Tuesday, December 29, 2015

I will believe it when I see it!

Rumor is that 17 will be released in January and three men are slated for the periodic review board during that same month.
Read more here.

As if he needed any help......

This article explains the obstacles that the Pentagon has put in front of Obama in closing Guantanamo. I would just add that Obama has done enough on his own to foreclose closing the place.
Read more here.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

From Our Friends Down under at Justinian....

US Supreme Court's dreadful legacy ... Fifteenth anniversary of Bush v Gore - the decision that "changed everything" ... The environmental hazards of international "trade" agreements ... Guantánamo prisoner held for 13 years in a case of mistaken identity ... Roger Fitch, Our Man in Washington 

The Pentagon has admitted wrongly holding a Guantánamo prisoner for 13 years in a case of mistaken identity. 
It seems Mustafa al-Shamiri was not "al-Qaida" after all. Even so, he was deemed one of those hapless "low-level fighters" or "foot soldiers", as the Pentagon and its faithful media stenographers categorise men who, in previous wars, were classified as combatants entitled to consideration as prisoners of war.
No journalists ever ask why men are being "cleared" for release who were never properly classified for detention in the first place, i.e. at the time of their apprehension, by following the requirements of the Third Geneva Convention and the US Uniform Code of Military Justice.
After the adoption of the Geneva Conventions in 1949, and until the war in Afghanistan, the US never failed to extend prisoner of war status hearings to opposing soldiers, even the Viet Cong.  
Before Afghanistan, the US never claimed that a country it was fighting had no government; indeed, in the years before 9/11, Taliban officials were welcomed and entertained in George Bush's home state, discussing pipelines and oil wells.
When the war broke out in Afghanistan, commanding General Tommy Franks began preparations for the treatment of prisoners of war and the conduct of the independent "Article 5" hearings required under GCIII and the UCMJ.  He was stopped by the Bush Pentagon.
The first Guantánamo commandant, Brig. Gen. Rick Baccus, had signs put-up around the camp explaining the prisoners' rights under the Geneva Conventions and was planning for the provision of the amenities allowed to prisoners of war by GCIII. He was summarily replaced by a commander who accorded no Geneva Conventions rights - not even the basic rights of Common Article Three. 
Still, no media proprietors inquired - in 2002 or afterwards - why prisoners from the Afghanistan war were different, why they were never recognised as soldiers of Afghanistan, why they were denied en masse their Article 5 hearings without which they were presumedto be prisoners of war.
In fact, the trial judge in the Hamidullin case (see previous post) did ruminate on the matter before deciding he could try the Taliban soldier Irek Hamidullin for opposing US soldiers in Afghanistan.  
Hamidullin has now been sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years for essentially nothing. No Americans were harmed.
According to one news report, the judge found Hamidullin "wasn't a lawful combatant because the Taliban and its affiliated groups lack a clearly defined command structure and don't adhere to the laws and customs of war".   
There is no such requirement, however, for government forces. Article 4 of GIII states: 
A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:
(1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.
More here on a man who was held in irregular detention in Afghanistan for five years before being brought to the US for prosecution for the "crime" of opposing US invading forces.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Shaker Aamer gives his first full interview

You can watch the full interview here. It is more than an hour long.

If you want a shorter version go here.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Morrocan detainee released from Gitmo still held by Morroco

It was not enough that Younous Chekkouri was wrongfully held at Guantanamo for 13 years... when he was finally released back to his homeland in Morroco he was imprisoned yet again- based on the allegation made by the US military while holding him. The U.S. in a rare apology admitted that the reason it held Chekkouri all of those years was a mistake- but that has not been enough to secure his freedom. Chekkouri has now been held in prison in Morocco for more than 3 months-- with no end insight.
Read more here.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Obama honors war criminal Dick Cheney

First he protected Cheney from prosecution and now Cheney has been honored with a marble bust in Congress--- and Biden and Obama participated in the accolades... Read more here.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Periodic Review Board....

As I have mentioned in previous posts- the term "periodic" takes on new meaning when it comes to the review of the status of the forever detainees (those detainees who have not been cleared for release nor charged with a crime but are deemed too dangerous to be released). There have only been 15 such reviews since Obama announced the process three years ago. Periodically they get around to reviewing one of the 46 men on the forever list. Andy Worthington has a breakdown of that list-- way down towards the bottom of the list you will find my client Abdel Razak Ali (ISN 685). He is dangerous because he was staying in the same guesthouse as an individual that the military thought was an al-Qaeda leader--- abu Zubaydah. Later (only after waterboarding him more than 100 times)- they realized they were mistaken about Mr. Zubaydah. That little error that has not changed the fate of my client and so he waits for his chance at the periodic review.
Read the Andy Worthington post here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Human Rights Watch calls for an investigation into my country's torture of detainees....

