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.