Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Pile of Garbage

Mr. Al-Ghizzawi is languishing in Guantanamo because of a pile of garbage.

Last week, Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham testified before the House Armed Services committee that the evidence presented to Al-Ghizzawi's CSRT panel (on which Lt. Col. Abraham himself sat) was "garbage."

Candace elaborates in her newest Huffington Post piece, Garbage, Guantánamo-Style. Check it out.

Andy Worthington on Abraham, Al-Ghizzawi

Andy Worthington has a piece in Huffington Post, (also picked up by Yahoo News) on the whistle blowing of of Lt. Col. Abraham.

Regarding our friend, Al-Ghizzawi, Worthington writes:
The detainee in question is Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi, a Libyan who was 39 years old when he was captured in Afghanistan towards the end of 2001. Al-Ghizzawi had been living in Afghanistan since the Russians left the country in 1989, and had settled comfortably in his new home. Married to an Afghan woman, he had a six-month-old daughter, and ran a shop that sold bread and honey. When the US-led invasion began, he took his wife and daughter to his wife's parents' home in the country, to escape the bombing raids, but was abducted by some locals, who were seduced by American offers of free money for life, publicized through leaflets dropped from planes which stated, "You can receive millions of dollars for helping the anti-Taliban force catch al-Qaeda and Taliban murderers. This is enough money to take care of your family, your village, your tribe for the rest of your life - pay for livestock and doctors and school books and housing for all your people." Sold to the Northern Alliance, he was, in turn, sold to the US military, and made his way to Guantánamo via US-run prisons in Afghanistan, where the orders handed down to the interrogators by the military decision-makers based in Camp Doha, Kuwait, were that every Arab should be sent to Guantánamo.

The story of what subsequently happened to Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi adds unprecedented weight to Stephen Abraham's concerns, particularly about the administration's obsession with confirming detainees' "enemy combatant" status at all costs. Reiterating complaints made in his affidavit, Abraham told Glaberson, "Anything that resulted in a 'not enemy combatant' [verdict] would just send ripples through the entire process. The interpretation [was], 'You got the wrong result. Do it again.'" Once the interfering intelligence officer - and, presumably, his obdurate colleagues - had been sacked, the administration convened a second tribunal for al-Ghizzawi, which duly found that he was an "enemy combatant" after all. Over two years later, he remains in Guantánamo, suffering from hepatitis 'B' and, possibly, liver cancer, and reportedly the victim of malingering on the part of the medical staff, because he refuses to admit that he was a terrorist and not a shopkeeper.

Monday, July 30, 2007


I don't usually post rumors on my blog... but this one has the earmarks of being true. Rumor has it that a plane took off from Guantanamo a few hours ago with an unknown number of the Algerian detainees heading back to Algeria. My second client is Algerian Razak Ali. I hope he is on that plane.

Get Me Out of Gitmo!

One of the government's favorite excuses for the ongoing injustice at Guantánamo Bay is that the detainees themselves resist transfer to foreign countries. In the July issue of In These Times, Candace takes this nonesense head on and points out that the vast majority of GTMO inmates are chomping on the bit to leave. The fact that certain detainees have (quite legitimate) fears of further abuse and detention in other states does not mask the fact that the U.S. is arbitrarily (and unlawfully) depriving hundreds of men of their liberty.

Friday, July 27, 2007



Read the entire transcript here:


Read it all... but here is an excerpt from Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham regarding Mr. Al Ghizzawi's CSRT. Abraham sat on the original panel that found Mr. Al-Ghizzawi to NOT BE AN ENEMY COMBATANT:

"But where it specifically came to bear was when I sat on a CSRT and I looked at the very same kind of evidence, so to speak, that I had seen for months. And not only I, but the other members of the panel said, this is garbage.
And as a matter of fact, when we looked at direct statements that came from interrogators, where they said, our conclusion as to the facts is that this individual was involved in activities. And we said, 1) that's not even a rational conclusion that you could reach, but 2) we have no reason for presuming the validity of that. We were told, you have to accept that as true. The presumption is, it is true, it is valid.
And when we asked questions, we were told more time should be allowed for them to get the answers. And the answers didn't come -- and we concluded that the individual was not an enemy-combatant -- we were told, keep the hearings open so that they can come back. We were told, reconsider when there's other evidence. "

Poor Mr. Al-Ghizzawi. Six years in hell and dying. ..But thank you Col. Abraham and the rest of Panel 23 for doing the right thing in his initial CSRT... and thank you Col. Abraham for stepping forward and telling the world that the evidence against Mr. Al-Ghizzawi was garbage.

