Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Judge Denies Habeas Petitions for Two (updated)

Unfortunately J. Leon (the same judge that exonerated the 6 Algerian/Bosnians) denied habeas petitions for two men yesterday. The Judge refused to take into account evidence that certain statements made by the men were made after being tortured. Tough day for those men.
The ruling against the Yemeni captive, Moath Hamza Ahmed Al Alwi, can be found here. The ruling against the Tunisian prisoner, Hisham Sliti, can be found here. (thanks to Scotus for the cites)

Petition for Special Prosecutor for War Crimes

Click on the title and sign the petition to Obama's new Attorney General asking for a special prosecutor to look into our war crimes... also read the entire article and see what else you can do to help.

No Shame

Just when you think you have heard it all... there is this.
(Click on the title)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Part 2 of the Stephen Abraham Interview

Hats off to Kaptain Kanada for sending this on. In this part of the interview by Andy Worthington Abraham talks about the only Tribunal Panel he sat on... that was for my client Mr. Al-Ghizzawi. The Panel found him not to be an enemy combatant but yet he still sits at Guantanamo.
Click on the title to read the interview.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Is Gates guilty of perjury?

Andy Worthington discusses the affidavit that was provided to habeas counsel from Gates (click on the title). Maybe this comes down to the word "encountered"? One thing that is sure is that we have not received exculpatory information for our clients (information that would tend to show they are not guilty). So far we have been left to our own investigations for proving our clients innocence but it is a legal obligation that the government give us the exculpatory information. Will the "justice departments" tactics change on January 20th? One can only hope.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Harold Pinter RIP

In his lecture after receiving the Noble Prize in Literature in 2005 he spoke these words:

"The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law."

"How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand?".

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Andy Worthington Interviews Stephen Abraham

This is an amazing interview and when you read part two (next week) you will find that Col. Abraham sat on my clients panel (Al-Ghizzawi) when Al-Ghizzawi was found NOT to be an enemy combatant. Click on the title for more.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Less than one month

click on the title....

Sunday, December 21, 2008


As many of you know the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) has been the umbrella organization for all of the volunteer attorneys (like me) in the Guantanamo litigation. They have helped us stay organized and working as a group. Unfortunately among many of Madoff's indirect victims is CCR. -- among CCR's significant donors are several foundations who were Madoff investors. Loss of their contributions is going to be material.
Please consider donating to CCR

Saturday, December 20, 2008

medical records and independent medical exams

Well unfortunately the headline does not indicate any changes in Mr. Al-Ghizzawi's case but if you click on the title you can read how some of the Judges are starting to allow lawyers to obtain medical records and in one case the Judge is even allowing an independent medical review.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

dream team

The Wall Street Journal ran an opinion piece earlier this week suggesting that the Guantanamo habeas attorneys are in it for the glory and how nice it would be if big firm lawyers would volunteer to help out the poor department of justice lawyers. Well the Wall Street Journal did not see fit to print my letter in response so here it is (FYI, DOJ is the department of Justice... in name only of course) :

As one of the “dream teams” (my team is particularly small however because I am a sole practitioner) referenced in your opinion piece on December 16th “Gitmo Lawyers are the latest in Radical Chic” I want to commend you for the excellent idea that the DOJ gets some assistance from competent lawyers from the outside. If the DOJ had competent lawyers on it’s side that would treat the courts as an independent branch of government rather than an irritant to be ignored… or worse yet to be lied to, perhaps we could get these cases resolved. Competent lawyers could start by giving refresher courses to the DOJ attorneys on both the court rules and the ethical rules for attorney conduct…. Including the most important rules “obey court orders” and “tell the truth.” A little friendly advice about the harm that comes to the judicial process when they deliberately insulate its lawyers from unfavorable facts would go a long way too.

I have been in private practice for more than twenty-five years and I can tell you that if I conducted litigation in the same manner that these attorneys from the DOJ have I would have been sanctioned by the Judges long ago. You are absolutely right that competent representation promotes justice and any involvement to raise the quality of the government's representation in these cases would be a welcome improvement.

The Worst Place in the World

Click on the title to read Andy Worthington's discussion about the men released to their homes in Bosnia two days ago.
I was particularly angered to hear that these men who were cleared by a federal judge of any wrongdoing were still treated like the "worst of the worst" on their trip home. They were diapered and chained for the ride home... not allowed to even use the god damned toilet on the plane. Shame on us.
So now we have three men who have been released pursuant to a court order. As my friend the talking dog pointed out one fewer than the number known to have died at Guantanamo. Oops...As my other friend Almerindo (from the Guantanamo testimonial project) pointed out, five men are known to have died at Guantanamo so the number released by court order is two fewer than the number known to have died at Gitmo.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cert Petition

I finally got my copy of the cert petition I filed in the Supreme Court on behalf of Mr. Al-Ghizzawi. Thanks to Charly at the Project to enforce the geneva conventions for posting it on his website and providing the link. Click on the title to view the petition.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Judge Leon Rules....