In its report released this week the summary starts with this:

" It is now well established that following the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operated a global, state-sanctioned program in which it abducted scores of people throughout the world, held them in secret detention—sometimes for years—or “rendered” them to various countries, and tortured or otherwise ill-treated them. While the program officially ended in 2009, the cover-up of these crimes appears to be ongoing.
Many detainees were held by the CIA in pitch-dark windowless cells, chained to walls, naked or diapered, for weeks or months at a time. The CIA forced them into painful stress positions that made it impossible for them to lie down or sleep for days, to the point where many hallucinated or begged to be killed to end their misery. It used “waterboarding” and similar techniques to cause near suffocation or drowning, crammed detainees naked into tiny boxes, and prevented them from bathing, using toilets, or cutting their hair or nails for months. “We looked like monsters,” one detainee said of his appearance while in CIA custody.
Much new information about detention and interrogation in the CIA program became public with the release in redacted form of the 499-page summary of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report in December 2014 (“Senate Summary”). The Senate Summary reported that the CIA subjected at least five detainees to “rectal feeding,” described in one case as infusing the pureed contents of a lunch tray into the detainee’s rectum via a medical tube, done “without evidence of medical necessity.” The Senate Summary also found that during a waterboarding session, one detainee became “completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth.” The CIA forced some detainees to stand for days on end without sleep while they had broken bones in their legs and feet, even though CIA personnel knew this would cause them long-term physical injury. A CIA cable described one detainee as "clearly a broken man" and "on the verge of complete breakdown."
The US government has not adequately accounted for these abuses. It has an obligation under international law to prosecute torture where warranted and provide redress to victims, but it has done neither. No one with real responsibility for these crimes has been held accountable and the government has actively thwarted attempts on the part of victims to obtain redress and compensation in US courts.
Read the entire report here.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Hillary apparently sought closure of Gitmo too.....

This article discusses a letter that Hillary sent to Obama as she was leaving the state department.... asking that Obama make good on his promise to close the place. Read the rest here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Tea Project....

Watch the video and find out if the project will be coming to a location near you.

Slahi asks for a review by the military...Updated.

One of the many pathetic things that Obama has done- or in this case hasn't done- is provide the prompt reviews for the men who are not cleared for release. My client is one of those men- as is Slahi- the author of the Guantanamo Diary. Now his attorneys are taking the military's failure to conduct a review to the court. read more here.

Meanwhile the judge that heard Slahi's request to force the military to conduct his review was not happy with the military's foot dragging.... "WASHINGTON—A federal judge chided U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday for pledging to close the Guantanamo detention facility while allowing the process for clearing detainees to drag on for years with no resolution in sight.
A 2011 executive order required a special board to review each detainee’s case within a year, with the aim of releasing those who officials from defense, intelligence and law enforcement agencies concluded don’t pose “a significant threat to the security of the United States.”
To date only 19 detainees have been reviewed, while 107 remain at the prison.
The judge made his remarks during a hearing on Tuesday over a lawsuit filed by one detainee, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, seeking to force the government to schedule his review."
Of course the real question is whether the good judge will do a darned thing about this.... Don't hold your breath.
read more here.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Not everyone was on board with Shaker's release?

It seems some of the military were not on board with Shaker's release. specifically the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. Hmmmm. I wonder why he would not want Shaker released. Could it be he is afraid about what Shaker knows? Time will tell but it is good news that he was ignored... and now our republican "leaders" can conduct some year long studies on this issue.
Read more here.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Obama's latest comments....

He claims he will still close Gitmo- but no details yet. I guess he has not had enough time to work out those details (7 years.....)
Read more here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Same old--- Same old

Obama has apparently decided to delay his plans for closing Guantanamo.
Read more here.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The current Guantanamo numbers....

From our records keep Brian Foster:

"The prison population now stands at 107: 48 are cleared, 49 are awaiting clearance, and 10 are in the military commission system (of those, 7 are in “active” “trial” proceedings while 3 have been “convicted”).

Of the 48 cleared, 39 (81%) are Yemenis and 9 are non-Yemenis.

Of the 49 awaiting clearance, 23 are Yemenis and 26 are non-Yemenis.

Of note: for the first time, Yemenis slated for conditional detention have been transferred out of the prison.  Our client Adil Busayss had been cleared by the Bush Administration and then placed in the conditional-detention category by the Obama Task Force.  And al Rahizi (ISN 45) had been placed in indefinite detention by the Task Force and then approved for transfer by the PRB with the “conditions normally associated with conditional detention.”  As a result, the conditional-detention category has dropped for the first time, and now stands at 31.

The PRB has now approved for transfer 15 of the 18 detainees for whom it has issued decisions.  Four detainees are officially in the PRB process and awaiting their first hearing or decision.  42 detainees are PRB-eligible but have not yet officially begun the process.  (For these purposes, a detainee is “officially in the PRB process” when he shows up on the PRB web page tracking individual detainees’ proceedings.)"

h/o to attorney Brian Foster for keeping up with these numbers...

Vive la France--- continued.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A message from Shaker Aaman.... to those who supported him over the years.

Via Andy Worthington: Shaker is beginning the healing process but sends this message.
Best of luck to you Shaker...