Supreme Court here we come....

On the heels of the Abraham declaration confirming that there was no evidence to declare Mr. Al-Ghizzawi an enemy combatant.... and coupled with the complete inaction of the district court and the circuit court... I filed an original habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court yesterday. What does this mean? Only time will tell... but my hope is that the supreme court will be convinced that it must provide much needed guidance to the lower courts and break the legal limbo that has kept these cases from moving forward. I hope they do something before Mr. Al-Ghizzawi dies.

See more on SCOTusblog

A new "do-over" detainee case reaches Court
12:12 PM Lyle Denniston Comments (0)

A detainee at the center of a sharp new controversy over Pentagon decisions seeking to justify holding Guatnanamo Bay prisoners has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, asking for an "original" habeas writ. The case involves Abdul Hamid Al-Ghizzawi, whom the military is holding on the basis of an accusation that he was a member of Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a group that has had its assets frozen by U.S. authorities for terrorist acts against the Libyan government.. (The petition for the writ has not yet been cleared by security officials for public access, and does not yet have an assigned docket number. For now, a motion for leave to file under seal has been docketed as 07M5. When a public version becomes available, it will be posted on this blog.)

A new "do-over" detainee case reaches Court

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

More on David Hicks

"Deplorable," "charade," "shambolic" - these are the words used by Mr. Lex Lasry QC to describe the brand of justice served at Guantánamo Bay. Lasry was the Law Council of Australia's observer at the David Hicks proceedings. A summary of Lasry's report is available HERE.

Here is a selection from the conclusion:

The “trial” of David Hicks, which took place in March 2007, was a charade.

A pre-trial agreement had been signed and the balance of the legal proceedings was entirely surplus to requirements, although designed to lay a veneer of due process over a political and pragmatic bargain. The veneer cracked immediately.Ultimately, there has been no benefit from this process; only a corrosion of the rule of law.

No ground can be claimed to have been made in the so-called War on Terror. The Military Commission process at Guantanamo likewise has neither gained from it, nor shown any prospect of improvement. Predictably, there has been no response from the Australian Government to the consistent and widespread criticism of the Military Commissions and Guantanamo Bay generally. Their support for this process has been shameful.

They have never put an argument to the Australian public as to why the Military Commission process is “full and fair”. Now that the Hicks case is over, no doubt the hope is that the issue will disappear – and, regrettably, perhaps it will.

However, Australia’s international standing and moral authority has been diminished by its support of a process so obviously at odds with the rule of law. Those with a concern for the protection of due process should be very concerned about the future of this process, particularly given its jurisdiction to impose death penalties.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Cleared for Release

We have often pointed out that scores of Guantánamo prisoners have been cleared for release by the government's own procedures and yet they languish in Bush's Cuban dungeon. However, the list of recently released Saudis (posted below) proves that being "cleared for release" doesn't really matter since many of the individuals were never "cleared" (we don't know about the other 8 as the government only posted the status of detainees with attorneys).

Guantánamo abounds in meaningless bureaucratic formalities which are supposed to mask the total absence of the rule of law. However, at the end of the day, the vast majority of Gitmo's inmates will have been captured arbitrarily, detained for an arbitrary length of time and quietly released at an arbitrary date.

