Thursday, January 31, 2008

Andy Worthington on Al-Ghizzawi

Click on title for full story....

It really doesn’t get any worse than this.
Candace Gorman, lawyer for Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi, a Libyan detainee at Guantánamo, reports that her client has been infected with AIDS. Mr. al-Ghizzawi explained to his lawyer in a letter that he was told about his infection by a doctor at Guantánamo, adding that he believes that the infection took place in 2004, when he was given a blood test, which “resulted in alarm amongst the hospital staff,” although he was not given any explanation for the alarm at the time.
The hospital at Guantánamo, where, Mr. al-Ghizzawi said, “the guards that would bring him to the clinic often sat and read his medical file and … would toss the file around for others to read while he sat there.”
On January 28, Candace Gorman filed an emergency motion with the US Supreme Court, asking for the US military to provide urgent medical treatment to Mr. al-Ghizzawi, and also asking for access to her client’s medical records. Yesterday morning, however, Chief Justice John Roberts denied the motion.
While this news is so alarming that it almost defies description, Mr. al-Ghizzawi’s plight is compounded by the fact that he already suffers from tuberculosis, which he also contracted in Guantánamo, and hepatitis B, which was dormant before his arrival at the prison.
In an affidavit filed with the US District Court in September 2006, Dr. Ronald Sollock, the Chief Medical Doctor at Guantánamo, confirmed that Mr. al-Ghizzawi “was subjected to complete medical tests by the military upon his arrival in Guantánamo in 2002,” and that he “entered [the prison] in good health,” although he admitted that “a history of hepatitis B was identified in tests performed in August 2002” (even though Mr. al-Ghizzawi was never informed of this fact), and that he “was exposed to tuberculosis while at the base.”Dr. Sollock also claimed that Mr. al-Ghizzawi “does not want to be treated for his life threatening illness[es],” although this is strenuously denied by Mr. al-Ghizzawi himself, who insists that he has never been informed about his health problems, and has never been offered any kind of medical treatment whatsoever.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

No Medical Treatment For Al-Ghizzawi

(click on the title for the AP story)

In light of the news that Al-Ghizzawi is also suffering from AIDS and still not being treated I filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court monday afternoon...
asking that the Court order the military to treat him.
The application was turned over to Chief Justice Roberts as the original case hails from DC.
A few hours ago Justice Roberts denied the application.

So there you have it:

We kidnapped him in exchange for a bounty,
took him from his wife and daughter,
tortured him,
infected him with TB and HIV,
aggravated a preexisting exposure to Hepatitis B (that had shown no signs prior to his incarceration in our legal black hole)
and we have hidden him away in solitary confinement with no medical treatment.

The American courts don't care,
the American politicians don't care,
the American people don't care...

and the rest of the world looks on askance...
but doesn't want to step into the fray...

So what do I tell Al-Ghizzawi when I see him next month.... that is ...if he is still alive?

Friday, January 25, 2008

From Roger Fitch and Our Friends Down Under

(click on the title to go to the original)

Roger Fitch Esq • January 22, 2008

Our Man in Washington

In my most recent post I described the lawsuit brought by Jose Padilla against John Yoo, the former Department of Justice official who was the author of the Bush administration’s interrogation and torture policy.

The case is generating plenty of comment, including this from Slate’s legal observer, Emily Bazelon.

The best analysis of the Yoo case was John Steele’s on the Legal Ethics Blog.

Elaine Cassel has also written about the lawsuit at FindLaw’s Writ.

The Murdoch Wall Street Journal cried out, “Terrorist Tort Travesty”, and provided an analysis by Mr Yoo himself.

As Yoo had claimed earlier, it was all a case of “lawfare”, i.e. evildoers using the rule of law to wage war against innocents, such as himself.

Yet even the court circular, The Washington Post, now thinks Padilla’s torture should be investigated.

As I noted in my post of September 4, Padilla has a case pending in South Carolina against Department of Defence personnel. Why not sue the person who advised and counselled their conduct?

Balkin Blog’s legal ethicist, David Luban, saw similarities between the behaviour of John Yoo and other Bush “lawyers”, and similar underlings employed by Herr Hitler.

More on that can be gleaned from the trial transcripts of the Nuremberg “Justice Case” prosecutions.

The indictment lists defendants whose jobs sometimes closely resemble those of the prosecutors, administrators, “legal counsellors” and the like at the White House, the Pentagon and Justice.

The Nuremberg list also includes judges of “special courts”, which may be of interest to those presiding in the Guantanamo military commissions. And perhaps other judges.

In his memoirs, John Yoo has bragged that he advised the Bush administration on the confinement and treatment of Padilla at the navy brig in South Carolina where the “enemy combatant” was held for three-and-a-half years.

What if Yoo (pic) should decide to mount the defence that he was only acting within the scope of his government employment, even if he in fact prescribed “torture”?