A photo that Shaker Aamer made available to the We Stand With Shaker campaign to thanks all his supporters who worked so hard to secure his release from Guantanamo.

5 Yemeni Detainees transferred to the UAE

Announced this evening by the military:

The Department of Defense announced today the transfer of Ali Ahmad Muhammad al-Razihi, Khalid Abd-al-Jabbar Muhammad Uthman al-Qadasi, Adil Said al-Hajj Ubayd al-Busays, Sulayman Awad Bin Uqayl al-Nahdi, and Fahmi Salem Said al-Asani from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the Government of the United Arab Emirates.

That leaves the final count of detainees at Guantanamo at 107.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Vive la France...

Friday, November 13, 2015

ICC looking at abuse of Afghani detainees by "coalition" forces

i.e.-- The united states of America.

As many of you know I was a visiting professional at the ICC a few years back. One of my goals in going there (in addition to helping the section of the court that focuses on victims) was to learn as much as I could about how the court operates in hopes that one day I could go back to help address the war crimes by my country. Looks like my opportunity is getting closer!

Read more here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

And part of his plan is to remain a wimp.....

Obama is expected to sign the latest defense bill despite the fact that it contains a strong prohibition for closing Guantanamo. Read the rest here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Obama is inching towards a plan....

Read about it here.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The not so dangerous "worst of the worst....."

I have spent quite a bit of time over the years trying to explain to people just how ridiculous the position taken by the military of the men who have not been cleared for release. It is propaganda at its worst- as the military tries to justify the holding of these men who have not been cleared. Al- Jazeera has done a nice piece on some of these men who have been cleared. My client has not had his review as of yet- it is hard to imagine that he would still be held after such a review as the only reason for holding him is because he was in a guesthouse where someone else was staying that the military thought was a bad guy....sigh.
Read more about the worst of the worst here....

Saturday, November 7, 2015

News out of DC today....

Seems the president is going to start acting on Guantanamo (after more than six years of complaining he is powerless). Word on the street is that they expect the population of Guantanamo to be under 100 by years end.
read more here....
we shall see.

Really Canada....

I guess the good news is that they did not decide to detain him indefinitely but really Canada- he was invited to speak and he managed to get to Toronto without crossing over US land. Maybe we have to give Trudeau a little time to get his feet securely in the PM job....
Read the whole story here.

Monday, November 2, 2015

"I can’t tell cruelty and kindness apart"

More on Shaker Aamer here....

Friday, October 30, 2015

update on Guantanamo current statistics....

Attached, reflecting the recent news that Shaker Aamer and Ahmed Abdulaziz have been released.

The prison population now stands at 112: 52* are cleared, 50 are awaiting clearance, and 10 are in the military commission system (of those, 7 are in “active” “trial” proceedings while 3 have been “convicted”).

Of the 52 cleared, 43 (82.7%) are Yemenis and 9 are non-Yemenis.

Of the 50 awaiting clearance, 24 are Yemenis and 26 are non-Yemenis.

The PRB has now approved for transfer 14 of the 16 detainees for whom it has issued decisions.  Six detainees are officially in the PRB process and awaiting their first hearing or decision.  42 detainees are PRB-eligible but have not yet officially begun the process.  (For these purposes, a detainee is “officially in the PRB process” when he shows up on the PRB web page tracking individual detainees’ proceedings.)

h/o to Brian Foster for keeping track of these numbers..

Shaker is on his way home.....UPDATED

Good news today. It seems Shaker Aamer is back in Britain after being held for 14 years at Guantanamo for no reason... except of course that we could. More here.
Andy Worthington had this to say.
I will have a few words about Shaker once I know he is safely home and with his family- including his 14 year old child who was born after his arrest. Shaker will be meeting that child for the first time today.

I understand that Shaker is with his family now. Shaker has a long healing process as he was treated worse than many of the men currently held because of his role as a leader at the prison.
I quote from this paragraph of the N.Y. Times:

"At Guantánamo, Mr. Aamer became a leader of detainees engaged in a mass hunger strikenegotiating with the prison camp authorities. But after the protest escalated and three detainees apparently committed suicide simultaneously in June 2006, military officials isolated Mr. Aamer from the main inmate population."

It is precisely because of the role that Shaker played- not only because he was fluent in English and therefore could communicate with the prison authorities-but also because of the respect he earned from the detainees and from many of the authorities-- in those early years. But something changed prior to the so-called suicides in 2006 and almost from that point on Shaker was isolated from the other men. Years and years of solitary confinement have very likely taken a substantial toll on this man and this is yet another of the war crimes by my country. I hope that Shaker can move past what my country did to him and I really hope one day he can talk about it--- hopefully in a court of law with those responsible on trial.

I wish only the best for Shaker Aamer.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Detainee transfer announced...

The Department of Defense announced today the repatriation of Ahmed Ould Abdel Aziz from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the Government of Mauritania.

Read more here about this detainee who has been cleared for release for more than six years.

