Monday, April 30, 2007

Get Ready for Tomrrow's Call-In! gets the word out!

The Worst of the Worst?

The Bushies say Guantánamo holds the "worst of the worst," but other than a handful of "high value detainees" (brought in for show before the Military Commissions Act was passed) and a recent arrival from a secret CIA dungeon, this is clearly nonesense.

As the Washington Post reports, more than 80 prisoners have been cleared for release by the government's own procedures....and yet they continue to languish in Guantánamo. The U.S. blames diplomatic impasses, but clearly they prefer to release prisoners in a slow trickle, which makes for less embarrassment (and less of a news story) than a mass-release of dozens of wrongfully imprisoned men and boys.

- Adrian Bleifuss Prados

A good resource:

Last Thursday (April 26), the Senate Armed Services Committee heard testimony "on legal issues regarding individuals detainedby the Department of Defense as unlawful enemy combatants."

The Seton Hall reports, authored by Mark and Joshua Denbeaux, were submitted to the Committee and are conveniently collected on Committee's website, HERE.

- Adrian Bleifuss Prados

Friday, April 27, 2007


OK, a show of hands please, how many of you thought about me when you saw the article about how the military wants to keep the lawyers out of Guantánamo? It seems the military thinks that we attorneys are acting as a conduit for the media! (If only it were true…) Anyway, that is bush talk for saying that we are doing a heck of a job exposing our clients’ conditions and our government’s un-American activities. We haven’t exposed any deep dark secrets and you should take note of the fact that the military has not accused any of us of misconduct or illegal activity… What they are accusing us of is being in the way. Too bad for them. I, for one, plan on staying “in the way” until the place closes.
So what is going on now? A brief summary: In October, our republican congress passed the military commissions act (MCA), a law that sent our country back to the Middle Ages by repealing the ancient writ of habeas corpus. (And don’t let these scum bags tell you otherwise, this law does not just apply to detainees at Guantánamo.. .it applies to any non-citizen and in the long run could even be applied to citizens that the prez determines are enemy combatants.) In the old days (before October 2006) habeas corpus allowed people being held by the government to challenge their detention by requiring the government to answer some simple questions: like why they were being held and what they were accused of doing. Anyway our government did away with that little law that had been around for 800 years or so.
At the same time the republican congress abolished habeas corpus it proclaimed that the only thing the Guantánamo detainees could challenge is their designation of having been determined to be an enemy combatant…. but the determination of being an enemy combatant was a rigged deal… and many of the detainees did not even participate in the proceedings because they were (correctly) told (by the military) that they did not have to participate because, get this, they had the right to challenge their detention in our federal courts… (oops on that one, huh?)
Well now the courts are closing their doors to the Guantánamo detainees. The appellate court said that the MCA is a legit law, the Supreme Court said it is too early to decide if the law is legit and the men at Guantánamo… well, they will continue to languish at Guantánamo for who knows how long.
And that brings me back to the lawyers… we are the trouble makers because we bring our client’s stories front and center. We are telling you who the men are and what they were doing (or more importantly what they were not doing) when they were sold to our government in return for bounties.
Bush and our military want to get back to the way things were… cages, water boarding… you know the drill. Meanwhile, we attorneys are fighting like hell to continue to represent these men and to visit and write to our clients… but it would sure be nice to have a little help about now.
Law Day. Tuesday May 1st. Can you help us out and contact your senators and your reps and tell them to restore habeas corpus and close the place? And can you ask everyone you know to do the same? If you do your part, I promise that the other habeas counsel and I will do our part and continue to be in the way

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Statement of Omar Khadr's Lawyers

``We have just learned that our client, Omar Khadr, has been charged by the United States government with several offenses that are not even valid war crimes, for which he will be tried by military commission under The Military Commissions Act of 2006. This is the third set of charges laid against Omar. Yet, no matter how many times the government issues new charges, the military commissions system will continue to be an illegitimate one. Indeed, the system is virtually indistinguishable from the one previously invalidated by the Supreme Court in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld just last year.

'The recent plea agreement accepted by David Hicks after less than a day of military commission proceedings and after significant negotiations between Australia and the U.S. demonstrates that the resolution of these cases is political and not the result of a legal process. Clearly, the U.S. is using the case of Omar in an attempt to rehabilitate the military commissions, which Hicks' plea demonstrated is a tainted process. In doing so, the U.S. will be the first country in modern history to try an individual who was a child at the time of the alleged war crimes. Indeed, the charge of conspiracy against Omar is based on alleged acts some of which occurred when Omar was less than 10 years of age.

