednesday, September 15, 2021

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

 Historians will rightly blame George Bush for many domestic effects that remained, e.g, an armaments industry in overdrive and a security state. 

Above all, there is a re-jigged justice system that has sanctioned the prosecution of combatants and militarised civilian crimes, epitomised by the extrajudicial detention at Guantánamo and "trials" in its kangaroo courts

Astonishingly, liberal democracies like Australia and Canada (and briefly, Britain and Germany) allowed their citizens to be caught up in proceedings that violated their own laws as well as American and international law. 

Zbigniew Brzezinski: father of the Afghan folly

Opportunistic, malleable, incompetent or merely dishonest, bad lawyers were at the heart of the Bush Administration's derailment of law. John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Patrick Philbin, Robert Delahunty, Timothy Flanigan, Daniel Levin, Steven Bradbury, Jim Haynes and Alberto Gonzales joined in memos that ignored the Torture and Geneva Conventions, "authorising" practices that first-year law students would recognise as illegal. 

"National Security" brought such things before. Although it's disputed, the law professor Scott Horton believes Bush's lawyers were as culpable as Hitler's Night and Fog lawyers, tried at Nuremberg in the Altstoetter case:

"Justice Department lawyers were ... charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes arising out of the issuance and implementation of the Nacht-und-Nebel [decree]. The United States charged that as lawyers ... they must have recognized that their technical justifications for avoiding the application of the Hague and Geneva Conventions were unavailing, because these conventions were 'recognized by all civilized nations, and were regarded as being declaratory of the laws and customs of war' ... the two principal Justice Department lawyers ... were convicted and sentenced to ten years' imprisonment ...This judgment clearly established the concept of liability of the authors of bureaucratic policies that breach basic rules of the Hague and Geneva Conventions for the consequences that predictably flow therefrom."  

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While Karen Greenberg has lamented the overall damage to America's rule of law caused by the 20-year "War on Terror", others are turning their attention to righting particular terror-war wrongs, e.g, Guantánamo, its inmates and former inhabitants, and the treatment of Detainee 001, John Walker Lindt.  

Among those speaking out have been human rights lawyers, prisoner advocates and members of the Guantanamo Bar. They point out that, following the end of hostilities in Afghanistan, there's little legal basis for military detention of "law of war" prisoners, not charged with war crimes. 

Many were non-combatants, seized outside Afghanistan, and only five percent were captured by US soldiers on the battlefield. All were presumed by George Bush to be unlawful fighters, fictional "enemy combatants".

Those who were in fact belligerents were often lawful ones, e.g, the five Taliban (see below) freed by Obama in a prisoner swap in 2014. 

They were fully entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions that the Pentagon had scrupulously provided in previous wars, e.g, PoW status hearings required under the Geneva Conventions and the US Code of Military Justice. The Vietcong received these, why not the Taliban? 

Instead, officials trying to follow the law were bullied, sacked or re-assigned (see Fitch here). 

Al Jazeera and the Times have more on the sordid history and present state of the Guantánamo project.


Sunday, September 12, 2021

Lest we forget....

 And now for my usual September 12th posting.  Stephen Biko was murder on September 12, 1977.

20 years. so much has changed and not for the better.

 I don't normally post on 9-11 and since I missed it I am staying true to form. I have a few comments and then I will do what I always do on 9-11 (when I don't miss it) and that is to turn this over to my good friend the talking dog- who was in NYC at the time of the attack and very close to the scene at the towers.

But first, let me just say that 9-11 brought out the worst in my country. Yes, we were attacked and it was horrible and sad. But our response was dismal. We threw away our constitution, we threw away whatever good will could have come our way if we acted with restraint and compassion. Instead we unleased a 20 year war, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people and locking up mostly innocent Muslim men so that we could claim we caught bad guys. And we knew very early on that the vast majority of those men were not terrorists but our government had to keep up the charade. We as a country did not care and things have only gotten worse. Just like having that monster trump in charge during the pandemic - we had different monsters for our 9-11 emergency- W and Cheney during our 9-11 emergency. Bad actors in charge during difficult times is not a recipe for hope. we have blown it big time and now we must wait and see if we can right the course.

So let us see what our friend the talking dog has to say--

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Welcome 2 America


Friday, August 13, 2021

From Roger Fitch and Our Friends Down under at Justinian

Struggling out of the quagmire

The Roberts Supreme Court Court and its obstructions ... Gerrymanders could see the Republicans take back the House ... Members of the "sedition caucus" to testify before January 6 committee ... Big money behind the claims of election fraud ... Trouble ahead for Trump lawyers ... Roger Fitch, Our Man in Washington, reports 

An "impulsive, mentally unstable and unbalanced individual who suffers from an inferiority complex" -  psychological assessment of Donald Trump provided to Vladimir Putin in January 2015.

"Rating Outlook is Negative ... The failure of the former president to concede the election and the events surrounding the certification of the results of the presidential election in Congress in January, have no recent parallels in other very highly rated sovereigns. The redrafting of election laws in some states could weaken the political system, increasing divergence between votes cast and party representation. These developments underline an ongoing risk of … difficulty in formulating policy and passing laws in Congress…" - Fitch Ratings, July 2021.

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As expected, senate Republicans filibustered the Democrats' signature voting rights act for the usual (racist) reasons, and because of their well-founded expectation that stonewalling reforms will produce enduring one-party government at the next election.

If only the Democrats could carve out an exception for the filibuster, limited to constitutional issues, but that's difficult, due to rats in Democrat ranks. 