I am pleased to annouonce Mr. Aziz is now with his family. Best of luck to him.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Lawyers that paved the way for Obama to kill bin Laden

Yes, Bush had his mealy mouthed attorneys who gave him the go ahead for torture and now some of the names that Obama relied upon in killing bin Laden are coming to light. I am linking first to the New York Times story but when you finish with that look to what emptywheel has to say- because it is much more insightful- she looks to who Obama bypassed in that decision.
Very reminiscent  of how Bush hand picked his torturers...

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The battle to see the force feeding tapes....UPDATED WITH LINK

The government/military has been fighting the release of the force feeding tapes- most recently it filed a desperate motion asking the judge to reconsider her earlier ruling that the tapes should be made public--the military provided several declarations from various members of the military attesting the harm to "national security" if those tapes were made public. Read the complete motion to reconsideration filed by the government here.

Yesterday Judge Kessler denied the government's motion. Click here to the link (h/o to Lee) and let me leave you with this quote from the judge:

"One particular example given in the declarations is flat out unbelievable, namely, that if the
videos are released, Mr. Dhiab's privacy would be invaded. Mr. Dhiab has already clearly stated,
in no uncertain terms, that "I want Americans to see what is going on at the prison today, so they will
understand why we are hunger-striking, and why the prison should be closed. If the American
people stand for freedom, they should watch these tapes. If they truly believe in human rights, they
need to see these tapes."

It will undoubtedly be a long time before we see those tapes but I hope one day my fellow countrymen (and women) will see these tapes and understand the torture that we have subjected these men-- these men who have never been charged with any criminal activity.

Shaker Aamer update...

No Shaker has not been released.... at least as far as I can tell.
Supposedly the latest hiccup is that three republican members of congress decided to take a trip to Guantanamo this week and of course their little visit could not be disturbed by a plane taking Shaker home. So Shaker waits a few more days. Sigh.-
Meanwhile you can join the "I fast for Shaker" campaign and fast for one day in support of Shaker's release. It is a rotating fast so that on each day individuals are fasting. Details are here. I signed up for thursday-- why not join me on this?

A nice summary of commission happenings....

Earlier this week I discussed a couple of things going on with the military commissions but this article from aljazeera puts it all together in a nice understandable way.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

He says he wants to close Guantanamo.....

But his justice department continues to fight the release of one man that has long been cleared for release.. Ba Odah... a man who has been on a hunger strike for 8 years. Yes 8 years. He now weighs 75 pounds and by all accounts (except of course the military's account) he is in dire health. Last week Ba Odah's attorneys argued before Federal Judge Hogan for an independant medical exam. Judge Hogan did what he is good at...punted.

Read more here and here.
Oh and just in case it is not crazy enough to try to represent someone who is facing the death penalty without being able to share the evidence with your client think about this: It seems the military judge- the head military judge over the military commissions for Guantanamo- also was not aware until this past week about "a secret pentagon program" relating to the men being tried in the military commission.  "It’s cryptically called an “Alternative Compensatory Control Measure,” ACCM — " 

whatever the hell that means. Read this and if you can figure out anything let me know!!

Military Commissions latest foible

It seems that one of the men being charged in the illicit military commissions might want to represent himself. In theory that should not be a problem but of course that is "in theory." The problem with one of these men representing himself is the same problem that attorneys representing these men have- the attorneys have looked at evidence that they cannot share with their clients--because the evidence is classified. It is the same problem that all of us who represent men at Guantanamo have but at least most of us were not confronted with the reality of our clients facing execution. The men being charged at the military commission face a death sentence and yet their attorneys cannot discuss certain evidence with them because it is "classified." This is truly a fucked up system that should not be allowed.
But getting back to the man who wants to represents himself-- this is doubly fucked up because he will not be allowed to see crucial evidence against him-- again, because that evidence is classified. I mean WTF-- he is allowed "in theory" to represent himself but of course he will lose because he won't know things that everyone else in the room will know.

I am linking some articles about this shit show here and here and here and here.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

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

*   *   *
Dostoyevsky: dumped in Kazakhstan, like others since
While talk has turned to closing Guantánamo, what has happened to internees who managed to get out, some through forced repatriation to strange countries?  
VICE News has an article on two Tunisians who were dumped last year in Kazakhstan, where the Czars used to send troublemakers like Dostoyevsky. The experience of the exiles has not been a happy one; unlike Fyodor, they don't speak Russian.  
There can be worse language problems. Newsweek has a story on a recently-released Gitmo prisoner who spent 13 years in wrongful US custody after a mistake in translation.

Al Jazeera meanwhile has a where-is-he-now video on another Gitmo travesty of justice, the internment of Asadallah Raman, a 10-year-old Afghan boy held for a year at Guantánamo with two other children. His plight was first reported in 2004 in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Friday, October 23, 2015

30 days will be up on sunday...

So the big question is -- Will Shaker Aamer be sent home on sunday?
Let's hope so.
More here from Democracy Now.

Obama actually does something....