1. Fahd Nasser Muhammad Sultan Al-Qahtani – ISN 13; Camp V; Paul Weiss; NOT cleared
2. Saud Dakhilallah Muslih Al-Juhani – possibly ISN 53; no counsel
3. Muhammad Naji Subhi Al-Mahyawi Al-Juhani – ISN 62; Al-Halmandy petitioner
4. Yahya Samil Suwaimil Al-Alyani Al-Sulami – ISN 66; no counsel
5. Bjad Dhaifallah Huwaimil Al-Otaibi – ISN 122; Camp VI; Schiff Hardin; NOT cleared
6. Mazin Saleh Musa`id Al-Awfi – ISN 154; no counsel
7. Abdulrahman Owaidha Muhammad Al-Ju`aid – ISN 179; no counsel
8. Bandar Ahmad Mubarak Al-Jabri – ISN 182; Jenner & Block; NOT cleared
9. Sa`d Ibrahim Ramzi Al-Zahrani – ISN 204; no counsel
10. Muhammad Abdulrahman Ayed Al-Qurashi – ISN 214; no counsel
11. Hmood Dakhilallah Al-Jad`ani – ISN 230; no counsel
12. Khalid Muhammad Ali Al-Zahrani – ISN 234; no counsel
13. Jum`ah Muhammad Abdullatif Al-Dosari – ISN 261; Mental Health Unit; Dorsey & Whitney; NOT cleared
14. Bandar Ayedh Hmood Al-Otaibi – ISN 332; Camp V; Richards Kibbe & Orbe and Spears & Imes; NOT cleared
15. Abdullah Husain Sa`d Al-Zahrani – ISN ?
16. Gahnim Abdulrahman Ghanim Al-Harbi – ISN 516; Camp IV; Reed Smith; NOT cleared

Stephen Abraham in the NYT

Today's New York Times has a piece on Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham, the courageous whistle-blower whose affidavit exposed the combatant status review tribunal process as a total farce. The article ends with Abraham's experience as a CSRT panel member - the story may sound familiar to our readers ...

One of the tribunals the lawyers have learned more about since then was the one on which Colonel Abraham sat. Documents they have gathered show that Abraham was assigned to the panel in November 2004. The detainee was a Libyan, captured in Afghanistan, who was said to have visited terrorist training camps and belonged to a Libyan terrorist organization.

By a vote of 3 to 0, the panel found that “the detainee is not properly classified as an enemy combatant and is not associated with Al Qaeda or Taliban.”

Two months later, (after Pentagon officials first attempted to pressure Abraham's panel into changing their result...HCG), the pentagon established a second panel to review the decision anew. The second conclusion, again by a vote of 3 to 0, was quite different: “The detainee is properly classified as an enemy combatant and is a member of or associated with Al Qaeda.”

I will also add that the second panel had no new evidence to support its finding against Mr. Al-Ghizzawi. ...

Yes! The panel Abraham sat on was our client Mr. Al-Ghizzawi's first CSRT panel which found him not to not be an enemy combatant. It was the second, farcical do-over tribunal that classified Al-Ghizzawi an "EC." Seems that the second panel that was used for Mr. Al-Ghizzawi was also used several other times to "do over" earlier panel decisions that did not reach the results that the pentagon demanded.

You probably will not be surprised at this but Lt. Col. Abraham was never assigned to sit on another panel.

Guantánamo's "Library"

Some of you may remember that Guantánamo's library expansion was a major part of the Defense Department's PR campaign last fall. One of GTMO's inmates, Abdulaziz, (surname withheld by request) has described this marvelous library in some detail:

The Itinerant Box Library

I was meeting with my attorney in Guantanamo Bay.

After conversing about some legal questions related to my case, we turned to the issue of the Delta Camp library in Guantanamo, and about the false propaganda being spread by the camp administration about that library.

Some people think that the Gitmo camp library is a big hall with large drawers, well-organized shelves, shiny marble floors, state-of-the-art electronic catalog system for a rich library in which the detainees browse morning and evening, choosing the best of the available books in all fields and sundry sciences, in many different languages – just like that magnificent library I used to walk through five years ago when I was a student at Imam Muhammad ibn Su`ood University in Riyadh, conducting my scholastic research work at the time.

The truth, as all will attest, is that the Gitmo camp library is nothing more than two small gray boxes with which guards walk around in some cell blocks, carrying them above their heads to protect themselves from the burning sun, or, at best, dragging them on a dolly with two little wheels.

Inside the two boxes, there are no more than a combination of old, worn-out books, with their covers and some of their leaves torn by rain and other adverse factors that surround these two boxes.