``Omar Khadr was taken into U.S. custody at the age of 15 and has been detained at Guantánamo since he was 16, in conditions equal to or worse than those given to convicted adult criminals, such as prolonged solitary confinement and repeated instances of torture. After nearly 5 years in such conditions, the government is now demanding his appearance before what can only amount to a kangaroo court. The fact that this Administration has seen fit to designate this youth for trial by military commission is abhorrent.

``Now is the time for Canada and the U.S. to negotiate a political resolution because the commissions system is incapable of justice. Otherwise, Omar, just barely twenty years of age and a minor at the time of the alleged crimes, is guaranteed to be convicted in one of the greatest show trials on earth. This should not be the legacy of America or Canada.''


Muneer Ahmad
Kristine Huskey
Richard Wilson
American University
College of Law
Washington D.C.
Lt. Col. Colby Vokey
U.S. Marine Corps.
Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler
U.S. Navy

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

More Odds & Ends

  • Naomi Wolf offers ten-part instructions on how to close down an open society; step 2: create a gulag:
    Once you have got everyone scared, the next step is to create a prison system outside the rule of law (as Bush put it, he wanted the American detention centre at Guantánamo Bay to be situated in legal "outer space") - where torture takes place. Read More
  • German-born Murat Kurnaz, has published a memoir, Five Years of My Life about his horrific experiences in Guantánamo.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Moroccan-Born British Resident May be Released

Ahmed Errachidi, a 41-year-old British resident, has been a imprisoned without charge since his capture by bounty hunters in late 2001. (Sound familiar?)

Errachidi has spent three of the last five years in solitary confinement (a psychologically devastating period of isolation). He has been denied due process for years; been beaten and periodically pepper-sprayed ... and now an Administrative Review Board has determined that he is not a threat and should be released.

Unfortunately, because Errachidi is not a British citizen, the U.K. has recused itself of any obligation to bring him home. Emily Thornberry, Mr. Errachidi's local Labour Party MP has this to say:

Guantanamo Bay is an affront to international law. While Ahmed Errachidi has been in Guantanamo he has been subject to appalling abuse and has suffered at least one severe mental breakdown. He should never have been in Guantanamo Bay and he certainly shouldn't be there for a moment longer.

It's completely unacceptable that Ahmed should be left in limbo like this, while the international community wrings its hands about the detainees the US no longer wants.

Surely he has more than sufficient compassionate grounds to be allowed to come back to Britain. Ahmed must be released immediately and I have written to George Bush to tell him so.

- Adrian Bleifuss Prados

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Journalists Call for Release of Sami Al-Haj....

Sami Al-Haj, the cameraman held at Guantánamo, has now been on hunger strike for one hundred days.

The International Federation of Journalists, a trade union representing 500,000 of Al-Haj's professional colleagues around the world, has issued a press release calling on the U.S. to release Al-Haj:

IFJ Demands Release of Guantanamo Cameraman after 100 Days of Hunger Strike


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) called on the US government to release Al-Jazeera cameraman, Sami al-Haj, who this morning started his 100th day of hunger strike after almost five-years of detention at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Centre. Al-Haj was first arrested crossing into Afghanistan with a legitimate visa on 15 December 2001. He was held by the US military at the Bagram base before being transferred to Guantanamo on 13th June 2002. Since then he has been interrogated over 150 occasions, tortured, and accused of terrorism offences. He has never been charged or brought to trial. READ MORE

- Adrian Bleifuss Prados

Monday, April 16, 2007

New on Hufington Post:

Candace's latest piece on Huffington Post discusses recent developments in her Libyan client, Al-Ghizzawi's sad story. Al-Ghizzawi has finally been allowed to see a doctor...but apparently the medical authorities at Guantánamo have no interest in treating his liver condition; the good doctor would only examine Al-Ghizzawi's leg. Mr. Al-Ghizzawi is despondent, his latest letter features this heart-breaking plea:

"Finally, I would like to ask from you the following: to request from the American Government to ship my body to Afghanistan, to my wife, so that I will be near her and my daughter and be buried there. If that was not possible, ask them to ship my body to my family in Libya. The important thing is that I won't be buried under any circumstance in Cuba."

Read more on Huff-Po.

Candace in the Chronicle:

The San Francisco Chronicle picked up a recent article from In These Times, featuring a crucial correction; the ghoulies that guard 'Azkaban,' the dreaded prison of the Harry Potter series, are called 'dementors' and not 'tormentors.'

