Sunday, March 31, 2013

The perspective of some of the habeas attorneys of events at the base

The mass hunger strike at GTMO has drawn a lot of media attention. At first, the detainees simply demanded that the authorities stop searching their Qurans. As the strike has dragged on, however, many of the men, entering their twelfth year of detention without charge and no end it sight, are also demanding an end to their illegal, AKA "law of war" detention.
The military is currently applying brutal tactics to break the hunger strike, e.g., withholding water, reducing temperatures to freezing levels, and moving the detainees from communal living to isolation cells. A detainee’s motion to end these practices is pending. Judge Thomas F. Hogan has scheduled an evidentiary hearing for April 15.
The detainees are desperate, the camps were a tinderbox, and a new tough-guy commander of detention operations lit the fuse. If this commander is acting on orders from higher ups, consider this narrative an indictment of them. 

Talking Dog Interviews Pat Bronte

The talking dog is back to doing interviews and today's interview is with habeas attorney Pat Bronte. Pat is an attorney for two men at Guantanamo-one of whom is the subject of a current motion in the US District Court in which Pat and her co-counsel are seeking humanitarian relief for their client who is part of the on-going hunger strike.
Read the interview here. and if you are in the DC area and can make your way to the federal courthouse on April 15th to show your support for the men still being held at Guantanamo without trial or legal process that would be great.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Breaking news......

Seems the military has decided that canceling the civilian airline was maybe just a little over the top- even for them. Civilian flights are reinstated through the end of the year.

While Obama Continues to Bury his Head in the Sand

The hunger strike continues and the men are dying. Of course it is impossible to get a straight answer from the military so we MUST rely on the news from the men, the lawyers and of course the young soldiers who are watching this from the front lines and leaking the information out. At a certain point the military starts to force feeds the hunger strikers and that involves restraining the men in a specially made chair and then putting a tube down their nose -down their throat and into their stomach-(if there are no mistakes, they have been known to miss the stomach and puncture the throat and lungs....) and then they pour Ensure down the tube- it is a painful process and one that is fraught with medical peril. One detainee has been engaged in a hunger strike for 8 (yes 8) years- he can only be forced fed through one nostril as the other collapsed long ago. He is in wretched condition but that hasn't been enough to get the military to send him somewhere where he could be don't expect much for the rest of these men. Right now the military is only admitting to resorting to the force-feeding process for a dozen men- of course we don't know what they can do with a mass hunger strike like they are witnessing now- in the past the hunger strikers were force fed twice a day- it is hard to imagine that the military has the capability to provide this torture regime to a mass hunger strike. We know that some men have been hospitalized in recent days and it is only a matter of time before we have the first fatality.
Carol Rosenberg has these two reports-here and here.
Firedog lake has this wrap-up.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

When the General says something like this...

In congressional testimony last week General Kelly described what he considers a major reason for the hunger strike:

"They had great optimism that Guantanamo would be closed," Kelly said. "They were devastated when the president backed off."

General Kelly said detainees learned President Obama did not restate the goal of closing Guantanamo in his second inaugural address or in this year's State of the Union speech. In January, the administration also closed a State Department office dedicated to repatriating the prisoners.

couple that frustration with a new barbaric commander at the base and this is what you get....

Read more here.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Perhaps we should use boats? UPDATED

Just to make sure that our clients do not have the benefit of attorneys the new powers to be at Guantanamo have ruled that the planes that most of us take to and from Gitmo can no longer fly to the base. Perhaps it is because they don't want us reporting on the hunger strike as Jim White over at emptywheel suggests here. Perhaps it is part of the year long struggle we have been having with the powers to be in which they tried to rewrite the protective order making it so that many of the attorneys could only visit the base at the discretion of the military....I covered that story here.
Or maybe it is simply because Obama has given up on closing the base and hopes that if we attorneys (and reporters) have enough trouble getting there maybe the coverage of Guantanamo will disappear.
We have not put in this much time to just go quietly into the night.....

Carol Rosenberg has more here...

Jim White has more here on the ludicrous claims of the military who are trying to undermine the seriousness of the hunger strike by claiming the men are "sneaking" food...sigh. They are full of shit and they just can't help themselves.