Furthermore, they are the same books that have been passed by the detainees for years.

Arabic-speaking detainees are given access to a collection of boring works of fantasy fiction in addition to books filled with atheism and possibly attacks on Islam and some of its precepts.

After continuous, arduous efforts by detainees and their counsel, one religious book was finally allowed in Camp 4 for each 40 detainees.

Afghani detainees, on the other hand, are provided with several literary works in Pashto and Farsi. These books have not changed since the itinerant box library was formed some years ago.

If we look at the books that are available in the other common camp languages, we will not fail to see a book or two in each language – worn out and covered with cobweb.

The opposite– and shining – side of this itinerant box is the majority of reading material available in English, which is not spoken or read by the overwhelming majority of inmates.

You will surely find books about American history and the founding fathers. The detainees can do no more than turn these books this way and that and enjoy their shiny covers, not knowing what the books are about or gaining any knowledge of their contents. In addition, you will find worn-out copies and old issues of National Geographic.

A few weeks ago, I picked up a copy of that magazine from the ruins of books in that dilapidated box and was astonished that the issue I picked up was dated 1973 – over 30 years ago. I asked the itinerant box carrier (the librarian, as the administration likes to call him) if I could have a more recent issue, dated 2000 or above. Evidently tired of carrying these boxes and walking around with them, he replied very calmly, “You have five more minutes to choose the books you want. This is all we have.”

I thanked him for performing this arduous task and making this strenuous effort, placed that magazine on top of the stack of books in the box, and told him as nicely as I could, “please take my number off the check-out list. As of today, I will have no need for your plentiful library.”

He smiled broadly, looked at his wrist watch, carried his box on his head, and retreated to where he came from.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Juma Al Dossary Among the Saudis transferred

Tales of Juma Al Dossary's numerous suicide attempts were among the most heart-wrenching stories coming out of Guantanamo. Things have gotten a bit better for Juma since he was transferred to Saudi Arabia along with 15 other Saudi nationals last week (Juma has dual citizenship with Bahrain). Juma has been allowed to meet with his family and they report that his health and spirits have improved.

He is currently (and hopefully briefly) behind held in Saudi custody. Funny to think that a week ago he was the "worst of the worst."

"Reunion of Joy for Juma" - Gulf Daily News

Thursday, July 12, 2007


I just returned today from Gitmo. I will do a longer post in the next few days but many people have been emailing and asking me about Mr. Al-Ghizzawi and I feel compelled to alert you to what is happening to him. I do not have good news on that front. In fact everything about this latest trip was dismal. Mr. Al-Ghizzawi was extremely weak and had a very difficult time communicating. He was confused, disoriented and depressed. We had planned on spending the first of our two days of meetings discussing legal issues and going over documents that we were readying for court.... but that was not to be as Mr. Al-Ghizzawi was not allowed to bring his documents (with all of his notes and questions) to our meeting. Our choice was to start from scratch or wait until the following day...given his medical condition I opted for waiting to review the legal documents the following day in the hopes that he would be allowed to bring the legal materials for that visit. Unfortunately the second day of meetings did not take place as Mr. Al-Ghizzawi, for the first time since I have been coming to the base, was too weak to attend the second day of meetings. Mr. Al-Ghizzawi sent me a heart wrenching note apologizing for not being able to meet with me; he explained to me not only the physical reasons why such a meeting was not possible but also the mistreatment he had received on the day of our meeting and the effects he was suffering from that ill treatment. I will share all of this with you soon but first I must prepare papers to file with the court seeking (perhaps in vein) the court's intervention in what will otherwise result in the death of Mr. Al-Ghizzawi.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Crowley Growls

"Movie night" at Guantánamo is the latest product of the Bush propaganda machine. The government has announced screenings will be arranged for the best behaved Guantánamo inmates…..how positively humanitarian!

The idea that people deprived of their freedom for more than five years (men and boys who have literally starved themselves and endured force-feeding to protest their imprisonment) can be placated with a little light entertainment is contemptible.

It seems clear that the purpose of this latest campaign is not to win over Guantánamo’s critics (who would be persuaded by such feeble nonsense?) but to inflame the far-right wingnuts and stir-up Gitmo frenzy amongst the Limbaugh fringe.

