Friday, March 30, 2007

The Talking Dog on Hicks, the Military Commissions and the Origins of "Kangaroo Justice" (a re-post):

Back when I interviewed him in '05, Josh Dratel [one of the two disqualified Hicks lawyers] said he felt the term kangaroo court (when representing an Australian before one!) was too corny... but it's not, of course. Fake justice and preordained outcomes weren't unique to colonial Australia, but somehow, the name "kangaroo courts" actually derives, like the fake justice Hicks is receiving, from the UNITED STATES-- to wit, it is a term used to "try" claim jumpers in good old Wild West gold rush era California... So... I daresay, with those auspicious AMERICAN origins, "kangaroo court" remains a most fair thing to call it.

Frankly, Hicks likely prefers the comparative normality of even a maximum security Australian prison (which he will doubtless not serve a full sentence in if he serves in one all, given what an utter albatross around the Howard government's neck his case represents)... rather than stay any longer down the legal rathole of GTMO than otherwise necessary.

I guess it's time for COl. Davis to trot out OBL's auto mechanic (Hamdan), or perhaps the 15 year old kid (Khadr), or one of the other avatars of evil for yet another try at a show trial, given how successful the Hicks thing has proven...

--the talking dog

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

New from Project Hamad:

Check out this new video put together by Adel Hamad's attorneys. It features Martin Sheen!

Colonel Moe Davis Takes a Page from Ho Chi Minh's Playbook

The Military Commissions Chief Prosecutor, Colonel Moe Davis (known for his six-point plan for manipulating the media,) was interviewed this morning on an Australian radio program. You can either play a real audio stream of the entire program or download an mp3 file of the segment.

This is our favorite quote:

During the Vietnam War we had Americans who were detained by the Vietnamese for more than 9 years, they were never charged, never set foot in a courtroom. So I dont apologize for, um, the fact that it has been 5 years in this case - it's regrettable and but he is going to get his day in court and a fair trial.

- Adrian Bleifuss Prados

P.S.: Eric Freedman alerts us to a recent piece of news; Vietnam has
abolished the practice of holding national security detainees without trial.

H. Candace Gorman on Hicks' Plea

As many of you know, David Hicks plead guilty on Monday to "providing material support" to terrorism. Candace offers her take on the story in this piece (cross-posted at Huffington):

David Hicks, the Australian man that has been held in Guantánamo for five years, (the last year or so in solitary confinement) agreed to plead guilty yesterday. There are a few things you should know about his plea. First, and most importantly, Hicks is pleading guilty to a crime that did not exist on the books until September of 2006.

All of the original charges (the serious ones) were dropped against Hicks because the military had no evidence against him. Mr. Hicks was confined at Guantánamo until a new law could be passed that he could then be charged with. Never mind the fact that our constitution prohibits ex post facto (retroactive) laws, I mean that is why we are holding him at Guantánamo right?
The other thing you should know is what was clear to anyone paying attention: there was never going to be a hearing. The most recent evidence of that was when Hicks stepped into his arraignment yesterday and the first thing that happened was that two of his three attorneys were removed from representing him. Hicks' civilian attorney was removed because he refused to sign a statement agreeing to abide by military rules that had not yet been drafted and another attorney was removed because she supposedly did not have the correct credentials for the commission. That left Hicks with only one attorney, his military attorney, Dan Mori. Although Mori has been doing an exemplary job for Hicks, there was a little cloud hanging over Mori: the prosecuting attorney has suggested that Mori should be
brought up on charges of misconduct for his zealous defense of Hicks. Mori was still trying to figure out how that threat by the prosecuting attorney would affect his representation of Hicks. Mori sought a short continuance to get legal counsel on this issue but that request was denied.