Such a defence is now possible. That’s the import of a new DC Court of Appeals decision in Rasul v Myers.

This is another prison mistreatment case, brought by four of the original Guantanamo prisoners, including Shafiq Rasul and Asif Iqbal, the co-petitioners in David Hicks’ 2002 habeas case.

Among the propositions endorsed by the (all-Republican) panel are that (1) mistreatment is within the scope of employment for military personnel who are detaining enemy prisoners; so (2) torture is foreseeable.

The court, believe it or not, cited the Restatement of Agency. Scotus Blog has a report on this chilling decision.

The case is being viewed as one of the worst appeal decisions affecting detainees, ranking with Hamdan I and Padilla II.

Harper’s blogger Scott Horton comments here. McClatchy Newspapers have more.

Another part of the Rasul decision concerned the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which ostensibly protects prisoners in the exercise of their religion. The district court had allowed this to proceed, but the government appealed and once again claimed Guantanamo is a place where detainees have no rights.

In an amazing contortion, the DC Court of Appeals went even further and ruled that:

“Because the plaintiffs are aliens and were located outside sovereign United States territory at the time their alleged RFRA claim arose, they do not fall with[in] the definition of ‘person’.”

It was of no moment that the Constitution doesn’t equate “persons” with “citizens”, and that the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that Guantanamo is part of the US for purposes of detainee litigation.

That was too much even for one judge on the panel, Janice Rogers Brown (pic). Though concurring in the result, she quoted Webster’s dictionary as authority that:

“A ‘person’ is ‘an individual human being … as distinguished from an animal or a thing’.”

Judge Brown then lamented that the decision left the DC Circuit as “the only court to declare those held at Guantanamo are not ‘person[s]’ ... a most regrettable holding in a case where plaintiffs have alleged high-level U.S. government officials treated them as less than human”.

* * *

Last week it was revealed that the Canadian foreign ministry agreed with the DC Circuit on the foreseeability of the torture of detainees at Guantanamo by Americans. Even the New York Times noticed this development.

As was to be expected, however, Canada was soon “persuaded” to remove the names of Israel and the US from its list of states that torture.

* * *

On the same day as its decision in the Rasul torture case (January 11, the sixth anniversary of the Gitmo detentions), a different panel of the Court of Appeals, led by the same judge, Karen LeCraft Henderson, gave the White House a big victory in an FOI claim.

In this case, the NIMJ (National Institute of Military Justice) had sought, “records containing the opinions and recommendations of non-governmental lawyers whose advice the United States Department of Defense (DoD) solicited to promulgate regulations establishing terrorist trial commissions”.

The Court of Appeals upheld a summary judgment in DoD’s favour on the dodgy grounds that private individuals (even unpaid) who give their opinions to the government are somehow producing “intra-agency” correspondence that is exempt from disclosure.

Judge David Tatel, a Clinton appointee, wrote a blistering dissent.

In another ACLU FOI case being run in the NY District Court, Judge Alvin Hellerstein was told by the government that the CIA had “no duty” to preserve the evidence it had been ordered to preserve.

The judge was not buying it, according to reports. The National Law Journal has more.

The FOI case was run by the ACLU’s Amrit Singh (pic), whose new book, Administration of Torture I wrote about in my post of November 8.

It seems Ms Singh is winning appreciative audiences for her Bush-bashing in India, where her father, Manmohan Singh, is the Prime Minister.

As some of us expected, it is now being reported that the torture taping never really stopped.

Perhaps that’s why the government can’t admit that the tapes, if they do exist, are subject to preservation.

* * *

The government has been busy stitching up Jose Padilla and other people, often those involved in running charities, for a connection (no matter how remote) to speculative conspiracies to commit acts of terror.

The government then seeks judicial “enhancements” to the sentences which have the effect of giving punishments exceeding those sought before the jury.

I reported on this practice last year (see my post of July 30).

While the defendant gets a stiffer sentence from the judge than he was given by the jury, the “enhancement” only requires a “preponderance of evidence”.

Often, it seems, the enhancement factor is not proved but only alleged, and this suffices for judicial fact-finding.

In the end Judge Marcia Cooke departed from the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and sentenced Padilla to 17 years in prison, partly because of his ordeal in the military brig.

The judge did say that the government never proved he attended a terrorist training school and it is undisputed that no one was injured by his actions.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


After I received the distressing news from Mr. Al-Ghizzawi that a doctor at the base has informed him that he has AIDs I sent an email to the government attorney who has been (mis)handling Mr. Al-Ghizzawi's case. I asked him if he could confirm for me whether or not Mr. Al-Ghizzawi has AIDs. Here is his response:

"We are not privy to the particulars of what your client may have been told by his doctor, if anything, but Guantanamo provides high-quality medical care to all detainees."