Some Odds & Ends:

Photo: MSNBC

AP (via Miami Herald):
"Democratic hopefuls tutored on Guantánamo." Says John Edwards: 'The scandals of Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, and secret prisons have tarnished our moral standing and set a dangerous precedent for repressive regimes around the world ... The true tragedy is that -- as these military leaders make clear -- these steps have made us less safe, not safer."

Radio Australia:

Echo Online:

AP (Via Courier Post):
Patti Smith records song about former GTMO-detainee, Murat Kurnaz

Pocono Record:

Stop Torture Taxis Protest

Here is more footage of demonstrations against Aero Contractors, the North Carolina-based company employed by the CIA to fly "torture taxis" to and from black sites.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


When the Supreme Court announced it would not hear the latest guantantamo cases.... at least not now... it opened the flood gates for the judges to start throwing our clients cases out of court... I filed documents this past week in a desperate attempt to keep my two cases alive because only by keeping the cases alive can I hope to keep one of my two clients alive. He is dying of hepatitis and not being treated. As the government said in response to one of my court filings...

with the upholding of the military commissions act by the appellate court and the supreme court's failure to take the issue, no court has any right now to question anything that goes on at Guantanamo anymore.....
It should make you shudder.

The attorneys for the guantanamo detainees have decided it is time to pay a visit to our senators and representatives. Join us on May 1st, make appointments to see your own representatives and tell them it is time to restore habeas corpus and close the place.

If you can't join us on May 1st, send emails, make phone calls, send faxes, send telegrams.... and send primroses. Why primroses?

When my clientMr. Al-Ghizzawi was explaining to me his early years at Guantanamo, he told me about a flower that had appeared outside his cage in the spring of 2002. Just one little flower poking its beautiful leaves and petals out of the sand. He was describing the flower to me, but I couldn’t quite figure out what kind of flower it was. He called it a primrose and maybe it was. He said to me “I am like that little flower. It didn’t belong there…. I don’t belong here either.”


Saturday, April 14, 2007

North Carolina: First in Flight, Not First in>Torture

Watch the video of this group in North Carolina that is targeting a local airline>services company, Aero Contractors, because that company has provided flights for the CIA program of "extraordinary rendition." Extraordinary rendition is a legalistic phrase for kidnapping people off the streets of countries like Italy and Bosnia, without warrants, and shipping them secretly to secret prisons. Often the people are tortured in those prisons.
These Tarheels' slogan: North Carolina: First in Flight, Not First in Torture.
8 were arrested at this protest as they tried to serve the company officials with "arrest warrants".

If you want to know more about the CIA rendition program read Stephen Grey's book "GHOST PLANES".

Friday, April 13, 2007

Filing court papers, guantanamo style

It is fair to say that I posted this latest article on because of the frustration of having to go thru these annoying procedures everytime we file anything. .. But as I was sitting around stewing over the fact that I had to get a copy of my last filing from my opposing counsel I realized that it was also important to make a record of all of these procedures for the future... I guess that is the lawyer in me!

Filing Court Papers, Guantanamo Style

Yes, I know the government claims that there are big bad secrets in many of the documents that only we attorneys get to see and that the government needs to keep those documents out of the public eye (and if you ever get to see the documents you will know why!). Yes, there are lots of bad things in the documents that the government wants to keep a secret, but the bad things are what our government and military has done to these men. This is not about national security, this is about national shame.
(read the rest at or click on the link above.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Reading Harry Potter in Guantánamo

Check out Candace's latest article in In These Times:
The prisoners at Guantánamo Bay—or Azkaban, as one of my clients, a Harry Potter fan, calls it—have had no access to a hearing in a court of law. Instead, Guantánamo’s inmates are subjected to two kangaroo procedures: Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) and Administrative Review Boards (ARBs)... READ MORE.

More recent editorials:

The Philadelphia Inquirer:
"Justice is Painfully Slow"

The Nation (Kenya):
"Africa: Guantanamo is an Affront to Freedom And Justice"

Khaleej Times (UAE):
"The Guantanamo offence"

Miami Herald:
"Secrecy, coercion, torture: This is legal?"

ACLU Responds to Hunger Strike Revelations:

"This is a prime example of why Guantanamo Bay must close. These people are being held without charge in horrific conditions that violate the traditional American value of due process. The Defense Department admits that only several dozen of the nearly 400 prisoners being detained there will ever face charges"... READ MORE.

Jim Webb Calls for Closing Guantánamo

Associated Press via Fox:

Virginia Senator Jim Webb has called on the Bush administration to close down the Guantánamo Bay detention facilities.

