Tuesday, December 31, 2013
They were "ordered" by the court to be released in 2008 and now they are finally released. Their transfer has nothing to do with the bill Obama signed a few days ago---this could and should have been done years and years ago. Carol Rosenberg has more on this sad chapter here. I am copying the government press release just because it is such an incongruous description of the misery we have provided these three men: Detainee Transfer Announced Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby provided the following: "The Department of Defense is announcing today the transfer of Yusef Abbas, Saidullah Khalik, and Hajiakbar Abdul Ghuper from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the Government of Slovakia. "These three are the last ethnic Uighur Chinese nationals to be transferred. They were subject to release from Guantanamo as a result of a court order issued on Oct. 7, 2008, by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and are voluntarily resettling in Slovakia. "As directed by the president's Jan. 22, 2009, executive order, the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force conducted a comprehensive review of these cases. As a result of that review, which examined a number of factors, including security issues, these individuals were designated for transfer by unanimous consent among all six agencies on the task force. "In accordance with statutory reporting requirements, the administration informed Congress of its intent to transfer these individuals. "The United States is grateful to the government of Slovakia for this humanitarian gesture and its willingness to support U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The United States coordinated with the government of Slovakia to ensure the transfer took place in accordance with appropriate security and humane treatment measures. "This transfer and resettlement constitutes a significant milestone in our effort to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Secretary Hagel remains grateful to the Defense Department's Special Envoy Paul Lewis, and Department of State Special Envoy Cliff Sloan, for their and their respective teams' many efforts that facilitated this successful transfer. "Today, 155 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay."
Posted by H. Candace Gorman at 10:06 AM
Sunday, December 29, 2013
January 11th is the anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo and it will mark the beginning of the 13th year of being held without charge for most of the remaining men. Please let your voices be heard loud and clear that it has to close and it has to close now.
Posted by H. Candace Gorman at 3:23 PM
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Word is out that the president signed the "new and improved" National Defense Authorization Act which the president claims will allow him to release a bunch of the men at Guantanamo. You will note that not having the "new and improved Act" did not stop Obama from releasing 5 men over the last two months....sigh. Anyway you can read about it here.
Posted by H. Candace Gorman at 5:53 PM
While we await the president's signature on the relaxing of transfers out of Guantanamo (he could have released most of the men without that provision but now he will have no excuse....) let me share some stories that surfaced over the last week or so: The first commander of Guantanamo called for its closing. You can read about it here. One of the men being "tried" in the military commission was kicked out of court for daring to mention the secret detention sites in other countries. Read it here. Prisoner Shaker Aamer discusses the censoring of books at Guantanamo. Read it here. Child soldier Omar Khadr continues his battles agaist the repressive Canadian government of Harper. read it here.
Posted by H. Candace Gorman at 4:05 PM
Friday, December 20, 2013
Thursday, December 19, 2013
One of two Sudanese Guantanamo detainees who arrived home Thursday after release from the U.S.-run facility in Cuba said his jailers had "systematically tortured" him, with punishment "doubled" for those who attempted hunger strikes. Ibrahim Idris made his remarks in a news conference in Khartoum, hours after arriving in a U.S. military plane along with Noor Othman Mohammed. Mohammed pleaded guilty in February 2011 to terrorism offenses in a plea deal that spared him the possibility of a life sentence. He was sentenced to 14 years, and all but 34 months were suspended. Idris is mentally ill and has spent much of his 11 years at Guantanamo in psychiatric treatment. A federal judge ordered his release after the U.S. dropped its opposition in October. Frail and speaking weakly, Idris said, "we have been subjected to meticulous, daily torture," adding that those who tried to hold a hunger strike were "double tortured ... on an isolated island, surrounded by weapons." "We were helpless," he said. The second freed inmate, Mohammed, was unable to attend the conference because he was convalescing in the hospital, Idris said. He commended the Sudanese government and civil society organizations for working to secure the two's release. The head of rights group Sudanese Civil Aid, Mustafa Abdul-Mukaram, vowed that his group will continue to press for "due rights" of Sudanese detained in Guantanamo, and demand a U.S. apology for the imprisonment. He accused the United States of holding the prisoners for years based on false information. He added that some of the ex-detainees had pleaded guilty through unfair settlements to secure their release. Hunger strikes have been employed by men held at Guantanamo since shortly after the prison opened in January 2002. The U.S. has long disclosed how many are refusing to eat and whether they meet military guidelines to be force fed. Spokesman at the facility said earlier this month that the U.S. military will no longer disclose to the media and public whether prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are on hunger strike, eliminating what had long been an unofficial barometer of conditions at the secretive military outpost.