Friday, March 15, 2013


March 14, 2013
The Honorable Charles Hagel
Secretary of Defense
Office of the Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20301

Dear Secretary Hagel:

We, the undersigned, represent men imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay. We write to express urgent and grave concern about a mass hunger strike taking place at the prison, now in its second month, which presents a serious threat to the health and life of detainees. We request your leadership in calling upon the authorities at JTF-GTMO to address the underlying causes of the strike and bring it to a prompt and acceptable end. By letter dated March 4, 2013 to the Commander and Staff Judge Advocate of JTF-GTMO, we reported information received from clients about the hunger strike and its effects on the men. We requested an answer to our letter by March 6, 2013, with information about steps the authorities were taking to address the worsening situation. To date, we have not received a response. Meanwhile, we have received additional reports from clients that the strike is ongoing  and that the health of the men has continued to deteriorate in alarming and potentially irreparable ways.

As detailed in our March 4, 2013 letter, we understand that the hunger strike was precipitated by widespread searches of detainees’
Qur’ans—perceived as religious desecration—as well as searches and confiscation of other personal items, including family letters and photographs, and legal mail, seemingly without provocation or cause.
We also understand that these searches occurred against a background of increasingly regressive practices at the prison taking place in recent months, which our clients have described as a return to an older regime at Guantánamo that was widely identified with the mistreatment of detainees. Indeed, the conditions being reported by the men appear to be a significant departure from the way in which the prison has operated over the past several years. No doubt as well, numerous detainees, including 86 detainees who have been cleared for transfer by President Obama’s Inter-Agency Guantánamo Task Force, are feeling hopeless in the face of 11 years of detention without prospect of release or trial and the continuing inability of the political branches to carry through on their commitment to close the prison in a just manner.

We understand that most of the men in Camp 6, which holds the largest number of detainees at Guantánamo, have been on hunger strike since February 6 to protest these practices. We have also received alarming reports of detainees’ deteriorating health, including that men have lost over 20 and 30 pounds, and that at least two dozen men have lost consciousness due to low blood glucose levels, which have dropped to life-threatening levels among some. The information we have reported has been corroborated by every attorney who has visited the base or communicated with their client since February. According to medical experts, irreversible cognitive impairment and physiological damage such as loss of hearing, blindness, and hemorrhage may begin to occur by the 40th day of a hunger strike, and death follows thereafter. We would think officials 2 charged with the care of detainees would consider these events urgent and gravely concerning; instead, JTF-GTMO officials have yet to offer any response other than to brush aside the reports by detainee counsel as “falsehoods.”

As a United States Senator, you took the position that mistreatment of prisoners at Guantánamo could not be tolerated because it was immoral and because it jeopardized the security of the United States. You also argued that the continued existence of the prison was one of the reasons why the United States was “losing the image war around the world.”We urge you now as Secretary of Defense to draw upon these important principles as you address the immediate situation at hand as well as the long-term fate of all of the remaining men at Guantánamo. Your leadership and swift action in response to this situation are critical. We request that you meet with a representative of the undersigned at your earliest convenience to discuss ways in which this immediate crisis can be fairly resolved, and to show that the United States has closed the chapter on mistreatment at Guantánamo. We would also welcome the opportunity to work with you, more broadly to help your office and this Administration fulfill its important commitment to closing the prison. Please direct your response to the Center for Constitutional Rights by telephone at (212) 614-6452, fax at (212) 614-6499, or mail at 666 Broadway, 7th Floor, New York, New York 10012.


Carrie Baker Anderson – Allen & Overy
Patricia A. Bronte – Bronte Law LLC
Jennifer Burdick
Lauren Carasik – Western New England University School of Law James A. Cohen – Fordham University School of Law Jerry Cohen – Burns & Levinson Terence G. Connor – Hunton & Williams Sarah Cox – Allen & Overy Cori Crider – Reprieve Stephen D. Demik – Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California Maya M. Eckstein – Hunton & Williams LLP Stewart Eisenberg – Weinberg & Garber, PC Robert M. Elliot – Elliot Pishko Morgan Omar Farah – Center for Constitutional Rights Jon Fee – Alston & Bird LLP Lauren L. Fontana – Killmer, Lane & Newman LLP Frank Goldsmith – Goldsmith, Goldsmith & Dews, PA H. Candace Gorman Eldon V. C. Greenberg – Garvey Schubert Barer
1 Not all signatories below have received direct information from their clients about the information cited in this letter, but sign to express their general concern about the situation that has been reported.3 Andy Hart – Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of Ohio Joseph K. Hetrick – Dechert LLP Susan Hu – Center for Constitutional Rights Gaillard T. Hunt Beth D. Jacob – Kelley Drye & Warren LLP Ramzi Kassem – CUNY School of Law Samuel C. Kauffman – Garvey Schubert Barer Pardiss Kebriaei – Center for Constitutional Rights Darold W. Killmer – Killmer, Lane & Newman LLP Jan K. Kitchel – Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt Eric L. Lewis – Lewis Baach PLLC David S. Marshall Matthew D. Melewski – Leonard, Street and Deinard Michael E. Mone, Jr. – Esdaile, Barrett, Jacobs & Mone J. Griffin Morgan – Elliot Pishko Morgan J. Andrew Moss – Reed Smith LLP Richard G. Murphy, Jr. – Sutherland Brian J. Neff – Schiff Hardin LLP Mari Newman – Killmer, Lane & Newman LLP Matthew J. O’Hara – Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP Stephen H. Oleskey – Hiscock & Barclay LLP Robert L. Palmer – McKool Smith Hennigan Cindy Pánuco – Hadsell, Stormer, Richardson & Renick LLP Adrian J. Bleifuss Prados – Law Office of H. Candace Gorman Michael S. Rapkin Martha Rayner – Fordham University School of Law David H. Remes – Appeal for Justice Anne K. Richardson – Hadsell, Stormer, Richardson & Renick LLP Sheku Sheikholeslami Erin Thomas – Allen & Overy Carlos Warner – Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of Ohio Gordon S. Woodward –Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP

