Tuesday, June 1, 2021

From Roger Fitch and our friends down under

 Aside from Iraq, George Bush's most transgressive, flagrant flouting of law was establishing a scheme of indefinite detention and military trials at Guantánamo (history here); there the well-documented contempt for international and US domestic law has persisted for years, with a scaffold of purported legality cobbled from extrajudicial acts, political inaction and appellate court acquiescence. 

It's been mostly unlawful from the outset: the secret confinement and torture of invented "illegal enemy combatants" (many of them lawful belligerents); the treatment of men as "war prisoners" who were apprehended (rarely by Americans) for suspected civilian terrorism.

Compounding all that, the arbitrary denial of prisoner of war status hearings, in an "international" conflict that should have attracted full Geneva Convention protections. 

Even the protections of Common Article Three, applicable to "non-international" conflicts, were denied, and Pentagon officials who attempted to provide Geneva protections were sacked (Rick Baccus), bullied (Stuart Couch) and even jailed (Matthew Diaz). 

Lt Comdr Diaz: jailed for sending Guantánamo names to the Centre for Constitutional Rights

Internationally non-compliant military trials were set up, trials that, as law profs David Glazier and David Frakt argued, could themselves be classified as war crimes, and it was all done to avoid legal civilian trials, now rendered impossible because they are tainted by torture and cruelty in violation of the Convention Against Torture

Most "convictions" for non-crimes have been overturned on appeal, and perhaps only one charge has been validly pursued, the current one against Abd al-Hadi al-Iraq for killing civilians in a war zone, during a war.

Throughout, the US has denied the men the most basic protection of the US constitution and Anglo-American common law: the unfettered habeas corpus that would have resulted in the release of many of them years ago.

The prisoners' entitlement to full habeas and due process is still being contested by the government, in the Al-Hela case pending before an en banc DC Court of Appeals, a case destined for the supreme court. 

Also pending is the Abu Zubaydah appeal for a civil subpoena, where the state secrets doctrine is being shamefully employed to protect CIA torturers whose identity is a matter of public record. More here

Court observers Karen Greenberg and Linda Greenhouse comment on the current state of litigation. 

The Biden administration is meanwhile resolving another Bush-Obama miscarriage of justice, that of Majid Khan, by cutting a deal that will avoid discussion, at his sentencing, of CIA torture. 

Three other prisoners are to be released, including the oldestSaifullah Paracha, another injustice righted. Still held are people like Mohammed Al-Qahtani: the Pentagon's own Convening Authority declined to refer him for trial, conceding he'd been tortured.


Monday, May 31, 2021

From the talking dog


From my perspective, I just try to cling to my own corner of truth [as well as justice and, to the extent consistent with those, which isn't often enough IMHO, the American way] for whomever is still interested in reading about it. And along the way, we can look at some other milestones. Next January, the military prison for Muslim men and boys at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba will have been open for twenty years, even as speculation remains that the Biden administration might be considering finally closing it. Interestingly, the "Periodic Review Board" added three names to the "cleared for release" group, bringing that number up to nine out of the forty remaining prisoners.

For the record, those prisoners are Saifullah Paracha, 73, of Pakistan; Abdul Rabbani, 54, of Pakistan; and Uthman Abdul al-Rahim Uthman, 40, of Yemen. Over the years, I interviewed one of Paracha's attorneys, Gaillard Hunt, and I interviewed one of Uthman's attorneys, Marc Falkoff. I'm pretty sure that Cori Crider, then of Reprieve when I interviewed her, also represented Rabbani, as did Jon Eisenberg, who I also interviewed. Hope springs eternal, though I suspect that come next January, my friend Candace's client Saeed Bakouche a/k/a Razak Ali of Algeria will probably still be held at GTMO (particularly in light of recent legal developements in his case), and I expect my friend Andy to resume his annual visits [as the pandemic dies down, please God] so we can all go down to D.C. to protest GTMO on what I fear will be its 20th anniversary.




Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Supreme Court denies Razak's cert petition

 It was a long shot but I had hoped they would grant my motion to not decide the case - because the DC Circuit Court had granted en banc in a case with similar issues. Unfortunately they did not put the case on hold and so Razak is once again out of luck.

You can read more here.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

To Razak Ali's mother


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Can (will) Biden close Guantanamo

A must read from TomDispatch -- followed by Karen Greenberg's analysis -- on whether we will finally see the end of Guantanamo.

 The difficulty of closing Guantánamo has shown that once you move outside the laws and norms of this country in a significant way, the return to normalcy becomes ever more problematic — and the longer the exception, the harder such a restoration will be. Remember that, before his presidency was over, George W. Bush went on record acknowledging his preference for closing Guantánamo. Obama made it a goal of his presidency from the outset. Biden, with less fanfare and the lessons of their failures in mind, faces the challenge of finally closing America’s forever prison.

Read the rest here.

h/o to Walt

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Fitch is back...

 *   *   *

Biden's litigation posture in pending legal proceedings commenced during Trump's term has been much more progressive than Obama's when he took office (see Fitch, Feb. 24, 2009). Obama accepted and pursued Bush arguments that suited him (e.g, for the accumulation of executive powers), but Biden has altered the government's position in many pending cases. Some major lawsuits remain to be sorted.