Posted by H. Candace Gorman at 2:22 PM
GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT BELOW: NOTE (t/h to TW) "THE IRONIC, UPSIDE-DOWN NATURE OF GUANTANAMO WHERE THOSE CONVICTED ARE RELEASED AND THE OTHERS, WHO HAVE NEVER BEEN CHARGED, AND MOST OF WHOM HAVE BEEN CLEARED, REMAIN IMPRISONED." Detainee Transfer Announced The Department of Defense announced today the transfer of Noor Uthman Muhammed and Ibrahim Othman Ibrahim Idris from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the Government of Sudan. On Feb. 18, 2011, Muhammed pleaded guilty in a military commission to offenses under the Military Commissions Act of 2009, and was sentenced to 14 years confinement. In exchange for his guilty plea and Muhammed's cooperation with prosecutors, the Convening Authority for Military Commissions agreed through a pre-trial agreement to suspend all confinement in excess of 34 months. Following the completion of the unsuspended portion of his sentence as of Dec. 3, 2013, the United States Government has repatriated Muhammed to Sudan. Idris was released from Guantanamo in accordance with a court order issued on Oct. 4, 2013, by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Idris has been designated for transfer since 2009 by unanimous consent among all six departments and agencies on the Guantanamo Review Task Force. As directed by the president's Jan. 22, 2009, executive order, the task force conducted a comprehensive review of Idris's case, which examined a number of factors, including security issues, in making that designation. In accordance with congressionally mandated reporting requirements, the administration informed Congress of its intent to transfer these individuals. The United States coordinated with the Government of Sudan regarding appropriate security measures and to ensure that these transfers are consistent with our humane treatment policy. Today, 158 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay.
Posted by H. Candace Gorman at 12:24 PM
Monday, December 16, 2013
U.S. officials say the two Saudis have been transferred to the custody of their own government after a security review. The men are 35-year-old Saad Muhammad Husayn Qahtani and 48-year-old Hamood Abdulla Hamood. According to the military's press release "As directed by the President's Jan. 22, 2009, executive order, the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force conducted a comprehensive review of these cases. As a result of that review, which examined a number of factors, including security issues, these men were designated for transfer by consensus of the six departments and agencies comprising the task force. In accordance with congressionally-mandated reporting requirements, the administration informed Congress of its intent to transfer these individuals." What the military does not mention is that these men were cleared for release more than 3 years ago..... Carol Rosenberg has more here.
Posted by H. Candace Gorman at 8:30 AM
Saturday, December 14, 2013
As I mentioned here my client's habeas appeal was denied about 10 days ago in a rather frustrating opinion by the DC Circuit--frustrating not only because of the misstatements of fact in the opinion itself-- but also because the appellate court continues to refuse to provide a serious look at the Guantanamo habeas cases. They have denied every single habeas appeal. Linda Greenhouse provides that serious look here in this op-ed. Thank you Linda Greenhouse for explaining so eloquently why everyone in this country should care about my client... and the other men at Guantanamo.
Posted by H. Candace Gorman at 11:21 PM
Hot on the heels of the military's decision not to further discuss hunger strikes at Guantanamo with the media word has leaked out that at least 75 of the men are currently on a hunger strike. I would quote the only article that I have seen about the latest hunger strike but it only contains military propaganda....word has been leaking out for the last week or so that the hunger strike was back in full swing and that the strike is most likely related to Obama sending the two men back to Algeria who had legitimate fears of going back to that country. The fact that the military is acknowledging that 75 of the men are engaged in the hunger strike probably means that most of the 162 remaining prisoners are participating. When I have more information I will update.