cc: Andrew I. Warden, Esq.
U.S. Department of Justice

Monday, March 11, 2013


THE Senate's recent report on the CIA's "Rendition, Detention and Interrogation" program is secret and may never see the light of day (more here and here).
The Open Society, however, has an RDI report you can read now.  
Thanks to its handling of Mamdouh Habib, Australia makes the list of 54 countries who collaborated with the RDI.  


Thursday, March 7, 2013


Actually the video says it all- but think about 11 years of this....



"A guard in a watchtower shot a “non-lethal” round at detainees inside Guantánamo prison’s $744,000 soccer field for cooperative captives earlier this year in the latest disclosure of simmering unrest at the Pentagon outpost in southeast Cuba."

Carol Rosenberg at the Miami Herald has more on the shooting here.

Which just goes to confirm what Jeff Kaye wrote at firedoglake--there is a growing feeling that death is the only way out of Guantanamo. Read Jeff's look at current Gitmo events here.

Read more here.

Read more here:


Two Years After Executive Order, Guantanamo Periodic Review Board Proceedings Yet to Begin

Washington, DC - This Thursday, March 7, marks the two-year anniversary of the President’s Executive Order governing periodic reviews of Guantanamo detainees. To mark the anniversary, Retired Rear Admiral Don Guter issued the following statement:
“The administration promised additional due process for Guantanamo detainees, but these reviews are way behind schedule. They should have started a year ago according to the president’s own executive order. By missing even self-imposed deadlines, the administration is reinforcing the notion that it has lost control over Guantanamo policy. It’s time now for the president to task a senior-level White House official with managing the policymaking process on Guantanamo issues. This official should ensure that the periodic reviews of Guantanamo detainees commence immediately, and with robust procedural safeguards. The official should also ensure that the administration uses its waiver authority to transfer those detainees that have been cleared for transfer by the Guantanamo detainee review task force.”
On March 7, 2011, President Obama signed an executive order establishing additional review procedures for Guantanamo detainees to determine if continued detention is warranted. The review procedures, consisting of an initial hearing with an interagency Periodic Review Board (PRB), were to have begun one year ago, as mandated by the executive order. However, the Obama Administration has not announced when the PRB hearings will begin or what procedures will govern the hearings.
All the while, the administration retains substantial authority to transfer 86 Guantanamo detainees who have been unanimously cleared for transfer by the interagency Guantanamo detainee review taskforce that included all the relevant security and intelligence agencies. As 15 retired generals and admirals have emphasized, congressionally-established waiver authority now allows the administration to certify many transfers that were previously prohibited by Congress.
For additional details on a practical path towards closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, see Human Rights First’s recent blueprint on How to Close Guantanamo. To speak with Guter, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at or 202-370-3323.