Yesterday Obama vetoed the defense bill in part because of the restrictions on closing Gitmo. I guess he is getting braver now that his presidency is nearing the end.
Read more here.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Rare admission from my government...

 The military has now admitted that the Moroccan man that was held at Guantanamo for 13 years was held based on "unreliable evidence." The man was released last month and is now being held by the Moroccan government while they do an investigation into his "crimes."
Read more here.....
Even with that news the Moroccan government is still holding the former Guantanamo detainee.
Read the latest from Morocco here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

And here's to Canada.... hoping you become a nice country again.

Will Obama have the GUTS to actually Veto the Pentagon Budget this time around....

Every year the republicans stick language in the pentagon budget that makes it difficult (but not impossible) for Obama to close Guantanamo.... and every year Obama threatens to veto the budget but then he never does....
He is threatening a veto again. Will he do it?
Read more about my wimpy president here.

What is wimpy? : a weak person who lacks confidence, courage, etc.

CIA vs. High School Students.... UPDATED

I don't know which is funnier-- that the head of the CIA had an AOL account (for those unfamiliar with AOL it was one of the biggest email subscriptions services when email first became a thing--and now the only people to continue to use AOL are primarily old and low-tech) or that high school students hacked into his account.
Anyway you can read about it here.

Emptywheel has more here.

The so-called "queen" of Torture....

"A German human rights group has filed a criminal complaint against Alfreda Frances Bikowsky, a CIA official who allegedly authorized torture of suspected al Qaeda militants. The complaint, submitted in federal court on Monday, presents proof of Bikowsky’s involvement in the torture of German citizen Khaled El Masri and asks that she be prosecuted in Germany. It also puts Bikowsky, nicknamed the “Queen of Torture,” in the spotlight of European efforts to hold CIA officials accountable for allegations of abuse."

Read the rest here.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Waterboarding by a different name...

That CIA- they are so clever.... they have claimed that they only waterboarded three prisoners. I don't know or care if that is the number because 1 is too many. However, now it turns out they "water doused" many more men--a technique akin to waterboarding and which of course is also torture. Add that to the men that they dry boarded and I think it is fair to say that the CIA (with of course the help of psychologists) ran a torture campaign that was forever changing. That of course makes it easier for the CIA and friends to claim small numbers for each technique.
By any other name it is still torture.
Read more here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

trying for accountability

Two former detainees have sued the psychologists who coordinated and oversaw their torture.... I can't help but wonder how these two war criminals will get off the hook but somehow I think they will....
Read more here. And here. and.... here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Another Forever Detainee Cleared for Release....UPDATED

Today it was announced that the "periodic" review board  (PRB) cleared Mohammed Kamin (ISN 1045 from Afghanistan).

The prison population remains at 114: 54 are cleared, 50 are awaiting clearance, and 10 are in the military commission system (of those, 7 are in “active” “trial” proceedings while 3 have been “convicted”).

Of the 54 cleared, 43 (79.6%) are Yemenis and 11 are non-Yemenis.

Of the 50 awaiting clearance, 24 are Yemenis and 26 are non-Yemenis.

The PRB has now approved for transfer 14 of the 16 detainees for whom it has issued decisions.  Five detainees are officially in the PRB process and awaiting their first hearing or decision.  43 detainees are PRB-eligible but have not yet officially begun the process.  (For these purposes, a detainee is “officially in the PRB process” when he shows up on the PRB web page tracking individual detainees’ proceedings.)

H/O to Brian Foster for pulling together the numbers....


Monday, October 5, 2015

Algerian detainee seeks relief from Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

   Djamel Ameziane was held at guantanamo for 12 years without charge before he was finally returned to his homeland in Algeria. Mr. Ameziane cannot find a job- no one will hire him because of the stigma of being held at Guantanamo for all of those years. Now he is asking the InterAmerican commission for help. Read more here and here.
You can read his petition here.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

An Interiview with Mohammed el Gharani- from Guantanamo Speaks....

Guantanamo Speaks

Former Prisoner defies ban on Guantanamo detainees coming to the US by virtually appearing. Read the rest here and if you are in NY and not rained out try to attend this amazing piece of art and humanity. Unfortunately I couldn't get the entire picture on here so click on the link.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Clive Stafford Smith on Shaker Aamer...

"There is one matter that is beyond all doubt: various members of the US military and the UK intelligence services will start briefing against Aamer. They will do this because they know they have done him wrong, and they hate him for it. They feel a very human urge to prove that they were justified and, in their distorted morality, that can only be true if he is a very, very bad man indeed.
They always do this. In 2009, when Binyam Mohamed was released from Guantánamo, someone at the Pentagon leaked to the BBC a classified copy of the confession tortured out of him. Binyam had been sent to Morocco where a razor blade was taken to his penis every fortnight for 18 months. Naturally he told them what they wanted to hear. To the credit of the BBC – and in compliance with the UN convention against torture – ultimately the corporation decided not to defame Binyam with this statement."
Read the whole opinion piece here.