Posted by H. Candace Gorman at 11:11 PM
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
This is probably old news to those of you who follow Guantanamo news but last week the U.S. released two men to Algeria. For these two men it was distressing news as they both have legitimate fears of going back to Algeria. One of the men fled Algeria two decades ago to avoid political prosecution and the U.N. agrees with his fears. See also this account from Carol Rosenberg. Then there is my client who is also from Algeria. My client's only fear about returning home is that the stuff our country has made up about him might land him in prison in Algeria if he returns home. He is willing to take that chance as he just wants to get the heck out of the hell hole we call Guantanamo. Unfortunately last week the DC Circuit Court upheld the district court's denial of his habeas petition. Although I was not surprised that the panel decided the way it did--they have found reasons to deny every single Guantanamo habeas petition that went up to the circuit court but this is especially frustrating because the DC Circuit is willing to disregard those government documents that show the government is wrong in favor of non-evidence that shows the government is correct. Anyway, the last three pages of the decision have warmed my heart as it gives my client a shot at a cert petition before the Supreme Court-- In his concurrence,which is essentially a dissent (but for technical reason that I won't go into here it is called a concurrence) Judge Edwards said "The troubling question in these detainee cases is whether the law of the circuit has stretched the meaning of the AUMF and the NDAA so far beyond the terms of these statutory authorizations that habeas corpus proceedings like the one afforded Ali are functionally useless." So thank you Judge Edwards and I shall run with your words. As Studs Terkel was fond of saying, "hope dies last."
Posted by H. Candace Gorman at 11:33 AM
The "commander" of Gitmo- the now notoriously perverse Col. Bogdan- the man responsible for the current conditions and policies at the base (genital searches for detainees who want to visit or accept a call from their attorneys; genital searches before phone calls with family- an event allowed only twice a year; the taking of all of the mens personal papers,including legal papers and family photos; the unethical force feeding of protesting detainees).. the list goes on but I will get to the point... Bogdan stated on 60 minutes "that Guantánamo guards suffer nearly twice as much Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as combat troops." It was one of those statements that actually had a ring of truth about it---I mean these young kids at the base must see what we are doing -holding the men in these horrific conditions- indefinitely- with no charges pending against them...It is heartbreaking, infuriating and depressing. Couple that with the new protocals of searching the mens genitals before they can talk to their lawyers or families and I could actually see how the contradiction of the values of these mostly very young soldiers who want to protect "their country" could be upsetting to them when they see what "protecting their country" means to the powers of this country.... Anyway, it seems that the notoriously perverse Col. Bogdan was either not exactly telling the truth (or if he was telling the truth it is not the kind of truth our government would want to make known....) The military has now retracted the statement of the perverse Col. Bogdan as it seems he just made up that particular fact- as he seems to just make up most of the facts he throws around to justify his perverse actions. Anyway, the DC Circuit is reviewing the practice set up by Col. Bogdan earlier this year--to search the men's genitals and maybe they will have a ruling some time in the not too distant future...and maybe just maybe they will understand what a pervert this guy is and stop the policy- which would be nice as I would like to visit with my client again.
Posted by H. Candace Gorman at 11:03 AM
Definitive Report on the Hunger Strike probably the reason the Military will no longer discuss hunger strikers...
The Guantanamo Testimonials Project out of U.C. Davis is probably one of the most comprehensive sources here in the U.S. regarding all things Guantanamo. On November 20, 2013 the Project posted this report on the latest hunger strike by the men at the base. It took less than two weeks for the military to decide that it would no longer provide any information about the hunger strikers: “JTF-Guantanamo allows detainees to peacefully protest, but will not further their protests by reporting the numbers to the public,” Filostrat said. “The release of this information serves no operational purpose and detracts from the more important issues, which are the welfare of detainees and the safety and security of our troops.” My guess is that this is not a coincidence. The facts as outlined in the report from the Guantanamo Testimonials Project show in hard cold numbers the extent of the hunger strike and the unethical response by the military to that peaceful process. Truthout has more here.
Posted by H. Candace Gorman at 10:15 AM
You can read the story here and keep this fact in mind--- that Nelson Mandela was on the U.S.lists of terrorist-- when this same government (my government) makes its absurd claims about the men held at Guantanamo. As one of the other attorneys from the Gitmo bar mentioned,these government officials that considered Mandela a terrorist are the same people/agencies that have claimed that all the men at Guantanamo are terrorists....and these are the same people/agencies that have claimed that the men released from Guantanamo have high recidivism rates. Unfortunately my country has come to believe that anyone who questions authority (especially the authority of the U.S.)is a terrorist---which of course put Mandela at the top of the list--- but that list also contains the names of former Guantanamo "detainees" who dare to speak out in protest about their captivity and dare to challenge the U.S. government with their words (not with guns or drones)....My government claims that those former Guantanamo detainees have returned to the battlefield--that is because the battlefield is not in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, etc.... the battlefield is in the hearts and minds of people around the globe that challenge corrupt authority. It was probably words like these that kept Mandela on the U.S. list of terrorists for so many years: “If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care,” he said."
Posted by H. Candace Gorman at 9:40 AM