Monday, March 4, 2013


March 4, 2013

Rear Admiral John W. Smith, Jr
Commander,  Joint Task Force Guantánamo
U.S. Naval Station at Guantánamo Bay,

Cuba Captain Thomas J. Welsh, JAGC,
 USN Staff Judge Advocate,
Joint Task Force Guantánamo
U.S. Naval Station at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

 Dear Sirs:

 We, the undersigned, represent men imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay and write this letter on behalf of habeas counsel about a matter that appears to be rapidly deteriorating and reaching a potentially critical level. We understand through reports by several detainees to their counsel that conditions in the camps have worsened to the point that all but a few men have now gone on a hunger strike in protest.
 Specifically, we understand that since approximately February 6, 2013, camp authorities have been confiscating detainees’ personal items, including blankets, sheets, towels, mats, razors, toothbrushes, books, family photos, religious CDs, and letters, including legal mail; and restricting their exercise, seemingly without provocation or cause. Moreover, we understand that Arabic interpreters employed by the prison have been searching the men’s Qur’ans in ways that constitute desecration according to their religious beliefs, and that guards have been disrespectful during prayer times. These actions, and the fact that they have affected so many men, indicate a significant departure from the way in which the rules have been formulated and implemented over the past few years.
 As a result of these practices, we understand that the men are suffering greatly and that a large number have gone on a hunger strike, which is now in its third week. As their health has deteriorated, we have received reports of men coughing up blood, being hospitalized, losing consciousness, becoming weak and fatigued, and being moved to Camp V for observation. Detainees have also expressed feeling increased stress, fear, and despair. It is clear that their health will only worsen unless and until the hunger strike ends, which requires taking immediate steps to address the reasons for their protest.
 The actions taken by camp authorities cannot be evaluated in isolation. As you are well aware, prior instances of mistreatment, including mistreatment of the Qu’ran, have led to protests, including widespread hunger strikes that have placed the prisoners’ lives and health in jeopardy. The practices occurring today threaten to turn back the clock to the worst moments of Guantánamo’s history, and return the prison to conditions that caused great suffering to our clients and were condemned by the public at large. If prior experience serves as any guide, the current practices risk dire consequences and will only invite outside scrutiny.
 The current situation has also affected and will continue to affect our access to our clients and our ability to effectively represent them, since the hunger strike has already prevented some of them from taking our calls, meeting with us, and being able to participate fully when we are able to speak with them about their cases.
 Accordingly, we write to request that you take immediate measures to bring an end this potentially life-threatening situation in the camps by addressing the reasons that give rise to it. Camp authorities must cease the arbitrary and regressive practices being reported by our clients, including all intrusive searches of the Qur’an.
 Given the urgency of this matter, we request a response to this letter, including steps the authorities are taking to address the situation, no later than Wednesday, March 6, 2013, care of Pardiss Kebriaei at the Center for Constitutional Rights by electronic mail, fax, or telephone. Further, we request that you meet with habeas counsel David Remes, who will be at Guantánamo on Monday, March 4, to discuss the matter in person.
 We hope this matter can be resolved quickly and cooperatively. We reserve the right to take further action should we not reach a mutually acceptable solution. Please contact us if we can provide you with further information. We look forward to hearing from you by March 6.


1 Center for Constitutional Rights
Contact: Pardiss Kebriaeil
David Remes
Carrie Baker Anderson
Jerry Cohen
Sarah Cox
Stewart Eisenberg
Ramzi Kassem
Ranjana Natarajan
Cindy Panuco
Martha Rayner
Anne Richardson
Erin Thomas
Carlos Warner
Gordon S. Woodward

 cc: Andrew I. Warden, Esq.,
 U.S. Department of Justice

 1 The signatories below act on behalf of most habeas counsel representing men detained at Guantánamo. 2

Friday, March 1, 2013


Many of you have read about the abuses at the military commissions which has included listening in on lawyer/client communications, confiscating and reading legal mail, searching the men’s private papers and searching their Quran’s (ostensibly for notes).  What has not made the news is that the other men being held at Guantanamo have been subjected to similar conduct. Muslim interpreters are searching the men's Quran’s  along with their personal papers and the military has confiscated their letters and pictures from their families as well as their legal mail. The military claims it is searching for notes that it believes are being passed in the Quran. According to reports from some of the men this caused a large riot in the "Gulf" block in February and now all of the men except a few with medical problems are on a hunger strike that is now in its 4th week. Keeping with its policy of secrecy the military has denied there was a riot and refuses to acknowledge that the hunger strike involves nearly all of the men at the base- while at the same time the men are getting weaker and being moved to the hospital....

The men at Guantanamo have provided two demands to the military before they will end their hunger strike:

 1. The right to voluntarily surrender the Quran under these conditions- the men would rather surrender their Quran’s than to be a party to the desecration by keeping it. (That will end the strike immediately);

2. Provide the Quran on an Ereader (this would ensure there are no notes being passed in the Quran and will allow the men to have the Quran without fear of it being desecrated).


Read more about this here.