And the talking dog has long been writing about Shaker and has hosted Andy Worthington on his trips to the U.S. over the years as he came to our country to remind the American people not only of the illegality of Guantanamo but also to advocate for the release of his countryman --shaker Aamer. Read what he has to say here.

Monday, September 28, 2015

DC Circuit grants en banc in al Bahlul.....

As Steve Vladeck reported-- on Friday, the D.C. Circuit granted rehearing en banc in al Bahlul v. United States, the constitutional challenge to the Guantánamo military commissions’ authority to try domestic offenses in the military commission. In the process, the Court of Appeals vacated its major June 2015 ruling (which had held that such jurisdiction violates Article III), and set the whole matter for new briefing and argument — the latter scheduled for December 1, 2015.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Detainee Released To Morrocco faces Torture...

And the documents to prove he is innocent of any terror related activity is held as classified by my government.... This is a potential problem for many of our remaining clients and my government has thus far refused to unclassify the documents.
Read more here.

Friday, September 25, 2015


Andy Worthington on Shaker.... complete with a song.

Click here for the full story and the song by Andy...

Could it really be true???

The Guardian announced today that Shaker Aamer- the last British detainee- is to be released. If this is true that is wonderful news....but WTF- he has been cleared for release for at least nine years and in announcing that they are going to release him they still have to go through the 30 day waiting period before he can actually be released. And they are only releasing this man who has been cleared by all of the agencies (Defense, State, Justice--- etc) for literally years because they have now determined that Britain has robust security???
Shaker was considered a leader amongst the detainees- in negotiating with the military at Guantanamo for better conditions -- in punishment for his outspokenness Shaker was placed in solitary confinement. For years. Rumor is that his mental and physical health has markedly deteriorated because of the conditions he has been subjected to.
Shaker has never met his youngest child who was born after his "detention."
Read the story here.... and let us hope that this time the rumor is true and Shaker will be home with his family soon.

For those in the NYC area....

Mohammed el Gharani and Laurie Anderson have worked together to create the “Habeas Corpus” installation, which will be shown at the Park Avenue Armory on October 2nd through 4th.

Read more about this amazing multi media presentation here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The release of Abdul Shalabi announced yesterday...UPDATED

Mr. Shalabi was one of the long time hunger strikers- for nine years he staged a hunger strike and for nine- years he was force fed by the military. Mr. Shalabi was recently cleared by the the military for release. You can read more about Shalabi here.
Carol Rosenberg has more here.

I will just add that Mr. Shalabi is yet another of the men who was accused of being a body guard for Osama Bin Laden... as I reported in the past all of those men at Guantanamo who were accused of being body guards were accused by other detainees- the so called jail house snitches who were tortured or otherwise convinced to lie about their fellow detainees....sigh.

The prison population now stands at 114:  52 are cleared, 52 are awaiting clearance, and 10 are in the military commission system (of those, 7 are in the “active” “trial” proceedings while 3 have been “convicted”).

Of the 52 cleared, 43 (83%) are Yemenis and 9 are non-Yemenis.

Of the 52 awaiting clearance, 24 are Yemenis and 28 are non-Yemenis.
h/o to fellow Gitmo attorney Brian Foster for keeping up with the numbers.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Another Detainee Transferred....

The Department of Defense announced today the transfer of Abdul Shalabi from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

On June 15, a Periodic Review Board consisting of representatives from the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, and State; the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence determined continued law of war detention of Shalabi does not remain necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States. As a result of that review, which examined a number of factors, including security issues, Shalabi was recommended for transfer by consensus of the six departments and agencies comprising the Periodic Review Board.

I will have more info on Shalabi when it becomes available.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Khadr's bail restrictions eased....

A judge in Edmonton Alberta eased some of the restrictions imposed on Guantanamo's child prisoner Omar Khadr. He no longer needs to wear the monitoring bracelet- he can go on the internet (since we are all being watched on the internet he will just be treated like the rest of us!) and he can travel and visit family. ONE SMALL STEP! Here is hoping he will soon be completely free.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Detainee Transfer announcement

The Department of Defense announced today the repatriation of Younis Abdurrahman Chekkouri from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the Government of Morocco.
 Mr. Chekkouri was a client of Reprieve and it has issued a press release raising concerns about Mr. Chekkouri's well being in Morocco. This suggests to me that he must have been released sometime earlier.
Reprive's statement can be found here.

The prison population stands at 115:  53 are cleared, 52 are awaiting clearance, and 10 are in the military commission system (of those, 7 are in “active” “trial” proceedings while 3 have been “convicted”).

Of the 53 cleared, 43 (81%) are Yemenis and 10 are non-Yemenis.

Of the 52 awaiting clearance, 24 are Yemenis and 28 are non-Yemenis.
h/o to Gitmo attorney Brian Foster for the stats...

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Force Feeding Tapes

Today the government turned over to a Judge 8 redacted tapes showing the torture--I mean force feeding-- of men at Guantanamo. Now we must fight to get those tapes released to the public so that the world can see that the torture of the men at Guantanamo continues to this day.
Read more here.