And so there you have it.... this criminal government will not deny the doctors diagnosis... (which in and of itself is telling) instead they provide an unresponsive answer...of course if it is true that Al-Ghizzawi has AIDs it means that he acquired the disease while at the base because the military claimed it did a complete physical when Al-Ghizzawi arrived and the ONLY condition he suffered from at that time was Hepatitis I guess there is good reason why they don't want to confirm the diagnosis.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


And here I thought Canada accepted our torture policies... click on the title for more...

Well that didn't take long... seems Canada does accept our torture policies... they took us off the list.... seems it was embarassing to certain close allies... wonder who that would be??
Check out the reversal...

Friday, January 18, 2008

Check out and it's Progressive Programs about Guantanamo has progressive programs about Guantanamo and other important issues... Click on the link to get to the site and while you are there look at the program on Supreme Court argument in Boumediene:

American Society of International Law
Washington, D.C.
Dec 12th, 2007

Boumediene v. Bush: Rights of Detainees in the View of the Supreme Court A panel discussion with Paul Wolfson, Jonathan Cohn, and Neal Katyal

Boumediene v. Bush, a set of consolidated cases argued before the US Supreme Court on December 5, raised the question of whether detainees at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay may challenge their detention through habeas corpus petitions. At this program, scheduled for one week after oral arguments before the Court, counsel for the parties and their amici will debate the issues raised in the case and comment on the questions raised by the Justices at the oral argument. The discussion will cover the effect of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which purports to strip the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear habeas petitions from the detainees, and whether the detainees are entitled to a hearing on the merits Click on the title to watch.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Today I received a letter from Mr. Al-Ghizzawi in which he informs me that he has recently seen a doctor and the doctor informed him that he has AIDs. It will take some time for me to confirm this information as the government is reluctant to give out any information to the prisoners or their attorneys but you can bet I will be doing everything I can to find out the truth. In August 2006 the government admitted that Al-Ghizzawi had Hep. B and TB but said nothing about HIV or Aids but Al-Ghizzawi has long suspected that he was infected with the disease during a routine blood test.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Check out the's photo essay: Inside Guantánamo

Click on the title to see a well written and photographed photo essay depicting some of the reasons why we need to shut down Guantánamo. Text by Andrew Sullivan, Photos by Louie Palu.

Also be sure to click on the slideshow to see what it is like inside:

6 years of shame

Jan 11th marked the six year anniversary of the first detainees in the "war on terror" being brought to Guantánamo. Amnesty International has pictures from protests around the world.

To join Amnesty International's global initiative to end illegal US detentions and a major online action under Amnesty International’s campaign to Counter Terror With Justice click on the title or go to


(I don't think all the bells and whistles are working but click on the title to get to the original...)

Roger Fitch Esq • January 8, 2008
Our Man in Washington
The New Year brought the usual lists surveying the previous year’s events and people.
This time they were heavily weighted towards crime and criminals.

For instance, The Talking Points Memo blog tallied Bush officials who have been
sacked, disgraced, jailed, or seem headed for time behind bars.

CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) listed the year’s top-10

One enterprising blogger provided a handy 82-page list of accumulated Bush crimes
through to the end of 2007.

And on New Year’s Eve, The New York Times acknowledged that “men in some of the
most trusted posts in the nation plotted to cover-up the torture of prisoners by
Central Intelligence Agency interrogators by destroying videotapes of their sickening

The Grey Lady continued:

“It was impossible to see the founding principles of the greatest democracy [sic]
in the contempt these men and their bosses showed for the Constitution, the rule
of law and human decency.”

The Times let fly, referring to to “inhumanity … lawless behaviour … barbaric acts
… shocking abuses … a trampled constitution [and] the kangaroo court in Guantanamo”.

It was a blistering editorial, yet the torture of detainees would have been exposed
years ago if papers such as the Times and The Washington Post had not insisted on
sugar-coating Bush administration misbehaviour.

After all, who gave us the words, “harsh interrogation” and “tough tactics”? Who
accepted and justified their use on “recalcitrant” and “stubborn” prisoners?

It was the Post that genteelly said, “controversial interrogation techniques … include
some that cause extreme discomfort”.

At the very least, the alarm bells should have begun ringing when the so-called
torture memos were disclosed in 2004. Instead, one of the authors, Alberto Gonzales,
was confirmed as Attorney General in 2005.

After Gonzales left the White House, Bush’s lawyers openly discussed destroying
the incriminating tapes, although there were some legal dissidents.

In any event the tapes are said to have been destroyed and, as the scandal unfolds,
Georgetown law prof Jonathan Turley (pic) has prepared a helpful list of “six identifiable
crimes” that are available against Bush and his officials.

Without the torture memos, of course, there might never have been any torture to

One plaintiff has made the connection, and is bringing suit against the very man
whose tortured logic many believe led to tortured people.