Two important rulings from Judge Leon today (Judge Leon was the Judge in the case of the Algerian prisoners, five of the six were found not to be enemy combatants after their habeas trial...)
He ruled that the president (and others) are proper parties..
and that the government does not get a rebuttable presumption of accuracy and authenticity...etc.
click on the title to view the actual orders.

Three on their way back to Bosnia? UPDATED

The Washington Post is reporting that three of the five prisoners who were found not to be enemy combatants by Judge Leon are on their way back home to Bosnia. These were men who had settled in Bosnia from Algeria. Click on the title for the story.
Messrs. Nechla, Ait Idir and Boudells arrived in Sarajevo this morning.These are the first men to actually be freed because of a court order but in keeping with our general nastiness they were shackled for the plane trip home. Word just in that they are home with their families now.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


As always our friend from down under alerts us to the crimes of the Bush Administration....
I am not exactly sure why... (ok I do know why...) we in the US have to get the news about the US from places like Australia, Canada, Germany, Peru, etc.... but I guess until we have a real media in the US once again... or even what passes for one... I am forever grateful for the assistance of so many of you.

Friday, December 12, 2008

War Crimes- correction

I always thought it was Moazamm who was videoconferenced in but I stand corrected. It was one of the tipton three: Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal or Rhuhal Ahmed. Their detailed accounts are in the public domain which you can access on the CCR website:
For me, one of the most distressing accounts of our war crimes came in a training session I attended in the fall of 2005. One of the tipton three had just been released from Guantanamo a few months earlier and he was video conferenced into our training session. He spoke about how he and hundreds of men were rounded up and placed in metal shipping containers on an airport runway in Afghanistan. The men who were crammed into these containers and left to boil under the hot sun were screaming for air... they were screaming for their lives. What they got in return were bullets fired into the metal containers and the military personnel yelled "here we will give you some air holes." The man was a British citizen, he saw both American and Afghan forces at the base and knew from the voices that that Americans forces were involved in the massacre. When he was finally released from the metal container that he had been held in most of the almost 100 men were dead. The conditions were the same for the men held in the other containers, most were dead. Now the evidence of those war crimes is being destroyed.

Click on the title for more.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

new website

100 days to close guantanamo and end torture.
Click on the title and learn what you can do.

Senate Committee Inquiry into the treatment of Detainees in US custody

Bottom line:
Chairman Levin said: "The abuses at Abu Ghraib, GTMO and elsewhere cannot be chalked up to the actions of a few bad apples. Attempts by senior officials to pass the buck to low ranking soldiers while avoiding any responsibility for abuses are unconscionable. The message from top officials was clear; it was acceptable to use degrading and abusive techniques against detainees. Our investigation is an effort to set the record straight on this chapter in our history that has so damaged both America's standing and our security. America needs to own up to its mistakes so that we can rebuild some of the good will that we have lost."

Click on the title for more... or on the links below.
Executive Summary and Conclusions [PDF]
Statement of Senator Levin
Part I of the Committee's Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody - June 17, 2008
Part II of the Committee's Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody - September 25, 2008


I hope this is just the beginning! Click on the title for more.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Today's hearing before the Coordination judge

Click on the title for a summary From Scotusblog. Suffice it to say I was there and I have no clue how the court will rule... but a big applause goes to David Cynamon who presented the side of the Guantanamo attorneys. And now we wait to see how much longer we wait.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Plea agreements

Contrary to earlier reports in the media yesterday, and based upon information I received later yesterday evening all of the defendants accused of crimes related to 9/11 have withdrawn any attempt to plead guilty. As far as I know, as of now, any effort to plead guilty has been delayed until at least after the competency hearings of two of the defendants. Motions concerning challenges to the Military Commission proceedings are also still proceeding. What most of you probably recognize is that these men have been tortured and abused for several years and even under the kangaroo military commissions plea agreements under these circumstances must proceed carefully.

