Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Word from the base is that a big cargo plane with an unknown number of prisoners is leaving tonight... if there are more than five prisoners on that plane then the number remaining will be under 300. Isn't it a shame that our politicians and our media do not question why these men were held for 5 or 6 years and then sent home in the dead of night without a word of explanation.
So much for these men being the worst of the worst....

It was just announced that 15 men were transfered... 13 to Afghanistan and 2 to Sudan. As we figure out who the men are I will post another update...

Finally some coverage about Guantanamo Myth No. 1

(Click on the title to see my original post on Huffingtonpost about this myth...)

Lawyers Assert that Pentagon Overstates Ex-Detainee Threat
by Josh White Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Seton Hall law professor contends that the Defense Department has overestimated the number of former Guantanamo Bay detainees who became involved in terrorist activities after they were released from the military prison.

Bush administration officials have long said that numerous former Guantanamo detainees have turned up on battlefields or have become involved in unspecified "anti-coalition militant activities." Defense officials put the number at 30 in a news release in July.

The Pentagon cited seven former detainees by name, saying they turned up on battlefields after leaving the prison, and it said there are 23 others who became involved in unspecified terrorist activity but did not name them.

In material they will deliver to a congressional committee today, however, Mark P. Denbreaux and his son, Joshua, who represent Guantanamo detainees, said the data lack specificity and include some former detainees who did nothing more than speak out publicly about their captivity.

They assert that the Pentagon has cited only 15 former Guantanamo detainees who have become involved in terrorist activities after their release.

Defense officials said yesterday that they have evidence about all 30 who, they say, participated in combat or lent support or financing to terrorist organizations.

"It doesn't matter if it's seven, 14, 30, or 50," said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman. "The point we're trying to make is that we assume some risk in this. Even one is too many."

Mark Denbeaux, director of the Seton Hall Law School Center for Policy and Research, plans to present the information to a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing today on the legal rights of Guantanamo detainees. Denbeaux has been critical of Pentagon data regarding the threats the
detainees pose, and his previous reports have drawn fire from defense officials.

"Department of Defense senior officials have publicly claimed that dozens of former Guantanamo detainees were captured or killed during battles with American forces following their release," Denbeaux wrote in a prepared statement for the committee. "This public representation was entirely inaccurate every time it was uttered."

Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, also has disputed the Pentagon's assertions about the number of detainees who have returned to battle. He said it is part of a systematic effort to show that the numbers do not add up.

"Some people probably have gone back to, or begun for the first time, armed activity against the United States after leaving Guantanamo, but that number is clearly very small," Malinowski said.

Today on Caged Prisoners

(I can't express enough my joy at having someone else write about Mr. Al-Ghizzawi, I just happened to find this article when I visited the Caged Prisoners site this morning... click on the title to go to Caged Prisoners.)

The Torture of Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi
By Leonard Fein

In July 1948, President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9980, which was the beginning of the end of racial discrimination in the American armed forces. It was more than six years later that the last all-black unit was dissolved, and it wasn’t until July 1963 that the military’s responsibility was expanded to include the elimination of off-base discrimination of black servicemen.

Here is a thought experiment: Imagine what it would have meant for America today had these steps not been taken, had the military remained segregated. Plainly, and in addition to the continuing insult to black Americans and the reduced effectiveness of the military itself, the nation would be markedly disadvantaged on the world stage.

The time when formal racial discrimination could be indulged in by an international power was plainly over (and then some). And it was just 44 years ago that such discrimination was terminated.

Now flash forward 44 years. Is it thinkable that the United States, if it seeks to remain a great power, can still persist in its violation of international law and common codes of decency, claiming to itself the right to torture people it thinks may have information that would help defend this nation from its enemies?

Well, perhaps you will say that if there’s a ticking bomb and the only way to find where it’s been hidden is to torture your captive, torture may be excused. Surely we do not torture gratuitously, without some urgent (albeit inherently inadequate) purpose?

But: Consider the case of Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi, a Libyan meteorologist who has now been held in Guantanamo for more than five years. Al-Ghizzawi has had hearings before two Combatant Status Review Tribunals.

A November 2004 tribunal unanimously determined that there was no factual basis for concluding that he should be classified as an enemy combatant. Ordered to re-open its hearing, the tribunal came again to the same unanimous conclusion.

Shortly thereafter a second tribunal was formed and held a hearing in Washington, D.C. — without the knowledge of Al-Ghizzawi — and decided to find him to be an enemy combatant, this despite the fact that no new evidence was introduced.

It is impossible to say how many of those being held in Guantanamo are, indeed, enemy combatants. The processes that would tell us that are deeply flawed, deeply and fatally. (See, for example, the testimony of former Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Abraham before the House Armed Services Committee on July 26, 2007.)

But it is possible to know what happens in Guantanamo. We know about Al-Ghizzawi because of a detailed statement of the Committee on Human Rights of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine.

Since Al-Ghizzawi arrived at Guantanamo, his health reportedly has deteriorated dramatically. He evidently suffers from hepatitis B and tuberculosis, but has received no medical treatment for either condition despite his repeated requests and those of his lawyer.

On December 7, 2006, he was among several hundred detainees randomly selected and moved to the newest detention camp at Guantanamo, Camp 6, which was designed to hold the majority of the detainees. According to Amnesty International, and in contravention of international standards, all detainees in Camp 6 are held under conditions of “extreme isolation and sensory deprivation for a minimum of 22 hours a day in individual steel cells with no windows to the outside.”

Their cells reportedly are extremely small. The only source of light is fluorescent lighting that is on 24 hours a day and the only air is air-conditioning, both of which are controlled by the prison guards. The detainees reportedly are allowed two hours of “recreation time” a day to be spent in a metal cage measuring four feet by four feet. (That’s 1/3 the size of a ping-pong table.)

Al-Ghizzawi’s lawyer says that his guards frequently give him his “rec time” in the middle of the night or, sometimes, in the middle of the day when the cage is in the hot sun. Detainees in Camp 6 have no access to radio, television or newspapers. They are given one book a week.

According to his lawyer, Al-Ghizzawi’s eyesight has deteriorated so significantly that he is now unable to read. Thus he now spends his time pacing in his cell. All of the detainees at Guantanamo reportedly are forbidden telephone calls and family visits, and most are not allowed to touch another human being. The detainees are not given any blankets. Their only cover is a plastic sheet.

There is no reason to believe that Al-Ghizzawi’s treatment is exceptional. If his is at all an exceptional case, it is exceptional because he has twice been unanimously declared not to be an enemy combatant.

Canons of crisis, behind us, before us, volley and thunder, deafen our sensibilities. It is hard to focus on one man unjustly tortured — for surely the circumstances of al-Ghizzawi’s detention amount to torture — or even on hundreds perhaps unjustly held, cruelly treated.

And it is hard to know how much damage Guantanamo does to perceptions of America by others, to our blundering effort to “win the hearts and minds” of people worldwide. (The end of segregation in the military, many historians believe, owed less to Truman’s courage than his concern with international opinion, what with the Cold War and the emergence of the Third World.)

The CIA destroyed the tapes of its interrogations; we can only speculate regarding what horrors they contained, what disgust they’d have provoked. But there’s horror aplenty that continues, with our permission, 24/7 — torture of named people in a named place.
SOURCE: The Jewish Daily Forward