Saturday, December 22, 2007

International Press....

(For the Francophones in the audience clip on the title for the original version)

An American Lawyer's Fight Against Guantanamo Goes Through Switzerland
By Luis Lema Le Temps

Wednesday 19 December 2007

A seriously ill detainee is denied medical care by the Americans. Berne is solicited.
Candace Gorman spent last weekend at Guantanamo. She no longer counts the number of times she's gone to the American detention center, "maybe eight or nine." A Chicago lawyer for twenty-five years, she has, as she says herself, "largely given up her practice" to conduct a battle against her government the last several years. As a volunteer, she receives neither pay nor expense reimbursement of any kind. She wants, she repeats, to "remedy the injustice" to which one of the Guantanamo detainees is victim.
Her client's name is Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi. He was thirty-nine years old when he was captured in Afghanistan in 2001. His crime? Being Libyan in the wrong place at the wrong time. When he was captured, his lawyer reminds us, the Americans were inundating the country with tracts calling for Arab "terrorists and criminals" to be handed over. They promised astronomical bounties, enough to "feed your family and your village for the rest of your life." Married to an Afghan woman, al-Ghizzawi owned a little grocery store in Jalalabad. He was arrested by the Northern Alliance, put in a truck, sold to the Americans, and then transferred to Guantanamo.
Candace Gorman is convinced that the man is entirely innocent. Placed under a regime of exceptional justice, he does not enjoy the usual rights and recourse of defense. However, at the end of 2004, the members of a military tribunal agreed to acknowledge that the Libyan, like 45 other Guantanamo detainees, could not be described as an "enemy combatant." Some weeks later, however, other hearings were organized and those decisions were annulled. The lawyer, who has transcripts of those hearings, is persuaded that the about-face has one rationale only: the military was embarrassed to have so many detainees on its hands whose innocence had been acknowledged. The rules of the game were changed.
The Harshest Unit
Instead of being freed, Al-Ghizzawi was, quite the opposite, transferred to Camp 6, the harshest unit at Guantanamo. When his lawyer visited him for the first time a year ago, she found her client chained to the floor, kept in virtually complete isolation in a steel cell with no windows. She very quickly realized that the man was seriously ill. The camp doctors confirmed that he was infected with chronic Hepatitis B, and perhaps tuberculosis also. They declared that the detainee refused medical care. But they rejected his lawyer's demand for medical management and supervision.
"I knew the military would never allow him to be cared for in the United States. So I tried abroad," Candace Gorman explains. Through a chain of circumstances, she came upon the name of JŸrg Reichen, liver specialist at the Berne hospital. She went to meet him in Switzerland. And the doctor filed a statement with an American district court and then with the Supreme Court. "I tried unsuccessfully to obtain a diagnosis," JŸrg Reichen confirmed over the phone. "And I alerted my 'colleagues' at Guantanamo as to what they should do with a proven case of hepatitis B."
The Swiss doctor has already gathered the funds necessary to care for Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi at the Berne Hospital. A proceeding, he insists on making clear, that "will not cost Swiss taxpayers a penny." The lawyer has addressed the [Swiss] Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. But the FDFA says it is unable to intervene as long as the Bush administration does not present a request for admission to Switzerland to receive medical care. Now, according to the lawyer, "it's clear that the United States will never make an official request. That would amount to admitting its own policy failures."
"A Dead Man" If ...
Yet there's no time to waste. A few days ago, 12 Guantanamo detainees were sent to Pulcharkey prison in Kabul, for which the Americans have just finished building a new wing. The authorities' wager: to bet on the fact that the detainees will escape American jurisdiction there and will not be able to be defended by their lawyers. "It's Guantanamo's Guantanamo," Candace Gorman sums up. And her contacts in Washington have assured her that her client's name is on the list of those who will be sent next to that high security prison which has no medical services. Specialist JŸrg Reichen's opinion allows no appeal: If Al-Ghizzawi is sent to Afghanistan, he's a dead man."


For those of you who weren't strolling by the White House on Thursday at noon, the esteemed former legal director for the Center for Constitutional rights,Bill Goodman, played the part of Santa Claus and attempted to deliver 37,000 copies of the constitution to our Commander in Chief. The results are here:
Indeed, "[e]very chimney was guarded."
Elf appears courtesy of "Billionaires for Bush."--

If you are looking to make a donation to an organization that is fighting every day to uphold the constitution please think about sending a check to the Center for Constitutional rights in NYC.

The Crime of Waterboarding....

(Thank you Charles Gittings for pullling this together... click on the title to go to Charly's blog...)


So there's an Andrew McCarthy article in the NRO that pretty much sums up the talking points of the apologists these daze in the wake of the CIA's admission that it destroyed video and audio tapes of detainees being tortured by water-boarding and other means....

"Regardless of what the revisionist Left is now saying, the only bright-line limit on the treatment of alien enemy combatants held outside the United States in 2002 was the federal law against torture. The United States did not outlaw cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment when it ratified the international anti-torture treaty in 1994 -- it was not until 2005 that such treatment overseas was outlawed, and even then only ambiguously, no matter what Senators John McCain, Patrick Leahy, and others now claim."

Andrew McCarthy, THE CIA INTERROGATION TAPES, NRO (2007.12.21).

Now I'd just like to point out to one and all, especially those of you who are journalists, that what Mr. McCarthy claims not only isn't true, it's obviously untrue to the degree of certainty. To wit...

By my tally, these interrogations and the subsequent destruction of the tapes involved possible violations of the following statues (note that this discussion excludes Title 10 USC Ch. 47, which is the Uniform Code of Military

18 USC § 371 (Conspiracy to commit offense)

18 USC § 1201 (Kidnapping)

18 USC § 1505 (Obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies, and

18 USC § 1509 (Obstruction of court orders)

18 USC § 1512 (Tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant)

18 USC § 1519 (Destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in Federal investigations and bankruptcy)

18 USC §§ 2340-2340B (Torture)

18 USC § 2441 (War crimes)

There really isn't much room for doubt about several of those, and I don't believe there's any serious question water-boarding is in fact torture either.
Anyone who thinks otherwise should read Evan Wallach's authoritative legal study of the subject:

COURTS, 45 Colum. J. Transnat'l L. 468 (2007), draft version available at:

But the kicker here is that it doesn't really matter in regard to the destruction of the tapes, because even if it wasn't torture and didn't also violate one or more of the other statutes I've mentioned, the kicker is 18 USC § 113, which covers assaults within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction as defined by 18 USC § 7. That statute includes a very bright line indeed, simple assault. Personally, I think the only way water-boarding wouldn't "shock the conscience" is if someone didn't have one, but set that

How could water-boarding not be at LEAST simple assault, if not one of the more aggravated forms?

There's no way that water-boarding, sleep deprivation, and forcibly induced stress don't rise to that level, hence the question of "is or isn't it torture?" is irrelevant to the question of "is or isn't it a crime?" It clearly WAS a crime, because it clearly WAS an assault even if it wasn't torture.

And I really wish someone would plaster that simple fact on the front pages of the NY Times, the Washington Post, and every other newspaper in the country RIGHT NOW. These folks aren't just criminals, they are sloppy, wanton criminals.