Monica Crowley (an Ann Coulter wannabe and a reliable conduit of government misinformation) is duly outraged,

Yes, your tax money is now paying for some of the detainees to chill out to a flick …. some of the world’s most hardened jihadists are getting dinner and a movie. In the Caribbean. With wooing like this, Abu Zabaydah might propose soon.

Crowley casts her darts widely and wildly:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, longtime adviser Karen Hughes, former First Lady Barbara Bush, and the current First Lady have all reportedly advised the president to close Gitmo because it’s “hurting U.S. credibility and image abroad.” And it looks like this gang and their argument is holding sway.
If anything, Crowley's list of "terror-appeasers" only proves how isolated GTMO's supporters have become. As we know, scores of these "hardened jihadists" have been cleared for release by the government's own procedures. These men don't need to "chill out to a flick" they need their human rights respected, their right to petition for a writ of habeas corpus restored, and the unlawful prison camp that houses them closed for good

Cageprisoners Speaks Out

Last week, the good folks at Cageprisoners sent an open letter to Gordon Brown, the U.K.'s new Prime Minister. Tony Blair's complicity in the Bush administration's crimes destroyed his moral and political standing in British public opinion. Mr. Brown should now do the right thing, both by standing up for British residents in Guantánamo as well using whatever influence he has with the American government to help close the prison camp and end the injustice of indefinite detention for all of Guantánamo's inmates.

The Right Honourable Gordon Brown PM

10 Downing Street

Dear Prime Minister

We, the undersigned, relatives of British residents detained in Guantanamo Bay detention facility, former Guantanamo prisoners, lawyers for the prisoners, and concerned individuals, call upon you to use all means at your disposal to obtain the return to this country of all British residents illegally detained at Guantanamo Bay. All have made homes in this country; some, like Omar Deghayes after fleeing possible torture and death in Libya. They have now been detained for five years or more without charge or trial, in a prison where UN officials have documented torture and abuse. We are very concerned about their physical and mental wellbeing.

Today Americans celebrate their Independence Day, rightly highlighting the concepts of equality, liberty and rights enshrined in their Constitution. Today, the Detention Facility at Guantanamo Bay sadly celebrates its 2000th day. The Guantanamo Bay prisoners are denied those cherished rights: the ‘unalienable rights’ to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’, the rights to a speedy trial, humane treatment and due process contained in the US Bill of Rights. Instead, 375 people are still subjected to arbitrary and indefinite imprisonment, denied the rights that mark civilised society and the rule of law. This is having a devastating effect on the physical and mental health of the detainees. At least four detainees have died within the last 13 months. We are marking this day with the launch of an exhibition and public meeting on Guantanamo at the House of Commons and welcome you to attend.

Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell recently said he would have Guantanamo closed 'this afternoon' rather than tomorrow. We call for you, likewise, to add your voice to the calls for its closure.

No-one has been released from Guantanamo as a result of a legal process. The British government’s refusal to act on behalf of the British residents leaves them in a legal black hole. We ask that the British Government accept its moral responsibility for these men and negotiate for them to be reunited with their families here or in a safe place of their choosing.

We urge you to make this a priority in the first days of your premiership. To ignore such abuses will set back any ‘war on terrorism’. Please do everything you can to bring back the British residents before their health and lives are irretrievably damaged.

CLICK HERE to read the letter with its full list of signatories

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Defending Abraham

Robyn Blumner in the Salt Lake Tribune:

Soldier's act of valor was not performed on the battlefield Heroism comes in many forms. To be sure, courage is demonstrated through feats of great physical risk on and off the battlefield. But to me, the greatest heroes of the modern era are those who stand for integrity and character when under intense pressure to do otherwise.

Bob Dylan said a hero is ''someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.'' Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham is a hero in this sense. He likely changed the course of history for the better, and he did it armed with a simple statement of truth. READ FULL ARTICLE

Abraham's "Innuendo"

The DoJ is smearing Lt. Col. Abraham, whose affidavit exposes the combatant status review tribunals for the sham that they are.

