Thursday, November 30, 2023

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

One war criminal dead….so many more to go.

 And yes rolling stone nailed it

Friday, November 17, 2023

From Roger Fitch and our friends down under.

Letter from Washington

The 2023 supreme court term has opened, producing understandable unease because of the bad cases on its docket. The first of such cases, predicted to be its worst, was a 2nd Amendment, "gun rights" case, US v Rahimi, and concerned the right to keep and carry firearms when subject to a domestic violence order. 

Applying Clarence Thomas's bizarre test from last season's Bruen case, the Fifth Circuit found Rahimi was entitled to access his firearms as there were no comparable restrictions on gun ownership in the 18th-century. 

That's quite true: there were few, if any, colonial prosecutions for domestic violence

Rahimi has now been argued, and contrary to expectations it doesn't look good for "gun enthusiasts".  The court may finally be drawing a line on "gun rights". Michael Dorf has more. 

The supreme court will also be hearing a South Carolina redistricting case that could decide the majority in the next congress. The new districting is pretty clearly racist, but since the 2019 supreme court ruling (in Rucho v Common Cause) that partisan gerrymanders are non-justiciable, the Republican legislature has rebranded the districts as merely partisan. 

It's an irrelevant co-incidence that the voters are black; they were  actually targeted for voting Democrat… 

Meanwhile, on the tenth anniversary of Shelby County v Holder, Americans should reflect on the damage caused by one of the most outrageous decisions in US supreme court history, the opinion that judicially annulled the essential section of Lyndon Johnson's landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965

The VRA had only recently been reconfirmed by a near-unanimous bipartisan majority of congress; its extralegal invalidation by the supreme court has never been adequately explained.

The immediate consequence of Shelby County was the introduction of state restrictions on voting that are now notorious: the decision is directly responsible for the ten years of voter disenfranchisement that have followed in Red States, and for the gerrymandered legislatures that are able to perpetuate themselves, as  well as pack and crack congressional districts for the benefit of the Republican party.

Although the US constitution famously lacks an explicit right to vote, 49 state constitutions do contain this right. That's why it's important that state supreme courts remain free of partisan control.

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Thursday, October 26, 2023

Special Rapporteur enters the End of Mission Statement and Mandate into UN permanent records


This GA report supplements the End of Mission statement and puts the mandate report into the permanent record of the United Nations.


The link is here:


It may also be useful to listen to the interventions of Member States in the interactive dialogue, a number of whom made strong statements about the necessary closure of the facility as well as reparation and remedy to those previously and currently detained there.


The link to the interactive dialogue is here:


Thursday, October 5, 2023

Some Good News UPDATED

 On April 20th of this year my last client at Guantanamo was released from the that hellhole after 21 years of detention with no charges ever filed against him. When he was released it was expected that he would be in the custody of the Algerian government for about 10 days. What was not expected, but what happened, is that the Algerian government threw him in prison. It was a fiasco that our government should have prevented - and in fact I had been assured by our state department representatives that everything was taken care of and he would be safe- but in fact the state department did not to insure Saeed's safe transfer. Now, after almost 6 months, Saeed has apparently been released. I am still trying to get confirmation on his release and also confirmation about his health- which I understand is not good.  

My thanks go out to all of the organizations that stepped in to help put pressure on my government to do the right thing- and the Algerian government to release Saeed.

And Special thanks to Fionnuala Ni Aolain the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights while Countering Terrorism and her staff  for their help in righting this wrong. 

Saeed is going to need a lot of help after the trauma of 21 years of captivity and torture. I don't expect he will get that help from my government or the Algerian government but one step at a time.

UPDATE-  true to form,  the State Department is not responding to my request for more information. However, I did learn through my own sources that yes, Saeed has been released, but unfortunately he is released pending his trial. In other words the Algerians are still planning on trying him for something or other related to his 21 year detention at Guantanamo.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

From Roger Fitch and our Friends Down Under at Justinian


The travesty of America's judiciary

Transformation of SCOTUS ... Alito and Thomas's ethical voids ... Rorting and stacking the courts in the Red States ... Circuit mischief ... Trump judges on the loose ... Roger Fitch reports from Washington 

After Donald Trump's presidency, no US government institution, however respected, may be considered safe or immutable. 

Perhaps the most striking change has been the installation of a reactionary and theocratic majority on a rogue supreme court.

The court's new term is about to start, with grave consequences likely; with a prospect that the court may claim even more power

Perhaps it's time to reflect on the court's transformation under its tiresome Chief Justice John Roberts, in the years leading up to this term. In the view of the veteran court observer Linda Greenhouse, the CJ has already achieved everything he set out to do in 2005.

He had the help of justices who had all worked in Republican administrations (Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch,  Kavanaugh) or participated as loyalist Republican lawyers in Bush v Gore (Kavanaugh, Barrett).