John Lennon

No I didn't forget yesterdays anniversary (28 years ago) but I was on the road. Click on the title.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


This week the Berkeley City council (thanks talking dog) will take up the issue of whether or not to ask the Justice Department to file charges against John Yoo. Maybe it is just me but the timing seems off a bit.... Maybe January 21st might be a better day.... (just thinking out loud).
John Yoo deserves to be tried and (hopefully) convicted of his war crimes and crimes against humanity and if you want to learn how you can do more to get the man behind the torture policies out of a job click on the title.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Supreme Court Grants Cert in Al-Marri case

Click on the title to go to Scotusblog and read more. The question presented to the Court:

Whether Congress, in passing the Authorization for Use of Military Force after September 11, authorized the indefinite military detention of a legal immigrant seized on domestic soil whom the government alleged to have conspired with al Qaeda to carry out attacks against the United States.

Al-Marri came to the US on a student visa with his wife and children. He was picked up and first held as a material witness then moved to solitary confinement in one of our military prisons where he has never been charged with anything. He has been held in Guantanamo like surroundings for more than six years. It is almost like the government is testing how far they could go: first with Padilla, a US citizen held without charge and then Al-Marri who was in the US on a valid visa.... next question is whether they will try to move him out of military detention and into state charges like they did with Padilla when the judicial heat was on.

The talking dog has more....

Makes you want to visit the US doesn't it?

A Nod to our Friends up North...

For those of you who have not been paying attention there has been a bit of real political life going on up in Canada. Harper, the Bush clone of the northland, thought he and Canada could sleep through the current economic crisis... seems the other political parties thought that was just a tad stupid so they formed a new coalition government to oust Harper and start taking care of the country.... in a desperate move Harper had parliament put to sleep for seven weeks and as I was reading a Canadian website peace, order and good government, eh? I was envious that we can't do the same ...but a piece of advice in one of the blog/comments... basically telling parliament to meet and prepare all the bills and have them ready to shove through when the door swings open... just seemed abit poignant...and I thought hmmmm, good advice for a certain incoming president too.
Good luck to our progressive friends up north.

Signing on to the International Criminal Court (ICC)

Click on the title to read an op-ed by Richard Cohen on why Obama should "re sign" the US as a member of the ICC.
A while back a commenter here asked why we couldn't send our Guantanamo prisoners to that court and it raises an interesting issue that I have been thinking about. If we signed on to the Court could we ask them to take the few (and yes very few) men at guantanamo who may actually be war criminals?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Obama should prosecute Bush officials who designed torture policy

Michael Ratner is the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights... the umbrella organization for all of the guantanamo habeas counsel... Click on the title to read his very insightful opinion piece on why we need to prosecute war criminals not just learn "the truth".

I have to say there is a certain joy in thinking that Bush may pardon all of these war criminals... that would leave the prosecution to the rest of the world... and there are some countries that just might do it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

goodbye to Odetta

Sec. Gates and Guantanamo

Gates is saying that we need legislation to close Guantanamo (bullshit) and to keep the men from being released to the US (bigger bullshit). We don't need any legislation. Men that are found innocent by the courts should be allowed into the US... the fact that they were kidnapped by us and have no where else to go is not their fault. And how can we look any country in the eye and suggest that they take some of the men when we refuse to take any?
Is this a trial balloon from the Obama Camp or a last gasp from the Bush camp? I sure do not know but it worries me.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Are Torture Commissions The Way To Go? (UPDATED)

There has been alot of discussion amongst those of us involved in the Guantanamo litigation about what the best policy is for unearthing and making public all that has happened with our secret prisons, torture, and other violations of human rights. Many have suggested something styled after the truth and reconciliation commissions and now the International Center for Transitional Justice has completed its year long inquiry and concluded that is the way to go...And the London times jumps in with this piece by Andrew Sullivan.
I am not convinced but perhaps it is a good starting point.
Hats off to Harpers Scott Horton for bringing these to my attention.
Click on the title to read more.

Several people have emailed me to ask why I am not convinced that truth commissions are the way to go. To put it bluntly: why bother if we are not going to use the truth to prosecute our criminals? When someone murders your neighbor you do not ask for a truth commission to look into the murder, you gather the facts and prosecute the individual. We are talking not just about murder but also human rights violations on a massive scale and the shredding of our constitution. If the truth commissions are proposed as a way to gather all of the facts for a future prosecution then I am all for it.... if however, as I suspect, the commissions are the endgame ...then screw it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Chinese Uighers and the power struggle with the Executive

Click on the title for a good run down on the controversy between the Bush Administration and the Judiciary over the plight of the Uighers... the Uighers are men that have been held at Guantanamo for almost seven years, the government has admitted they are not enemy combatants,the federal court ordered them released to the US but the Bushies have tied up their release claiming they are a threat to us... even if not to the rest of the world....sigh.

An Interrogator speaks out...

A US military interrogator speaks about the "guantanamo method" of interrogation used in Iraq and why it will not and cannot work.
Click on the title to read more.