Monday, January 17, 2022

FROM ROGER FITCH AND OUR FRIENDS DOWN UNDER. JANUARY 2022 EDITION

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Courthouse - Guantánamo Bay

It has been twenty years since George Bush set up his extraordinary military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. It's one of America's greatest injustices, and clearly a political albatross

There has been little amelioration of this extralegal blunder, including under President Biden. Although two more men have been released, bad behaviour by the CIAFBI, Pentagon and prosecution still keeps surfacing.

The Biden administration is building a second military courtroom for its prosecutions, although it appears that, in all the years of these, only one case (the current Abdul Hadi case) has involved a validly-charged war crime recognised under international law. 

On his first day in office, Biden acquiesced in the charges brought by an outgoing Trump Pentagon official, against Riduan Isamuddin (Hambali), the Bali Bomber, for "war crimes" consisting of terror attacks in Southeast Asia, far removed from any armed conflict. The new courtroom is designed for three defendants - it seems intended for Hambali and his co-defendants.

The "9/11" case, (once planned for civil trial in Manhattan, now to be tried by military commission) is in the other Gitmo courtroom. Like Hambali's, the case is emblematic of the grave jurisdictional defects in the trials - it's general knowledge that the Afghan war began in October 2001.

In both cases, military prosecutions have been contrived for civilian crimes, by fraudulently folding terrorism offences into the armed conflict in Afghanistan. All the cases, other than Abdul Hadi's alleged attacks on civilians, suffer from the same jurisdictional defects, having occurred outside war, or theatres of war, or (as in David Hicks' case) involving unrecognised or retrospective non-war crimes. 

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri's charges actually include piracy (the MV Limburg bombing); it's Nashiri's case where the Biden administration faces scrutiny on the use of torture evidence.

The prosecutions suffer from jurisdictional defects compounded by torture, but a few convictions have been achieved by guilty pleas that won't be appealed, e.g. the plea just made by Majid Khan.

In a Stalinesque court appearance, Khan confessed to numerous crimes unknown to the law of war, but at least his attorneys negotiated the inclusion in his plea of his testimony about torture

The military jurors believed Khan, strongly condemning his torture, but at best, his evidence will result in a shorter military sentence.

Torture is cause for dismissal in federal court (Ahmed Ghailani excepted) - it's "government misconduct that shocks the conscience".

Due process matters. 

READ THE REST OF FITCH HERE.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

THE TWO QUESTIONS

 When I tell people that I represent a man who is still held at Guantanamo there are two questions that I get too often. 

Isn't Guantanamo closed, I thought Obama closed it? (sigh)

and, What could you still be litigating at this point?

The first question is easy to answer. NO- it is not closed- Obama lost interest and there were still 50 men left when Obama left office- As I recall, one of those who remains was literally ripped off the plane in the last days of the Obama administration because Obama blew a timing issue.

The second question has always been hard to explain to non-lawyers. 

But now Shane Kadidal (from Center for Constitutional Rights) who has worked on Guantanamo issues since the beginning answers the second question in a really understandable way. Thank you Shane.

Read Shane's piece here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The Talking Dog reflects on 20 years of Guantanamo

 

...

Fingers crossed. As Candace always says, hope dies last. But I’m seriously hoping that Joe Biden, the President with the temerity to absorb the bad optics of getting out of Afghanistan will be the one capable of finally, finally, ending this sorry chapter of our nation’s history.

UPDATE: In other “anniversary news,” the Biden Administration announced that five more detainees have been cleared for transfer, bringing that total to 19. As, by my count, 12 are charged by the military commissions, only about 8 remain mired in the “forever prisoner” category… including Candace’s client Saeed Bakhuche from Algeria, who had his periodic review board hearing today.

Read the whole piece here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

humans of Guantanamo

 The organization CAGE has launched a new website and gathered seven survivors together to tell their stories-- link below. (Sorry about the formatting problem but the links still work!)

 

 

#GITMO20: Time to Close Guantanamo Together

 

Assalamu Alaykum

 

Dear supporters and friends,

 

To mark 20 years since to the day the first of nearly 780 men were trafficked to the infamous torture centre, Guantanamo Bay, we have today launched the website ‘www.closingguantanamotogether.com’.

 

The website showcases two decades worth of campaigns, prisoner artwork and poetry, cutting edge research, and moving interviews with former prisoners and their families by CAGE.