Said Webb, "We can't just continue to hold people in limbo without charges for this period of time and still call ourselves Americans"... READ MORE.

The Globe Gets it Right

Today's editorial in the Boston Globe:

AS PRESIDENT Bush purports to export democracy to Iraq and other nations, he continues to deny it at home. He gained the support this week of six Supreme Court justices, who refused to hear the appeals of 45 detainees at the Guantanamo prison in Cuba. Each of the 45 has been held prisoner for more than five years without a criminal charge, and without legal protections that have been treasured by Americans as fundamental for 215 years ... READ MORE.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Press Release from the Law Council of Australia

3 April 2007

Heaven Help Those Left in Guantanamo Bay

David Hicks’ guilty plea and sentencing deal have done nothing to legitimise the process to which he was subjected, the Law Council said today.

Law Council President Tim Bugg said, “David Hicks’ detention for nearly five and a half years without access to rights we regard as essential for all suspected criminals, whether petty or monstrous, had nothing to do with justice and everything to do with politics.”

“From the very beginning Mr Hicks was a pawn in a political game played ruthlessly for advantage in both the US and Australia. The Howard Government’s complicity in his detention in a legal black hole beyond the reach of anything resembling an impartial or independent judicial system marks a low point in Australian political life.”

Mr Bugg said the Australian Government’s early determination to demonise Mr Hicks saw him initially imprisoned without access to a lawyer or charges for the first two years of his detention.

“Two adverse US Supreme Court decisions and numerous other forced changes to the military commission process didn’t shake the Government’s confidence in the process. Only when opinion polls made it clear that Australians thought he was getting unjust treatment did any imperative emerge to fix the issue,” Mr Bugg said.

“The US Government’s determination to save face, avoid accountability and secure impunity for its officials is matched for self-interest only by the Australian Government’s enthusiastic acceptance of the plea deal.”

The plea deal itself says that the five years and four months Mr Hicks spent in detention count for nothing. “Those who accept this, as the Australian Government obviously does, accept that the US Executive should have judicially unsupervised powers to detain indefinitely without charge anyone, arrested anywhere. They blindly accept this power is necessitated by a rhetorical war, with no defined battlefield and no obvious end or beginning, in which the enemy is whoever the US Executive says it is,” Mr Bugg said.

“Mr Hicks’ nightmare is nearly over because it became politically imperative for it to end. Heaven help those in Guantanamo Bay without someone to stand up for their rights. The US and Australian governments clearly won’t be coming to their aid,” Mr Bugg concluded.

Media Contact: Elenore Eriksson

Al-Rawi Speaks has posted this piece (originally from the BBC) on recently released Bisher al-Rawi.

The article quotes al-Rawi who is heartbroken over those left behind in the U.S. prison camp:

As happy as I am to be home though, leaving my best friend Jamil al-Banna behind in Guantanamo Bay makes my freedom bittersweet ... Jamil was arrested with me in the Gambia on exactly the same unfounded allegations, yet he is still a prisoner ... I also feel great sorrow for the other nine British residents who remain prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. The extreme isolation they are going through is one of the most profoundly difficult things to endure. I know that all too well.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Justice delayed…

Outrageous and Sad – these are the best words to describe today’s news from the Supreme Court. In February, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Military Commissions Act (MCA), passed and signed in the fall of 2006, effectively stripped Guantánamo’s inmates of any right to habeas corpus, a basic protection in our thousand-year-old Anglo-Saxon legal tradition. Detainees filed with the Supreme Court asking the Court to rule on the constitutionality of that law, and to rule expeditiously. Today the Supreme court said…. NOT YET.

The legal battles over the Bush administration’s detention policies in the “war on terror” illustrate the extent to which decades of right-wing judicial appointments by Republican presidents have compromised our courts and our freedoms. We knew with the appointments of Roberts and Alito to the Supreme Court that all of these battles would be uphill fights. Our only swing vote in the Supreme Court is the very conservative Judge Kennedy. As I read today’s opinion I can only determine that Justice Stevens is trying hard to take Kennedy under his wing. It is clear Kennedy is not ready yet to slam down the unconstitutional MCA yet and the best we can apparently do is keep him from voting with the ultra right (wrong) Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito., The joint statement from Justices Stevens and Kennedy leave the door open to future review once detainees have exhausted their (unconstitutional) remedies and/or if the government causes any "unreasonable" delay of those remedies, or causes "some other and ongoing injury.” Of course, when it comes to treatment of “enemy combatants,” “unreasonable delays” and ongoing injuries abound. Moreover, the only other recourse allowed under the DTA/MCA is for a challenge of their enemy combatant designation in the D.C. Circuit (need I mention that is the court that keeps finding whatever Bush does to be just fine…)

I am now burdened by the sad task of writing to my clients in Guantánamo and letting them know that America’s legal system, once a model throughout the world, has failed them again.