Filibusters aside, Biden and his party - with the vice-president's vote - have a working majority in the upper house, but they suffer from two backsliders, West Virginia's plutocrat senator Joe Manchin, and the slippery Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Sinema is so conservative that an Arizona Republic writer queried why she hasn't joined the Republican Party.

Senate Democrats have additional ideas for getting voting laws through the upper house, but a determined and mischievous conservative majority on the supreme court might still strike down new voting rights laws. 

Since the ascension of Chief Justice John Roberts, the decisions of the court's right-wing majority have increasingly aligned with the agenda of the Republicans who appointed them, in "total war" on congress, evident in Brnovich v DNC, the latest judicial attack on voting rights in the supreme court. 

There's a new book out on the groundwork that the Roberts Court laid for the current Republican assault on voting rights - obstructed throughout American history by the  court - and a vast suite of civil rights laws. A Progressive writer has a damning list of the worst decisions of the Roberts Court since the chief justice's appointment in 2005. 

The supreme court has been blessing gerrymanders since at least the notorious "second" decennial Texas redistricting of 2003 (heard and decided by the court in 2006). 

That was preceded by a Texas Democrat walkout, a tactic deployed again this year. It's a shame Obama didn't act in January 2009 - the last time  Democrats had a filibuster-proof congress - to pass laws preventing such shocking gerrymanders as that of Texas in 2003. 

Now Republicans are on the brink of retaking the house of representatives through gerrymanders that the supreme court effectively approved. Only four Republican-controlled southern states are needed to do it. One hopes that Biden's AG will meanwhile vigorously enforce existing laws abandoned by Trump's AG.

The only place safe for voting rights legislation now is in the state houses, where a newly-blue Virginia has gone from nearly worst, to one of the best.


Friday, July 23, 2021

Update from detainee Nasser who was released to Morrocco and is now home with family


"I was born again on July 19. My birthday is no longer March 4. I was born yesterday on July 19." Nasser added, "I have no words to describe my overwhelming sense of happiness and joy. It is like a miracle after 20 years to be home and celebrate Eid together with my family. I want to thank everyone, all the people who worked very hard and spared no efforts to make this possible."

Abdul Latif Nasser prior to his capture (on the left), and, in the center and on the right, during his 19-year imprisonment without charge or trial at Guantánamo. Image via his lawyers at Reprieve. More on his case is available in the NPR podcast The Other Latif by Radiolab.

h/o to world can't wait for the quote and photos.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Detainee transferred to his homeland- Morrocco

 It has been years many since I have been able to report a detainee being transferred. Congrat's to fellow Chicago attorney Tom Durkin who has worked long and hard on Mr. Nasser's case. And big congrats to Mr. Nasser. I am sorry to report that his sister recently died - she worked so very hard on his release.

Read more here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021


 As per the ealier blog post from today the Biden administration is inching towards closure of Guantanamo with its proposed military budget. However, in a filing on friday the government missed its best opportunity to have the place closed forever. The brief failed to even address the main issue- Does the due process clause apply to the men at Guantanamo. This of course is frustrating but not surprising. Several of the attorneys who have been working on Guantanamo from the justice department have been there since the Bush days. This of course is one of my many complaints about Obama -- he left all the Bushies in place. 

Anyway, you can read more here.

inching towards closure...

 tiny steps but steps...

House panel advances $706 billion Pentagon bill: The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday voted to advance a $706 billion Pentagon spending bill to the House floor. Combined with a separate military construction spending bill, the committee’s bill closely follows President Biden’s request for a $715 billion Defense Department budget in 2022. The bill seeks to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility by prohibiting funds from being used to operate the prison after September 30, 2022, and would block funds from being used to support or facilitate offensive military operations conducted by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen. The Appropriations Committee also rejected an amendment from Representative Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL) to add language blocking transfers of detainees from Guantánamo to facilities in the United States, a provision that has been law for years but was dropped from the panel’s bill this year. The panel also approved a pair of amendments from Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) to repeal the 2001 and 2002 authorizations for the use of military force approved following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Hill

h/o to Eric

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Take 6 minutes aside and watch this....

                          A ship from Guantanamo.

( sorry -- I don't know how to avoid the commercial...)

Tuesday, July 6, 2021


There is not enough disparaging comments that we can make in regards to the finally dead Donald Rumsfeld.... But Fitch does a good job of filling in the gap from my posts!

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Rumsfeld: The Butcher of Baghdad

As Le Monde politely reported, "Donald Rumsfeld, ancien secrétaire à la défense américain et architecte des guerres d'Irak et d'Afghanistan, est mort". 

Or, as less respectful American opinion put it, "War Criminal Found Dead at 88"; "He Played a Leading Role in Mass Murder"; "Rumsfeld represented the very worst of American arrogance and violence toward the rest of the world"; "a tragedy that Rumsfeld died before he could be put on trial for crimes against humanity"; and "worst secretary of defence in American history". 

The Machiavellian Rumsfeld escaped the hangman's noose; under Nuremberg principles, he'd have gone to prison if not the gallows. Instead, the disgraced former secretary of defence outlasted the Abu Ghraib scandal, the ACLU's Ali v Rumsfeld, multiple European criminal proceedings, and dozens of cases involving Pentagon actions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantánamo.

He escaped thanks to the protection and stonewalling of successive US governments, including the repeated bad-faith invocation of the "state secrets" privilege

It's a sad chapter in American legal history.


Sunday, July 4, 2021

july 4 2021 musical interlude 4

 And that is it for today...

july 4 2021 musical interlude 3


july 4 2021 musical interlude 2


July 4 2021 -- musical interlude 1