 

As well as listing the remaining prisoners, the website serves as a rallying platform to close Guantanamo bay and enact the 8-point plan to do so as put together and endorsed by former prisoners.

 

“Closing Guantanamo Together is dedicated to the survivors of Guantanamo. It’s an effort to centre the survivor voice and ensure the campaign to close Guantanamo and free its prisoners remains rooted in the experiences and testimonies of those who lived through what is now known as ‘the gulag of our times’.” - Moazzam Begg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WATCH Guantanamo Memorial Event: Ex-Guantanamo Prisoners Speak About Their Experiences: 20 Years of Guantanamo Bay

 

On the 8th January, 7 former prisoners came together to mark the 20th anniversary of Guantanamo's opening. It was the largest gathering of former Guantanamo prisoners marking this occasion. 
 

Speakers included:

Mohamedou ould Salahi (Mauritania)
Omar Khadr (Canada)
Shaker Aamer (UK)
Ahmed Errachidi (Morocco)
Omar Deghayes (UK/Libya)
Mansoor Adayfi (Yemen/Serbia)
Clive Stafford-Smith (Lawyer)
Moazzam Begg (UK)

  

Exclusively for this anniversary, CAGE is providing the full recording of the event. Watch men who have not only survived Guantanamo, but also continue to embody faith and resilience.

 

Watch here››

 

 

 

And what's with Biden?

 I would think multi-tasking would be something Biden would be good at but he does seem to have some problems getting multiple high priority things done.

Ben Fox has been covering Guantanamo for the AP since the beginning. Read his reporting on Biden's inaction here.

no- not a happy anniversary

 You can celebrate this anniversary by attending one of several events with Witness Against Torture -- most are virtual:


Stalwarts from Maine to an island off the Washington State coast will stand in orange jump suits on Tuesday January 11 commemorating this 20th year of the gulag.  

  • Find a vigil near you or check out what's being posted/livestreamed. (Click here or see events listed below).
  • You can still send us information about YOUR local action, to witnesstorture@gmail.com (subject line: Jan 11 Event in [your town]) and we'll post it. 
  • Send us photos during your event (witnesstorture@gmailcom) and we'll post them. On J11, follow us on social media for photos of local actions around the country.
  • And wherever you are, please be vaccinated and wear a mask. 

The White House in Washington  DC
What: Close Guantanamo Rally to Mark 20 Years
Who: Local Witness Against Torture folks joined by local activists from other groups
When: Tuesday January 11 noon to 1 pm ET (gather at 11:30) 
Where: If you live in the DC area, join us In front of the White House on Pennsylvania Ave.  Bring your orange jump suit and hood; we'll have more.  Please be vaccinated and wear a mask. We'll livestream the rally for those of you from away, and then stay online for the 2 pm virtual vigil listed below. 

Tiffin, Ohio
What: Close Guantanamo Rally: 20 years - Still No Justice
Who: Tiffin Area Pax Christi
When: Friday, January 7 from 3 to 4 pm ET
Where: Seneca County Courthouse, 103 E. Market St., Tiffin, OH 44883

Los Angeles, CA (2 events)
1. What: Annual Close Guantanamo Now Rally.  In-person & streamed. 
Who: Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP), WAT and others
When: Tuesday January 11 at noon PT
Where: Downtown Los Angeles Federal Building, 300 N. Los Angeles St. 90012 (in front)
2. What: Online panel discussion featuring film maker Philippe Diaz, Guantanamo Bar member Michael Rapkin, and Marcy Winograd of Code Pink
When: Tuesday Jan 11 at 5 pm PT

Raleigh, North Carolina
What: Close Guantanamo Vigil to commemorate 20 years since the opening of Guantánamo prison
Who: North Carolina Stop Torture Now
When: Tuesday, January 11 from 1 to 2 pm ET
Where: The Federal Building at New Bern Avenue and Person St in Raleigh. Please wear a mask.  Orange jumpsuits and black hoods are very welcome.  Please come and bring family and friends.

Asheville, North Carolina
What: Join WAT and Veterans for Peace, Asheville Chapter #099, as they vigil at Asheville Pack Square
When: Tuesday, January 11, 4:30 to 5:30 pm ET.