During the CJ's early years, the sleeper cell of Sam Alito (appointed 2005) and Clarence Thomas (1991) lay low, awaiting the moment some timely death (e.g, that of Ruth Bader Ginsburg) might make them part of an originalist majority. 

The Republican Senate's refusal to confirm Obama's appointee Merrick Garland (now Biden's AG) brought forward plans, and the unexpected 2016 election of Trump fully activated the two men and their intractable rightwing agenda - witness last year's full-throated implementation by Alito of Catholic abortion policy (Dobbs)and Thomas's expansive, indeed shocking, gun decision (Bruen).

Justices Thomas and Alito both have shocking ethical standards, but the court has declined to adopt an ethics code. Alito actually claims congress has no power to legislate respecting the court, but that's clearly wrong.

Compounding his own ethics problems, Alito recently gave a controversial WSJ interview refuting a yet-unpublished Pro Publica article about him. The interviewer? A lawyer with business before the court

Alito: enforcing Catholic abortion policy on the court 

Thomas's ethics offences are even greater, and arguably impeachable

One law prof's suggestion: a declaratory judgment of violations under the federal recusal statute, to "clarify for the voters whether they should accord legitimacy to the high court". 

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Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Lest we forget...


THE TALKING DOG ON 9-11..(fixed)

Our 9/11 that is...

 The real (most poignant, anyway) legacy of 9-11, near as I can tell, is that the US government’s official policy went from torture is wrong and a serious crime (indeed, a crime against humanity) to what we’re doing isn’t really torture and if it is torture it’s not a big deal, and FUCK IT, TORTURE IS AWESOME! A military judge at GTMO of all places… kind of disagreed, and in an old school ruling, held that torture is still… a problem. Not a problem for likely Republican nominee Donald Trump, of course… who is in the torture is awesome camp. Oh, did I say that out loud?

Read the rest here.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Military Commission Judge says no to torture


From Andy Worthington:

At the heart of Col. Acosta’s measured and devastating opinion is an appalled recognition that the extent of al-Nashiri’s torture, and its location with a system designed to break him and to make him entirely dependent on the whims of his interrogators to prevent further torture, made it impossible for him to have delivered any kind of uncoerced self-incriminating statement to the "clean team" who interviewed him in 2007.

To establish this compelling conclusion, Col. Acosta painstakingly pieces together a narrative of al-Nashiri’s torture that tells this brutal story in more agonizing and forensic detail than any previous account has done, drawing largely on the accounts of al-Nashiri’s torture in the revelatory 500-page unclassified summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report about the CIA torture program — technically, the Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation (RDI) program — which was released in December 2014, on the testimony of numerous experts called by the defense team in hearings between July 2022 and June 2023, and on the testimony of James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, two staff psychologists from the U.S. Air Force SERE school, who were recruited to direct the torture program on the ground.

Read the whole 50 page Opinion here.

Read Andy Worthington's entire piece here.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

From Roger Fitch and our friends down under.

 Accused felon at large

Monday, August 21, 2023
Justinian in Donald Trump, Indictment, Roger Fitch Esq, US Presidential election, US politics

The Washington and Atlanta indictments of Donald Trump ... A large number of lawyers as indicted gangsters ... History of unpunished Republican crimes ... First attempt to hold lawless politicians and operatives to account ... Quandaries and implications ... Possible defences ... Roger Fitch files from Washington 

This column occasionally reports on a colourful American politician facing criminal charges in two four US jurisdictions. Some joke that every fresh indictment increases his popularity among his lemming-like followers. The general electorate could be another matter.

In July, a superseding indictment was returned in the Florida federal court where this Donald John Trump stands charged with unlawfully retaining and concealing classified documents. New counts were added for evidence-tampering.

In August, Mr Trump was indicted twice more. That's encouraging: Americans are usually very slow to investigate and prosecute politicians' crimes, especially those committed by Republicans. 

There's a long history of unpunished Republican Party operations: Nixon's treacherous sabotage of LBJ's 1968 Vietnam peace talks in Paris, leading to seven more years of war; interference in Carter's 1979 negotiations with Iran for the release of American hostages; and the outright theft of the 2000 presidential election. 

Although much has been made of Richard Nixon's come-uppance in the 1970s, he was pardoned and never held to account.

The 80s under Ronald Reagan and Bush the Elder witnessed a crime wave, but with the help of judicially-sanctioned meddling in the Independent Counsel's work, only a few of those indicted in the Iran-Contra scandal (e.g, Defence Secretary Caspar Weinberger) were convicted. Most were pardoned by Bush as he left office.

Beginning in 2001, shocking and uncountable crimes were committed under the lawless G.W. Bush, e.g, round-ups of innocent Muslims, CIA torture, and unlawful military detention and trials. 