From the AP:

The Justice Department responded in federal court documents Friday, saying Abraham's affidavit ``reflects a fundamental misunderstanding'' of the Combatant Status Review Tribunals. Government attorneys said Abraham did not back up his ``innuendo'' that the process was slanted.

Abraham said he was not allowed to review information from other agencies, but the Justice Department said that's not part of the process. The tribunal is set up to review the best relevant information provided by intelligence agencies after broad searches, not to conduct its own hunt through reams of documents, the government said.

Monday, July 9, 2007

OSCE Calls on U.S. to Close GTMO

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a major diplomatic institution since its founding in the Cold War era, has called on the U.S. government to close Guantánamo. Given the challenges facing the United States in the 21st century, can our leaders afford to alienate the international community any longer?

The latest installment of "Our Man in Washington"

Roger Fitch Esq • July 5, 2007

Our Man in Washington (From Justinian)

It was the Supreme Court’s last orders list, on the last day of the 2006 term. After giving big business everything it wanted this term, Justice Anthony Kennedy had decided to come on board the Guantanamo detention cases. The brief order gave the detainees even more than they sought.

It takes five votes to grant a motion for a rehearing, so when Kennedy joined the four “liberals” on the Supreme Court to grant certiorari in Boumediene/Al Odah, it was an omen of a coming victory of some sort for the Guantanamo detainees. They’d previously had their hopes dashed by the April order of the court refusing certiorari.

Lawyers for the Guantanamo detainees had just filed a new motion in the District Court in Washington, seeking to forestall dismissal of the pending habeas petitions. Their notice summarises the current detainee cases in the federal courts. Now, with the grant of certiorari, all the pending cases should be safe until the October term, when the Supreme Court will take up the Boumediene/Al Odah appeal.

In April, Justices Kennedy and John Stevens left the door open in their opinion for a further cert petition if circumstances changed. Now it seems change has occurred, and many are suggesting it was the Abraham affidavit attached to the petition for rehearing in the Supreme Court.

An insider in the Combatant Status Review Tribunal process, Lt Col Stephen Abraham, filed a statement with the Supreme Court attesting to the institutional irregularity and inherent unfairness of the CSRTs conducted in Guantanamo.

The Abraham affidavit is included in the latest Supreme Court filing in the Al Odah appeal.

There are many things wrong with CSRTs, as we always knew. They were only set up to evade the 2004 Rasul decision, relying on a dictum of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in the companion Hamdi case that some other tribunal might be able to provide the rights the Supreme Court was directing the Government to provide to detainees in DC District Court in the form of habeas. Scott Horton has described the whole “enemy combatant fraud” perfectly in Harper’s Magazine.

District Court Judge James Robertson largely ignored the CSRTs, while Joyce Hens Green of the District Court and DC Appeals Judge Judith Rogers openly scorned them. The Congress never explicitly authorised CSRTs, and the real regulations they displaced (eg: those implementing the Geneva Conventions’ Article 5 requirement of PoW hearings) are still on the Pentagon books, awaiting enforcement.

The CSRTs have been further discredited in the recent decisions of military commission judges in Guantanamo, especially the careful opinion of Judge Colonel Peter Brownback in denying reconsideration of the Khadr case.

Another blow to the new Military Commissions Act, and thus to the CSRTs, is the 4th Circuit’s decision in the al-Marri case. It seems that the president of the United States, can’t, after all, unilaterally declare anyone in the US without a US passport to be an “enemy combatant”, and throw him in a US Navy brig. And a CSRT isn’t going to help. A good rundown of the al-Marri case may be found at the National Security Advisors blog.

* * *

An alternative ground for the Supreme Court’s decision to grant certiorari may have been the mala fides of the government, specifically the unseemly rush to forcefully deport Gitmo detainees to possible torture. Human rights organisations have been crying foul at the US government’s refoulement (the internationally forbidden practice of rendering to torture) of Gitmo sufferers to such bastions of human rights as Libya and Tunisia.

Some extralegal deportations have already occurred, without any advance notice to the lawyers, at times in violation of court orders, and always without the consent of the deportee. Where possible, they are carried out against detainees who have never seen lawyers.

Along with Tunisians, Libyans seem the preferred targets of the government’s zeal to send released detainees to possible torture or death.