Orcas Island, Washington
What: Activists on Orcas Island, a stones-throw from Canada, will meet ferry arrival traffic in orange jump suits.  
When: Tuesday, January 11
Where: Eastsound, WA, on the roadside, either at the ferry arrival or at the main street intersection.
 
20th Anniversary 2 pm Virtual Rally
What: Disrupt, Confront, and Close Guantánamo This virtual rally is a call for all of us to disrupt and confront the status quo that has kept Guantánamo open and to imagine and chart a path toward finally ending and abolishing the prison and all that it represents.
Who: WAT, CCR and others
When:  Tuesday, January 11, at 2 pm ET 

National Religious Campaign Against Torture Webinar
What: Guantanamo 20 Years on: A Religious Perspective
Who:  The Episcopal Church and National Religious Campaign Against Torture 
Speakers: Dr. Shaun Casey, Georgetown University; The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate, Episcopal Church; Matt Hawthorne, NRCAT
When: Tuesday, January 11, 3 pm ET


New York City
What: In-person rally Close Guantanamo Now! 20 Years Too Long! 

Who: Organized by The World Can't Wait, co-sponsored by WAT
When: Tuesday January 11, from 4 to 6 pm ET
Where: New York Public Library steps, 5th Avenue @ 41st Street

Augusta, Maine
What: Vigil and walk to mark the 20th year since the opening of the Guantánamo Bay
Who: Pax Christi Maine, PeaceAction Maine, Witness Against Torture
When: Date change: Saturday, January 15 at noon ET
Where: We will vigil in front of the Augusta National Guard Armory, at the intersection of Route 202 and Armory Street, and then process to the Capitol.


Boston, Massachusetts
What: Rally at Park St Station. Will distribute stash of Close Guantánamo t-shirts, signs, orange jumpsuits and black hoods.  Will be very cold so dress accordingly.  Come prepared to speak if you like.  
When: Tuesday, January 11 from 1 to 2 pm ET

 



And many more Close Guantanamo events in January

Guantanamo Clock
What: One-person vigils multiplied!  Add your photo to Andy Worthington’s Gitmo Clock to mark January 11, when Guantanamo will have been opened for 7,306 days.  
When: Send your photo now!


CAGE: International Witness Campaign (IWC)
What: IWC has gathered partners around the globe to commemorate 2 decades of the War on Terror and remember the millions of people affected across the globe, with four demands and in-person and online events around the world.  
When: Through January 11, 2022

European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) Webinar
What: Rupture and Reckoning: 20 years of Guantánamo Anthology and Digital Art Exhibition Launch
Panelists: Mohamedou Ould Slahi, former Guantánamo detainee; Katherine Gallagher, CCR; Wolfgang Kaleck, ECCHR.  ECCHR will be launching a digital art exhibition and anthology, which includes contributions from current and former detainees, lawyers, advocates, and artists.
When: Tuesday January 11, 11 am to 1 pm ET 

Amnesty International Multiple Educational and Action Events 
What: Outreach to members, especially youth: Call-in to White House (Members will be sent link to leave message); Poster contest for youth; Quiz for young people
When: Tuesday January 11, 2022

This is not a happy anniversary

 Today marks 20 years of Guantanamo. Twenty years of holding men and boys without charge and without trial. Twenty years of lawlessness.

So let's look at a couple of the voices out there today-- starting with a current prisoner still being held all these many years. 

and this from a lawyer that represented several of the men over the years.






well finally some good news

 Guantanamo Panel Approves Transfer of First High-Value Detainee

On Monday, a Somali man who has been held at Guantánamo Bay as a high-value prisoner was approved for transfer with security assurances, making him the first detainee who was brought there from a CIA black site to be recommended for release. Guled Hassan Duran, 47, who was captured in Djibouti in 2004, spent about 900 days in CIA custody and has been held in classified detention facilities at Guantánamo without charge since September 2006. He became one of the 39 detainees still at Guantánamo with approval for transfer once U.S. diplomats find countries to accept them with security guarantees that satisfy the Secretary of Defense.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

and the great Nina Simone

 And with this I end my musical interlude on this one year anniversary of the attempted coup.





An american hymn of liberation...


 

the international hymn of liberation from tyranny...


 

and let's not forget it...


 

Note scrawled across his guitar-- "this machine kills fascists"

SIGH...

 


Sunday, January 2, 2022

musical interlude with actual music

 (still working on that last one.....)




musical interlude