All these went unpunished under Bush and his successor Obama, who continued the previous administration's shameful and dishonest practice of asserting the shaky state secrets defence in civilian lawsuits by victims, even against complicit third parties.

The charges against Bush Junior's torture lawyers also went unpunished, after a timid DOJ internal inquiry, and the habitual DOJ fixer John Durham gave the CIA a clean bill of health for actual murders in custody.

Given that background, the indictments during August 2023 were big news: this century's first attempt to hold lawless US government officials and their political accomplices to criminal account.


Friday, August 4, 2023

The forever war legacy

 I have been representing men at Guantanamo for more than 17 years... but not quite 18. Karen Greenberg has been covering all things Guantanamo for more than 18 years-. Her latest at does a nice recap including "Shutting Down Gitmo Is Hardly the Last Step."

read the whole thing here.

Meanwhile-- I am plugging away trying to get my last client out of the Algerian prison-- with no help from the useless state department.

Friday, July 28, 2023


 23 organizations (including the ACLU and Amnesty International) signed on to a letter to the state department demanding that the State department intervene in my client's arrest in Algeria and force the Algerian government to live up to the assurances it made to the State Department when Saeed was released. So far the state department has not responded-- but apparently the state department thinks they are helpless in enforcing the assurances given to them in advance of Saeed's repatriation to Algeria. The state department has also refused to help facilitate my trip to Algeria by making the proper introductions. 

Center for Constitutional Rights spearheaded the organization of the groups signing on to the letter and a big thank you from me (on behalf of Saeed) for their efforts. Read the letter here

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

The Intercept reports on my client

 .........  read the whole article here.

State Shirking Responsibility

Gorman has continued to try to spur the State Department into action on Bakhouch’s behalf. Nearly two full months after Bakhouch was imprisoned in Algeria, Kadainow finally replied with specifics, saying she had “a chance” to speak with relevant diplomatic colleagues.

“Our Ambassador in Algiers was informed that Mr. Bakhouch is being charged under Algerian law for membership/affiliation with a foreign terrorist organization, which is a serious crime under Algerian law,” Kaidanow wrote. “He is currently under pre-trial detention while his case is under review by the Court d’Instruction, which will ultimately decide whether to bring him to trial or dismiss the charges and release him. The information regarding his case is still sealed.”

“Closing Guantanamo is not just about policy, it’s about people — the people who’ve been detained and tortured by the United States.”



Kaidanow added, “We continue to assert our interest in his humane treatment and legal rights in a variety of high-level settings.”

Friday, July 14, 2023

From Roger Fitch and Our Friends Down Under


The infallibility of SCOTUS

US Supreme Court makes it up as it goes along ... Contrived cases to fit a reactionary agenda ... Plaintiffs with no standing ... Further indulgence for religious discrimination ... Under-equipped judges on a rampage ... Roger Fitch reports from Washington 

The supreme court is in free-fall, an outlaw court making extrajudicial decisions. Spurious or controversial legal doctrines, some invented by the court, are deployed to achieve desired results: usually, the rolling-back of progressive legislation. 

A court that once heard 200 cases a year now hears less than 60, yet far from exercising any judicial restraint, the justices seem to relish "culture war" cases that fit the Catholic majority's rightwing agenda.

The cases that the court now agrees to hear, often manufactured by special-interest groups, are designed to give the conservative majority constitutional "cases or controversies" with which they can overturn policy decisions they dislike, and they're not afraid to manipulate standing and jurisdiction in order to hear them.

A common characteristic of these decisions has been the confusion they cause, but more than that, they bring into question the court's legitimacy. There's an apprehension that the court is becoming a super-legislative body from which there is no appeal, infallible because final, and it's borne out by the final decisions of this year's term:

Habeas corpus

The court began by dashing the hopes of prisoners, closing down appeals based on claims of actual innocence, in the appalling Jones v Hendrix, more here.  


Friday, July 7, 2023

No surprises here....

Men, like my Algerian client, were tortured at the hands of the US and have never received the help they so desperately need. 

As reported in The Guardian today:

The first UN investigator to be allowed to visit Guantánamo has called on the US government to provide urgent rehabilitation treatment for the men it tortured in the wake of 9/11 to repair their severe physical and psychological injuries and meet its commitments under international law.

In an interview with the Guardian, the UN monitor on human rights while countering terrorism, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, said that the US had a responsibility to redress the harms it inflicted on its Muslim torture victims. Existing medical treatment, both at the prison camp in Cuba and for detainees released to other countries, was inadequate to deal with multiple problems such as traumatic brain injuries, permanent disabilities, sleep disorders, flashbacks and untreated post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

read the rest here.

It is not enough to release the men. Most of the men, like my client, were never charged with a crime. But they were tortured and detained, many for decades. We must help them.