So yesterday, after two of his three attorneys were removed from representing him and the prosecuting attorney was attempting to intimidate the third, Hicks asked the military judge for additional counsel to help level the playing field. That request was denied... leveling the playing field is not what the military had in mind. The writing was clear on the glistening red, white and blue walls of the commission hearing room and David Hicks did the only thing that could possibly make sense in this abhorrent proceeding. He pled guilty to something that was not even against the law when he was arrested. Hicks' only hope is that he will be sent to Australia to serve his sentence and that perhaps, in time, a court in Australia will agree that pleading guilty to a crime that did not exist when he was arrested should be considered a nullity. Only problem is, Australia does not have a constitutional prohibition against ex post facto laws... I wonder if that is how the phrase "kangaroo court' first came to be?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Former Prisoners Speak Out

Our friends at the UC Davis Center for Human Rights in the Americas have put up this audio recording (in mp3 format) of a panel of British former detainees.

The panel, which included Moazzam Begg, was part of this year's Guantánamo Conference at St. Anne's College in Oxford. The file is rather large so be patient.

- Adrian Bleifuss Prados

Friday, March 23, 2007


So today we learned that the new secretary of defense wanted to close Guantánamo, but Cheney and his side kick Gonzales said “no.” To anyone paying attention it is no surprise they do not want Guantánamo closed. I mean, look at Gonzales’ best terrorist cases that were tried in our federal courts… all miserable failures. Why in the world would Gonzo want to put the Guantánamo prisoners on trial in a real courtroom for the entire world to see? That is why Guantánamo must stay open, that is why the men dribble out of Guantánamo in the dark of night a few at a time in hopes that no one is paying any attention. No, Gonzo and his man Cheney will fight to keep gitmo open because the truth behind Guantánamo is even more embarrassing than the political firing of prosecutors.
You see, no federal court in this country would ever convict a man because he was wearing a “casio watch;” or because a man stayed in the same guest house (our closest equivalent would be a B & B) where someone who might have been a terrorist might have stayed, at some point in time; or because some unknown person claimed they saw you in a suspicious place. Oh yeah, and no federal court would allow someone to be convicted based on evidence that cannot be told to the prisoner.
The attorney general is supposed to be the top lawyer of our land but GW’s man Gonzo did not even know that habeas corpus was guaranteed under our constitution. Even if Gonzo did not bother taking constitutional law while in law school you would think that he would have picked up on the concept in a history class or somewhere along the way in his career. But, I guess you don’t become a yes man because of your brains. You become a yes man because you will disregard anything and everything you (may) have learned and act in blind loyalty… to what? Not to our country but to a corrupt and incompetent president.
So this third rate lawyer who thinks it is ok to torture people (just short of organ failure), who thinks it is ok to have secret prisons and send suspects to countries that don’t have the organ failure prohibition, who thinks it is ok to listen in on our telephone conversations and review our bank records without bothering to get approval from a court and who thinks his army of attorneys are there for his master’s political agenda, cannot allow Guantánamo to be closed. His fear is that someone might care that we have been holding men without justification for over five years and they might want to hold him responsible. I, for one, don’t think he has anything to worry about on that score.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

New on Huffington Post:

Candace has a new piece on Huffington Post; consider it an opportunity to expand your Latin lexicon. Caveat auditor, "let the listener beware" is a good principle to keep in mind when listening to the Bush administration's drivel...but does it go far enough?

These guys are a piece of work....

The note posted above is the government's response to Candace's request that her Libyan client, Mr. Al-Ghizzawi, be moved from Camp 6 to a different facility.

Candace's Libyan client, Mr. Al-Ghizzawi, is being held in Guantánamo's newest (and cruelest) prison complex. Inmates at Camp 6 are subjected to prolonged, psychologically devastating isolation and can go weeks without access to natural light. They are sometimes invited to take outdoor recreation time late at night or in the wee hours of the morning. (Read more about Camp 6 here.)

Furthermore, the prisoners are kept perpetually cold, making them pine for the days when they were kept in open cages as tropical storms rolled overhead.

The government's response is typical; a bold-faced denial of the problem and a brief dismissal.
- Adrian Bleifuss Prados
P.S. from H. Candace Gorman:

FYI- I redacted the name of the military attorney that sent me this response, not because I wanted to protect his identity, (I don't really care) but because he is so low level that it is clear this was not his decision. I suspect that the exact wording of his response came from his superior Major McCarthy... more on him later.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

More on David Hicks:

Our hero, Major Mori, reports that David Hicks was sedated last month by his jailers. Guantánamo's inmates have long maintained that they have been forcibly treated with sedatives and other psychoactive drugs.