Biden's administration has nevertheless availed itself of some harmful rules and regs from the Trump era, and needlessly appealed the Julian Assange extradition that was denied in Britain. 

The Pentagon has announced new military commission charges, against Hambali, a terrorist with no connection to any war, or the US, other than American Bali-bombing victims - far fewer than the Australians affected. 

Biden's Guantánamo litigation strategy complicates senior senators' efforts to close the prison; their arguments, however, assume the continuance of military prosecutions, only one of which truly involves a war-time war crime: that of Abd Al Hadi.

In theory, the promised official end to the war in Afghanistan should bar US claims that the men are detained as "war prisoners". Much depends on Guantánamo appeals headed for (likely unsympathetic) supreme court review.

*   *   *

Read the whole thing here...

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Any bets on how this will go?

 WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether the government can block a detainee at Guantánamo Bay from obtaining information from two former C.I.A. contractors involved in torturing him on the ground that it would expose state secrets.

Read the article here.

yes, we should close Guantanamo

 But send these men that have never been charged with a crime to the U.S.? 

NO....Send them home. NOW.

read the op-ed from the former envoy in charge of  doing something with Guantanamo under Obama...

h/o to Don for sending.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Sorry Bob, but the times are not a changin just yet...

 As per my musical interlude in the last post, staying alive in this country of mine is truly difficult if you are not white. And no amount of police training will change that right now -- because the police follow their training (for the most part) when dealing with white people. They do not shoot and kill, stomp on our necks or other manner of torture and killing -- when you are white.  

The answer is difficult and it is made more difficult with the cute language for the alternative -- defund the police. The person that gave that alternative should be.. well anyway. 

It is not helpful to suggest defunding the police because the language scares the hell out of white people-- and unfortuately white people are in charge. We here in the US of A  live in a police militarized state and the enemy is people of color. Real change is extremely difficult but yesterdays verdict gives a modicum of hope.

My friend the Talking Dog has a great post on this issue here.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

musical interlude

Staying alive in the U.S. of A....difficult if you are black.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Once released from Guantanamo --you are never really free

 The men released from Guantanamo, for the most part, are never really free. They carry the stigma of having been kept at Guantanamo and labeled a terrorist -- and they carry the scars. Scars from the torture, isolation and years of captivity. When they are released they know little about any deals that were made between the U.S. government and their host country. They are provided little, if any, support.

This is the story of one such man --Lutfi bin Ali. Unfortunately, it is a story that is all to familiar.

Monday, April 5, 2021


 Some time in the last 60 days Camp 7 was closed. Camp 7 was the super secret prison at Guantanamo where the so-called "high value" detainees were held. High value of course took on new meaning for many of these men as they were never charged with a crime. But all were tortured. Tortured, over and over again. 

The 14 or so men who were all held at Camp 7 were moved to Camp 6. Camp 6 was the "new" prison built by a subsidiary of Haliburton circa 2007 (I will have to look up my notes to see if I have the year correct but it was around that time). Camp 6 and Camp 5 are adjoining structures and most of the rest of the men are held at Camp 5, unless they are given a time out for one reason or another, and then they would be moved over to Camp 6 as punishment. I will have more to say about the two prisons once this place is finally closed.

A short article about the move can be found here.

Monday, March 29, 2021

The first men at Gitmo and where they are now...

 As Carol Rosenberg notes -- the first 20 men were called "the worst of the worst..." 18 of them were released long ago and of the two that remain one is cleared for release -- and has been cleared for a very long time. The other-- I believe I am correct in that he pled guilty to war crimes but has serious mental health issues and was unrepresented by counsel. I might be confusing him and if so I will update this but I am pretty sure this is the case.

Read the whole article here.

h/o to Devin and Don who tied in sending this article to me!

Friday, February 26, 2021

Free Showing of The Mauritanian on March 6th (for the first 300 to rsvp)

  Code Pink and World Can't Wait are doing a joint showing of the movie on March 6. The first 300 to RSVP will get to see the film free-- the rest of you will get a link to rent the movie. 

You're invited to watch the film, The Mauritanian without payment
Meet Mohamedou Slahi and Nancy Hollander
Saturday March 6 3:00 - 6:15 pm EST

Organized by CodePink & co-sponsored by World Can't Wait
>> Facebook event you could share
>> Here's where to RSVP for a free ticket and get the Zoom link

Join with the movement to #CloseGITMO and be part of a conversation about The Mauritanian, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Shailene Woodley, Tahar Rahim, and Jodie Foster. Based on a true story, The Mauritanian follows attorney Nancy Hollander, her associate and a military prosecutor who uncover a far-reaching conspiracy while investigating the case of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, tortured over three years during the Bush administration, and unjustly imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for fourteen years.

Special guests will introduce the film at 3:00 pm EST. Following the screening we will have a live Q & A with Mohamedou Ould Slahi, the author of Guantanamo Diary, and Nancy Hollander who represented him -- the real people played by Tahar Rahim and Jodie Foster.

RSVP to receive your link to the community Zoom gathering and Q & A session here. The first 300 people to RSVP will receive a free ticket to watch the film; you can watch the film before Saturday or between the introduction and the Q and A. Those who RSVP after the first 300 will receive a link to rent the film to watch and will also receive the link to the live intro and Q & A.