Those of us who thought the sadistic mistreatment of detainees was likely rooted in George Bush’s west Texan childhood – never afterwards effaced by any amount of Andover, Harvard or Yale – have now learned that the real author of the torture policy may be the vice president.

The Washington Post has a new series on Cheney that sheds considerable light. According to the series, Cheney’s legal counsel David Addington actually wrote the offending “torture memo” signed by John Yoo:

“The vice president’s lawyer advocated what was considered the memo’s most radical claim: that the president may authorise any interrogation method, even if it crosses the line of torture. US and treaty laws forbidding any person to ‘commit torture’, that passage stated, ‘do not apply’ to the commander-in-chief, because Congress “may no more regulate the president’s ability to detain and interrogate enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements on the battlefield.”

Also interesting was this revelation of where Cheney draws the line:

“That same day, Aug. 1, 2002, Yoo signed off on a second secret opinion, the contents of which have never been made public. According to a source with direct knowledge, that opinion approved as lawful a long list of specific interrogation techniques proposed by the CIA including waterboarding, a form of near-drowning that the US government classified as a war crime in 1947. The opinion drew the line against one request: threatening to bury a prisoner alive.

* * *

Just lately, several of the Bush regime’s more conspicuous miscarriages of justice have been back in the news. As noted, the al-Marri experiment has been defeated in the DC Court of Appeals. In Miami, the Padilla case is going badly, with the FBI’s own witness exculpating Padilla. Even the case of John Walker Lindh is being reappraised.

And yet another stateside “enemy combatant” is back in court. The American Abu Ali, who was persuaded by Saudi police to confess a desire to kill George Bush, has been serving a 30-year sentence. His appeal is being considered by the 4th Court of Appeals, where it was argued by David Hicks’ civilian lawyer, Josh Dratel.

Ominously for the government, the Munaf case seems headed for the Supreme Court.

Even the help of DC Appeals Court Judge David Sentelle couldn’t save Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the vice president’s chief of staff and all-purpose flunkey, from fronting jail for perjury and other offences.

As mentioned in my article of June 4, it would not have been the first time Judge Sentelle had a shot at ameliorating Republican convictions; in fact he is an old hand at this sort of thing. But when he declined to keep Scooter out of jail pending his appeals, George Bush did what Sentelle couldn’t – he commuted Libby’s sentence.

Libby was an official in the office of the vice president, but his old boss has rather surprisingly decided that OVP is not part of the executive branch, and therefore does not have to comply with executive orders, even George Bush’s. The Vice is now claiming that he is not even part of the US government! That absurd claim brought many comments including this, from Dan Froomkin of The Washington Post.

Finally, Antonin Scalia has shown his (bloody) colours on the torture issue. At one of their Bar Association functions, Canadian lawyers were astonished to hear Scalia, the US Supreme Court justice with perhaps the greatest intellectual pretensions, commending the efficacy of torture, and doing it based on (shudder) a popular TV program, the torture-every-week-for-patriotic-purposes 24. Human Rights First was shocked.

Maybe it’s time Cheney and Scalia went duck-hunting again. No torture would be necessary. Anything could happen, and the world would be a safer place.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Judge Brownback holds his ground:

Prosecutors have had no luck in reinstating the charges against Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who was detained as a teenager in Afghanistan. The charges were dismissed in early June when an upstanding military military judge ruled that the military commissions have no jurisdiction over "enemy combatants" because the insidious Military Commissions Act, (which established the commissions system) applies to only "unlawful alien enemy combatants."

"Guantanamo judge rejects charges for Canadian" Reuters (via Ottawa Citizen)

Monday, July 2, 2007

A Guantánamo Digest:

  • Jesus Christ joins "the worst of the worst" in a hit play - Somerville Journal
  • Mitt Romney, torture advocate and presidential candidate, also tortures animals - Wonkette
  • Shaker Aamer's nine-year-old daughter begs for her father's release from GTMO - The Independent
  • Bush/Putin Kennebunkport sleepover party besieged by demonstrators - Fosters Online
  • In this era of torture and secret prisons, the "Family Jewels" are no big deal - Baltimore Chronicle