Hicks' father, Terry Hicks, hopes to attend his son's military commission appearance.

- Adrian Bleifuss Prados

Monday, March 19, 2007

A Note on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

Clearly, the administration's spin-doctors are using Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's confessions to justify the Combatant Status Review Tribunal process.

Let us remember that Sheikh Mohammed's presence in Camp Delta has been a PR stunt since his (relatively recent) arrival with 13 other "high value" detainees during the legislative push for the Military Commissions Act.

As Captain Yee observes:

It became more clear that if our military and government had captured a legitimate terrorist suspect, they would not have been brought to Guantanamo Bay at all, but to the secret CIA black sites, that the President admitted existed when he transferred 14 so-called "high value" terrorist suspects to Guantanamo in September 2006 in order to get Congressional support for the Military Commissions Act after the Administration lost in its attempt to unilaterally impose military commissions of its own devising after the Hamdan case. Only at that time were any real terrorists possibly connected with September 11th brought to GTMO.

- Adrian Bleifuss Prados

More Tidbits:

A replica of David Hicks' cell tours Australia.

Spaniards march against Guantánamo.

British residents in limbo.

Editorial on GTMO and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed from The Telegraph.

- Adrian Bleifuss Prados

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


James Yee on the Talking Dog

The Talking Dog is a reliable source of excellent interviews on Guantánamo. On Sunday, TD posted an interview with James Yee, Guantánamo's former Muslim Chaplain. Captain Yee was charged with espionage and sedition as well as numerous other charges (all of which were dropped).

The interview touches on the rarely-reported juvenile prisoners held in Camp Iguana:

As for the juveniles, there were at least three boys in Camp Iguana between 12 and 14 years old. There were at least 6 others, by the way, who were 15 or 16, definitely younger than 18, in general population. The three in Camp Iguana I met weekly. We were led to believe they were "hard core terrorists" but this was utterly ridiculous. The guards in charge of them would frequently discipline them with "time-outs" just as many American parents discipline their own children.

And on the Yee's general impression of the GMTO population:

The expectations I had, both from the military itself and our political leaders, were that we were holding 700 totally hard core terrorists. Of course, that's not at all what I encountered when I got there. It became clear that none of the individuals we were holding at Guantanamo were connected in any way to the September 11th attacks. It became more clear that if our military and government had captured a legitimate terrorist suspect, they would not have been brought to Guantanamo Bay at all, but to the secret CIA black sites, that the President admitted existed when he transferred 14 so-called "high value" terrorist suspects to Guantanamo in September 2006 in order to get Congressional support for the Military Commissions Act after the Administration lost in its attempt to unilaterally impose military commissions of its own devising after the Hamdan case. Only at that time were any real terrorists possibly connected with September 11th brought to GTMO.

New on Huffington Post:

Candace has a new entry on Huffington Post in which she asks, just how many detainees have actually "returned to the battlefied?"

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Note on Mishal al-Harbi:

Sunday's Washington Post featured an article on Mishal al-Harbi, a former Guantánamo inmate who suffered brain damage under mysterious while at the base. Al-Harbi's family suspects that he was beaten by the guards, the U.S. maintains that the his brain was deprived of oxygen during an attempted suicide by hanging. Either way, al-Harbi is a victim of the Guantánamo's brutality and dehumanization.

Today, the internet news service Islam Online, features its own angry response (via Turkish Weekly) to al-Harbi's story ... another example of how Guantánamo undermines the U.S.' stated aim of improving its image in the Muslim world.