My Friends the Dutch....

It seems that the Dutch are inching a little closer to taking two detainees from Guantanamo. When I was living in the Netherlands a few years back I lobbied hard for the settlement of two men (pulling hard for one of the men to be my client) but the Government would not budge. Seems now that they are considering taking two men--- but only if Obama gets off his butt and pushes harder for closer of the gulag.

"The Hague (AFP) - The Netherlands will only consider a US request to take in two detainees from Guantanamo Bay once Washington has taken "meaningful steps" to close the notorious military jail, the Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said Monday."

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A day late....

Yesterday I forgot to link to the talking dog's page for his annual summary of all things September 11- from his vantage point in New York city where he was on that day and remains today.
So here it is.

Lest we forget....

Steven Biko died 39 years ago today. Read more about his life and death here.

Friday, September 11, 2015

a comment about Hassan and the other men released....

Perhaps it is to keep up the false pretense that all of the men that have been held at Guantanamo are "bad" but I have to mention this very disturbing fact which was highlighted in my last post: each and every man that has been released from Guantanamo under the Obama administration has been "cleared" by all of the government agencies. In other words, these men should not be treated as criminals when they are finally on the plane to be set free. Mr. Al-Ghizzawi was treated in the same fashion as Mr. Hassan.... as have all of the other men cleared and released.
This has been my country's last inhumane measure before these men are finally free and I am deeply ashamed.

A botched translation led to this man being held at Gitmo for 14 years....

One of the many incredible stories of the men at Guantanamo....

As for Hassan, on June 12, 2015, Gitmo guards came into his cell at night. Once again they took off his clothes and put him in a diaper. Once again they stripped him of his senses with a blindfold and earmuffs, and once again they led him onto a plane for a long journey. Only this time, when the plane landed,he was in Oman. The country had welcomed him on humanitarian grounds. Reprieve and the U.S. government wouldn’t comment on his exact whereabouts in Oman, and local reporters say the government in Muscat has warned them away from trying to interview former Gitmo detainees. But more than a decade after he arrived at Gitmo, Emad Hassan was finally free, and nothing seemed lost in translation.

Read the entire story here....

A policy no more....

A few months ago I reported about the loosening of some of the rules regarding the release of notes taken by attorneys with their clients. Under a new policy that was announced in January the government allowed notes to go uncensored that detailed the torture of Majid Khan as told by Mr. Khan to his attorney. (You can read that here.)
It was apparently a short lived policy. Abu Zubaydah's attorney tried to have declassified 116 pages that delayed the horrific torture that Abu Zubaydah was (and continues to be) subjected over his 14 years of "detention." My government does not want us to see those details and so we only know a small summary of those details-- for example--that Abu Zubaydah was water boarded 83 times in a single month- lost an eye, was kept in small coffin like boxes...--
So much for that policy. You can read more here.

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

The American Psychological Association has decided to do the right thing and stop assisting US government interrogations, following a damning independent investigation. TheGuardian and Just Security have more.  
Only one person voted against the change - Larry James, a former member of the Behavioural Science Consultation Team (BSCT), military psychologists who collaborated in the brutal interrogation of helpless prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo. 
James: wants to keep psychologists on the interrogation teams
Many "Biscuits" have had ethics charges brought against them, and one of them took themilitary Fifth Amendment.  
Following cancellation of the CIA's contract with the firm of torture-architect psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, West Coast civil rights figure Stephen Yagman has filed suit under the False Claims Act for recovery of the $81 million Mitchell-Jessen were paid for their (dirty) work.  

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Another small step towards justice for Maher Arar

As the Globe and Mail pointed out over the weekend Canada's RCMP has indicted the Syrian who allegedly tortured Canadian Maher Arar. Of course the torture was done at the behest of my government and I doubt that the Canadian's will actually go after any of those responsible in my country- at least not while Bush wanna be Stephen Harper is Prime Minister....

"So Mr. Arar must be particularly pleased that the RCMP has now charged a Syrian man in absentia with the very crime of torturing him. Whether or not the charge against a Syrian intelligence officer named George Salloum, whereabouts and condition unknown, leads to a trial in Canada, its existence alone is a critical step in Mr. Arar’s determined efforts to clear his name, and a deserved slap in the face of those who continue to deny him justice."

Read the rest here.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Happy labor day...........

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Meanwhile... back on the home front.

The administration is apparently looking for prisons in this country to house the remaining detainees.

And the states that are being looked at are freaking out. Read more here, here and here.

And this from the Onion......

Guantanamo's new senior facility....

Thursday, August 27, 2015

By any other name... it is still torture

CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou speaks out again on the torture conducted by the CIA of its prisoners:

It’s plain and simple: The CIA tortured its prisoners. They can call it anything they want. It’s still torture. 
And that's a crime against humanity.

Read the rest here.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The President isn't even trying to move the cleared for release men out of Guantanamo.....