Jose Padilla, the US citizen falsely imprisoned for three-and-a-half years in a
navy brig, has sued the presumed architect of torture, the former Department of
Justice “lawyer” John Yoo, now a tenured law professor at Berkeley.

The lawsuit seeks to hold Yoo accountable for Padilla’s alleged torture during his
spell as an “enemy combatant”.

According to Padilla’s lawyers, Yoo (pic) was personally involved. Jurist has more
to say about this.

Even as the dust settles on the CIA’s alleged destruction of the torture tapes,
that agency finds itself facing the additional charge of obstructing the 9/11 Commission,
which specifically sought such information and was told it didn’t exist.

The bipartisan leadership of the commission attacked the CIA actions in a New York
Times op-ed.

Finally, Attorney General Michael Mukasey felt compelled to take action, and ordered
an FBI investigation of the CIA’s destruction of the “torture tapes”.

Dahlia Lithwick reports on the AG’s choice for prosecutor, Assistant US Attorney
John Durham (pic) of Connecticut.

The investigation should be interesting, as the FBI has always disapproved of the
CIA’s brutal interrogation methods. The Times suggested it could even be payback
time for the often-ignored and overruled FBI.

* * *

Another area of interest in the torture controversy concerns the CIA’s “black sites”
overseas, said to have been located in such places as Thailand, Poland, Romania
and the British possession of Diego Garcia.

No doubt the talk of black sites by John Kiriakou (see my last post) is one reason
the CIA wants to investigate the former CIA agent. Mother Jones has more about this.

The danger to the Bush administration of further black site disclosures is the subject
of a piece by John Dean in FindLaw’s Writ. It all hangs on the ACLU’s FOI suit against
the CIA pending in US District Court in New York.

We also now know more about these CIA black sites, thanks to Muhamed Bashmilah,
one of the plaintiffs in another ACLU lawsuit – the one against the Jeppesen Travel
division of Boeing. Jeppesen arranged “flight services” for the CIA’s (shudder)
extraordinary renditions.

Bashmilah’s detailed descriptions of his treatment at black sites is the basis for
a report put out by NYU’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice.

That’s the one run by an eminent Australian, the law professor Philip Alston (pic).

Middle East Times correspondent William Fisher has more on the NYU report and on
black sites generally.

* * *

There is yet another useful list that has been produced for 2008. It’s a status
report on “GTMO and related” cases in Washington and elsewhere by David Remes, a
leading member of the Guantanamo Bar Association.

Speaking of Guantanamo, the list of disaffected and departed Gitmo military officers
is still growing.

First there was the incident in 2005 when three prosecutors from the Air Force Judge
Advocates quit. Leigh Sales from your ABC had details of the third resignation.

They were later joined by the prosecutor Lt. Col. Stuart Couch and the defence counsel
Lt. Col. Colby Vokey (pic).

Officers involved in holding the CSRTs, including Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham, have
been filing affidavits for detainees in their court cases, attesting to the unfairness
of the CSRTs.

Even the Chief Prosecutor, Moe Davis has quit in protest and like Col. Couch (see
my post of December 7, 2007), Col. Davis has been prevented from testifying to Congress
by Pentagon General Counsel William Haynes.

Davis strongly attacked the Pentagon’s political interference in the commissions,
in an LA Times op-ed.

Col. Morris Davis will not be going quietly. As he says:

“I’m not the first person associated with Guantanamo to be bound and gagged before
having cold water poured on him, although in my case it is intended to induce me
not to talk.”

Maybe Moe’s not kidding.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Catch 22 in the 21st Century

When I visited my client Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi at Guantánamo on Sept. 25 and 26, he brought with him two letters that he had been working on since summer. The letters, written in Arabic, were six pages and one page in length. The six-page letter described the torture he had endured since bounty hunters picked him up in Afghanistan in late 2001. The one-page letter contained instructions upon his death. Al-Ghizzawi wanted to spend our meeting going over the letters so that if they got “lost” in the mail, the information would be recorded in my notes. ....

To read the rest of this article click on the title....

Friday, January 4, 2008

Reply in the Supreme Court (UPDATED)

The Supreme Court ordered the solicitor general to respond to Al-Ghizzawi's Original Habeas Petition on December 26th. Not wanting to spoil their own holidays they filed early on the 20th (after first asking me if I would consent to a 30 day extension!). If you click on the title you can see the Reply I filed on Monday the 31st. This has been cleared for public filing.
The docket sheet shows that the Petition was distributed on January 3rd for the conference on January 18th.... let's keep our collective fingers crossed...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


The Military is claiming that none of the prisoners are in immediate danger of death..... what else can I say except to call them what they are... liars.
click on the title to read about some of the other very ill prisoners being held at Guantanamo. ...