- Adrian Bleifuss Prados

The Boston Globe Speaks Up for the Uighurs

Yesterday, in a strong editorial (featuring quotes from our friend Sabin Willett), the Boston Globe denounced the treatment and continued "detention" of the Guantánamo Uighurs, members of a Muslim ethnic group from western China.
So Guantanamo will continue as an international symbol of this country's retreat from its rule-of-law traditions. Gates has wisely decided not to go ahead with a planned $100 million court complex for the base. He could make it even clearer that he is changing the self-destructive course the country is on there by releasing the Uighurs.
Releasing the Uighurs would be a good start - but let's not forget the hundreds of other prisoners languishing in that Cuban dungeon, victims of the Bush Administration's kangaroo justice.

- Adrian Bleifuss Prados

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Gagging of Michael Mori

Apparently, Colonel Moe Davis' six-point strategy for media manipulation has been axed in favor of simpler methods.
According to The Age, Major Michael Mori, David Hick's military attorney, has been gagged by the authorities for campaigning a bit too effectively in the Land Down Under.
- Adrian Bleifuss Prados

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Reporters Without Borders on Sami Al-Haj

The Paris-based group is speaking out on behalf of Sudanese cameraman Sami Al-Haj, who is now on hunger strike:

Al-Haj has been held by the Americans for five years without being charged, in disgraceful conditions and in violation of all international conventions on the treatment of prisoners ... Legitimately but in vain, he tried to assert his rights to the military authorities. While we could not encourage him to pursue a hunger strike, we strongly condemn the fact that he was fed by force.

The Washington Post on Colonel Moe:

Are the editors of the Washington Post reading Huffington Post?

Reporter Envy II:

The DoD has announced press briefings on the 14 "high value detainees" being held at GTMO. While these men have been given no access to lawyers, reporters are now being allowed to review their Combatant Status Review Tribunals.

The DoD is also briefing the media (but not habeas counsel) on the Administrative Review Board process. Candace recently sent submissions on behalf of her clients for the latest round of ARBs.

Maybe some friendly reporter will fill us in?

Monday, March 5, 2007

Moe and his six-point plan...

In a new Huff-Po piece, Candace goes after Colonel Moe Davis, the chief prosecutor for the GTMO military commissions. Moe is in the awkward position of having to defend Guantánamo's Kangaroo justice. Apparently his strategy involves attacking Major Dan Mori, the military defense lawyer of Australian prisoner David Hicks. Fortunately, the Colonel has prepared a six-point manual on how to manipulate the press.
The Colonel put his thoughts into writing in a really interesting article that set up his "six point plan" for effectively engaging the military in public opinion. Moe's plan calls for the military to be a bit more aggressive in how it handles the media. It's a plan that calls for the military to go on the offensive and "define" a controversy before it "erupts." You have to give the Colonel credit for foresight, he knew that this was definitely one of those controversies that was ripe for eruption: not only because all of the serious charges against Hicks were dropped; but also because the only charge left against Hicks was something that wasn't even against the law when Hicks was arrested...ouch. Couple that with the increased awareness by the Australian people about the real story behind Hicks and Guantánamo, and you have a bonafide controversy waiting to erupt.

Moazzam Begg talks to the Dog

The Talking Dog has posted another excellent interview; this time with former Guantánamo inmate, Moazzam Begg. Here are a few highlights:

Begg recalls his relationships with the guards:
The interrogators and guards varied from person to person and from place to place. Bagram was a much harsher regime than even Guantanamo... I came across a number of decent soldiers and interrogators that I would be happy to call friends. At Guantanamo I had a number of conversations, and indeed, interpersonal relationships, with guards that I considered just amazing. I learned an awful lot from these people, and about them.
And his time in the prisons at the Bagram airbase:
I will never forget what transpired in Bagram... this is the base that was bombed just the day before yesterday [during Dick Cheney's visit to Afghanistan].. I was held there for a year. I was hog-tied– left in painful positions or hours, interrogated, kicked, beaten,... but I remember the screaming of a woman in the next cell, and I was led to believe that she was my wife.

I witnessed the deaths (or the beatings that led to the deaths) of two detainees at Bagram... this will never go away.

I met a number of former Irish prisoners... they were interned for years without trial, held in hoods, subjected to white noise– the commonality of their experience with mine was remarkable... just replace Northern Ireland with Guantanamo and it was almost virtually the same.