- H. Candace Gorman

Bisher al-Rawi Back with Family

After being held for four and a half years in GTMO, Bisher al-Rawi has finally been released and is back in the UK. The U.S. has dropped all allegations against him.

Al-Rawi's family is expecting a so sorry Hallmark card from President Bush any day now.

- Adrian Bleifuss Prados

New on Huffington Post:

Over the weekend we learned that David Hicks would be sentenced to not twenty years, not seven years BUT NINE MONTHS in the slammer. Candace digested this news on Huffington Post.

Here are some highlights:

First we were told that under the plea deal Hicks would probably get less than the 20 years he was eligible for. Can't accuse them of lying about that one can we? I mean nine months is less than 20 years. The fact that it was shocking that Hicks could be eligible for a 20 year sentence, when the crime that he pled guilty to was not even a crime until six months ago, was not mentioned by those congratulating themselves on the plea.

The following day our benevolent military announced that Hicks would probably be sentenced to less than seven years and that most of the sentence could be carried out in his home country of Australia. Ah yes, less than seven years: nine months is that. Finally, on Friday night, the military finally got around to releasing the actual deal that was made just in time for the Saturday paper that no one reads (except those of us who want to know what the Bushies are trying to bury). Now we know that Hicks' pled guilty in return for a nine month sentence and that the deal was made that very first day, when the plea was announced.

So what did Hicks admit to? Most of his "admission" actually has nothing to do with what he did, but has everything to do with what he promises not to do: Hicks promises not to sue the US; not to talk about the torture he received; not to talk to the press for one year (coincidently not until after the Australian elections) and, he promises that he will never suggest that he pled guilty just to get the hell out of Guantánamo.

More on David Hicks

Writing for the The Justinian, "Australia’s most revered and disturbing law journal," Roger Fitch offers his take on the recent "confession" and other developments in the David Hicks story.

The article is password protected, but here are some juicy bits:

Under a plea agreement, David Hicks will be repatriated to Australia to serve out what remains of a nine-month term (after most of the seven year “sentence” has been reduced by pre-agreement).

Nevertheless, he will be confined in an Australian prison for committing an “offence” for which the Australian government could never have jailed him and which many predict the US Supreme Court will strike down.
On Australian Prime Minister and foe of Barack Obama, John Howard:

Even before the ink had dried on the original draft of David Hicks’ “Offer for a Pre-trial Agreement”, John Howard was looking like a loser in the affair. As Amnesty’s observer, lawyer Jumana Musa noted, the stage-managed “trial” only proved one thing: that the new military commissions were good at inducing guilty pleas.

True enough, the terms of the agreement conveniently prevent Hicks being freed from jail or speaking out before the Australian election later this year. That may not be enough, however, to stop Howard’s shabby treatment of Hicks over the years becoming an issue in your election.

And what’s the political value of a (coerced) conviction without a trial, for a crime that’s not really a crime? What’s the point of a show trial without the show? Stalin would have managed things better.

Strangely enough, John Howard’s philosophy is the same as Stalin’s: no man, no problem. With an election due, David Hicks had to disappear; the PM must think that a jail in Australia will accomplish that.

- Adrian Bleifuss Prados

NEWSFLASH: Supreme Court Denies Review in Al Odah and Boumediene

SCOTUS has let us down. Justices Breyer, Ginsburg and Souter dissented from the denial.

A synopsis by Eric Freedman:

The Supreme Court on Monday denied review in two new Guantanamo detainee cases. Three Justices dissented, and two others wrote separately about the denial. Had all five of those Justices voted for review, of course, tthe cases would have been granted.

The two who filed a separate "statement," Justices John Paul Stevens and Anthony M. Kennedy, said that the Court had passed up review to avoid deciding constitutional issues before the detainees had used their available remedies under federal law. They warned, however, that if the government later is found to have engaged in "unreasonable" delay of those remedies, or caused "some other and ongoing injury," then "alternative means exist for us to consider our jurisdiction" over the detainees' allegations. They added that the Court's denial of review does not amount to an expression of "any opinion" on the merits of the detainee claims.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, joined by Justices David H. Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissented from the denial. Breyer and Souter also said they would not only grant review, but expedite it.

The Court did not grant review of any new cases.

Also, from the AP wire.

- Adrian Bleifuss Prados