According to Secretary of defense Carter, "there has been no pressure from the White House to transfer detainees at a faster rate, Carter said. "I see it exactly as the president does," he said.

Read the rest here.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Meanwhile in science 'military style'.... the Navy claims asbestos is safe.

I reported last month about the cancer cluster at the base by attorneys and staff working on the military commission cases. The Navy now admits that there are carcinogens at the commission site but no one should worry.

 "A public health team found evidence of carcinogens at the war crimes court compound at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, but has concluded so far that the buildings are safe for occupancy, the Navy said Friday."

I am guessing those stricken with cancer and other serious illnesses do not agree.

Read the rest here and here.

But maybe this is an underlying reason for the judge once again continuing the hearings for those being tried in the commission.... 

and excelerated efforts to find new lodgings for the men. Read more here, here and here.

Obama claims he wants to close the place....

He just doesn't want to release the men that his administration has already cleared for release... and he is afraid to say it in a public filing.

[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] on Friday submitted a sealed document [The Guardian report] in opposition to the habeas corpus petition of Tariq Ba Odah, despite a 2009 government security review that cleared Ba Odah for transfer. In a public disclosure, the US government reported it "remains committed to promptly securing an appropriate location to which petitioner Ba Odah can be transferred." Ba Odah is represented by Omar Farah of the Center for Constitutional Rights[official website; case backgrounder]. After the government's filing, Farah announced [WSJ report] that he was disappointed by the inconsistencies between the original plan to close Guantanamo and the government's execution of that plan. In June, Ba Odah submitted doctor's statements into court records which argue Odah's medical condition has reached the point of irreparable harm. Amnesty International (AI) [official website] filed a statement [press release] on the Ba Odah Habeas case, reporting on the prisoner's 'concerning' medical condition and his ongoing hunger strike.


Monday, August 10, 2015

From Roger Fitch and our friends down under at Justinian.

The US has long seized and interned combatants whom they categorise as "unprivileged", although the Article 5 (prisoner status) hearings they are entitled to under the Geneva Conventions and US law have never been held. 
A few of those who dared oppose US soldiers and military operations overseas are now being brought to the US for civil trials. 
Irek Hamidullin is a Russian convert to Islam picked up in the Afghan war and brought to the US for trial in a Virginia federal court on sundry war-related charges – labelled "terrorism" - on the basis that he had been "fighting with the Taliban" – assuming, with George Bush, that Taliban fighters can't be privileged belligerents.  
The judge expressed scepticism but allowed the case to proceed. Coverage of the trial has been spotty
It may indeed be lawful for the US to prosecute military opponents in civil courts using US domestic laws, by classifying them as unprivileged and charging them with terrorism.
As previously noted (see post of Sept 2010) the authoritative Conduct of Hostilities Under the Law of Armed Conflict (2004) provides that: 
"With unlawful combatants, [the law of armed conflict] refrains from stigmatizing the acts as criminal.  It merely takes off a mantle of immunity from the defendant, who is thereby accessible to penal charges for any offense committed against the domestic legal system."
You'd think that would be the domestic legal system of the country where the war is occurring, e.g. Afghanistan prosecuting personal crimes such as murder and looting committed under cover of war, but according to the ICRC: 
"If civilians directly engage in hostilities, they are considered 'unlawful' or 'unprivileged' combatants or belligerents ... [and] ... may be prosecuted under the domestic law of the detaining state for such action." 
Knowledgeable academics like Just Security's Steve Vladeck seem comfortable with the idea of US civil prosecutions for foreign battlefield actions, evidently on the assumption that the Taliban don't qualify as lawful, privileged belligerents and are thus "terrorists". 
If Hamidullin is meant to be indicative of foreign fighters who have opposed Americans, he seems an odd choice, as he didn't actually harm anyone. As his lawyer pointed out, the case was not about suicide bombings or attacking civilians, and was "the very first case of its kind". 
In fact, the US has already obtained a domestic conviction against a foreign combatant for opposing US troops on a battlefield overseas. More here on the conviction of Saddiq Al-Abbadi, achieved through a guilty plea.
The NY Times comments on the strange new trend of prosecuting foreigners in American courts for crimes - if such they be - that occurred outside the US, including many that have little or no connection to the US.
In a British case similar to Hamidullin's, and based on unprivileged combat, a UK resident, Anis Sardar, was convicted of murder for making a roadside bomb that killed a US soldier in Iraq.   
What if Sardar had been a lawful combatant? In today's warfare, is the use of a hidden roadside bomb a war crime? Does it involve treachery or an unlawful weapon?
It's being treated as a war crime in the latest Guantánamo prosecution, that of Abd al Hadi. If so, it would be - along with his alleged attacks on civilians - among the first valid war offences charged at Gitmo. 
Legal academics are meanwhile debating what to do with the Pentagon's unprivileged belligerents - those CIA operatives, who drone-kill military and non-military targets alike, assisted by mercenaries, sorry, contractors, who could also become unprivileged belligerents, but, like the CIA, receive little oversight
What could possibly go wrong?