Saturday, May 31, 2008

This Weeks Hero's

And another heartless judge...
I personally would like to thank each of these men and women for refusing to just sit back and watch....
I hope our next president will pardon each of them and give them medals for their courageous and important actions in trying to bring the plight of the Guantanamo detainees to the attention of the sleeping masses here in the United States... Click on the title for the video (sorry that wapo makes you watch a commercial first).
And when you are finished watching that inspiring video go to their website and thank them for standing up while so many are sitting through the collapse of our government ....

Anti-Guantanamo protesters convicted for illegal Supreme Court demonstration
Deirdre Jurand at 12:27 PM ET

Photo source or description
[JURIST] A Washington DC Superior Court found 34 members of anti-war activism group Witness Against Torture [advocacy website] guilty Thursday on misdemeanor charges of illegal protesting. Police arrested 71 group members at a protest [JURIST report] in front of the US Supreme Court in January, where they were demonstrating for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison [JURIST news archive]. They were indicted on charges of violating an ordinance barring demonstrations on court grounds. Officials charged 35 protesters, and the Superior Court judge dismissed charges against one for lack of evidence. The defendants, who represented themselves, argued that they were exercising their right to free speech [advocacy press release], but the judge found that they had continued to violate the ordinance despite police warnings. They were scheduled to be sentenced Friday. The Washington Post has more.

At their court appearance [JURIST report], protesters wore orange jumpsuits similar to the ones worn by Guantanamo detainees and some identified themselves using the names of detainees as a way to "symbolically grant the Guantanamo prisoners their day in court" [advocacy press release]. During the trial, one defendant turned his back to the judge and, when arrested for contempt of court, yelled that the judge had committed a crime against justice. The January 11 protest took place on the sixth anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo Bay teror detention facility in Cuba.

More on the sacked judge at Guatanamo Military Commission (UPDATED)

Click on the title for the update.... seems the military is desperately looking for judges, this particular judge offered to stay on after his term ends at the end of June but the military said "no thanks" and pulled him out early...

Pentagon dismisses judge in Khadr military commission trial

Andrew Gilmore at 10:11 AM ET

Photo source or description
[JURIST] The US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] on Thursday dismissed the military judge presiding over the military commission trial of Canadian Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr [DOD materials; JURIST news archive]. No explanation was given for the dismissal of Col. Peter Brownback [JURIST news archive], but Khadr's defense lawyers speculated that it was was related to Brownback's threat earlier this month to suspend the military commission proceedings [JURIST report] against Khadr until the US government submits daily records of Khadr's detention. Khadr's military lawyers had requested the records to corroborate allegations of abusive treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. In November 2007, Reuters reported that at a pre-trial hearing in the Khadr case, Brownback said that the Pentagon was unhappy with his decisions in the case, and that he had "taken a lot of heat" [Reuters report] for dismissing charges against Khadr [JURIST report] in June 2007. Those charges were later reinstated [JURIST report]. AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

Khadr, 21, faces life imprisonment for crimes allegedly committed at the age of 15 while fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan. He was charged [charge sheet, PDF; JURIST report] in April 2007 with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism, as well as spying. In April, Brownback ruled [PDF text] that Khadr was not a child soldier when he was captured in Afghanistan. Khadr's lawyers had asked for the case to be dismissed [JURIST report] saying that it violated the Optional Protocol of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child [text], which gives special protection to children under 18 involved in armed conflicts.

Now here is a surprise!

Former Guantanamo prosecutor says DOD punished him for Hamdan testimony
Deirdre Jurand at 10:19 AM ET

Photo source or description
[JURIST] The former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay alleges that the US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] retaliated against him for giving testimony [JURIST report] at the pre-trial hearing of detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan [DOD materials; JURIST news archive] which reflected poorly on the DOD. In an email released Wednesday, Air Force Col. Morris Davis [official profile, PDF] wrote that Pentagon officials denied him a medal for his two years of work on Guantanamo cases for failure to "serve honorably", a justification he says is politically motivated. He also said that he will not cooperate in any future cases and that he fears further punishment by the DOD before his official retirement later this year. The Washington Post has more.

Davis resigned [JURIST report; JURIST op-ed] from his position at Guantanamo Bay in October 2007, saying that politics were interfering with the prosecutions. He testified at Hamdan's pre-trial hearing that DOD officials had pressured him to bring charges against detainees and had told him that there could be no acquittals. Davis also stated that the legal adviser to the Convening Authority [official backgrounder] for Military Commissions at Guantanamo Bay, US Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann [official profile], questioned the need for open trials [JURIST report] and pressured him to move forward with military commissions quickly "before the election." A judge disqualified Hartmann from a Guantanamo trial earlier this month, and Hartmann's objectivity has since been questioned [JURIST reports].

Friday, May 30, 2008

Sacking the Judge that isn't following the script

For those of you old enough to remember one of President Nixon's finest hours (and just before impeachment was threatened) ...when he fired the special prosecutor investigating the Nixon on the title to see how Bush relieved himself of the military commission judge who was just a tad too independent.... last night as you were sleeping...
This was the judge who was hearing the case for the Canadian kid at Gitmo... If you scrowl down just a bit on my blog you will see that the Canadian Supreme Court (earlier this week) ordered that certain documents be turned over to attorneys for this child soldier... I guess you could say the plot is thickening before our eyes... makes you wonder what Bush will do to distract American's from this latest travesty....

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

In Pursuit of Justice

Human Rights First put this white paper together with the help of pro bono attorneys in regards to the issues involved in pursuing justice in our federal courts... for prisoners being illegally detained. This is an important piece for atttorney's who are representing or thinking about representing these prisoners... and if you are an attorney in the US and not thinking about representing one of these people you should start thinking about it right now....

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A kinder, Gentler Torture

While staying at his in-law’s village in Afghanistan in December 2001, Abdul Hamid Al-Ghizzawi, my client at Guantánamo, knew little of Bush and Cheney.
Later, when vigilante thugs turned him over to the Northern Alliance for an American bounty, Al-Ghizzawi knew nothing of Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales, Jay Bybee, John Yoo or Matthew Waxman — the man who would become Al-Ghizzawi’s personal war criminal and who is now a professor at Columbia Law School....
(Click on the title to go to In These Times and read the whole article)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

So What about the other 99% ??

Guantanamo with 270 prisoners remaining is just the tip of the iceberg. Click on the title to read the blog by Chris Floyd regarding the 27,000 prisoners being held by the US- primarily in Iraq... but also on ships and in various countries willing to share the dirty work with us. As Gitmo lawyer Clive Stafford Smith points out the other 99% of the prisoners are being held without access to lawyers and the media is clearly not interested in investigating this story.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Canadian Supreme Court says Canadian Government's Gitmo actions Illegal

Thanks to Captain Canada for sharing this story (click on title) and to Roger Fitch for the actual link to the Canadian Supreme Court's decision.

Even though the link goes beyond the page it should work...

From Roger Fitch and our friends down under

Roger Fitch Esq • May 17, 2008

Our Man in Washington

Guantánamo trials in crisis – legal adviser sacked for wanting torture evidence to be admitted and prosecutors quit in disgust over government meddling. Law of terror correspondent Roger Fitch reports

imageIt looks likely that Salim Hamdan, the notorious bin Laden driver, will be the first to go on trial – if anyone does – before a Guantánamo military commission.

It was, of course, Hamdan’s earlier military commission that the Supreme Court struck down as an unconstitutional fantasy of George W. Bush.

Hamdan is charged with “conspiracy” and “material support for terrorism” for acts predating the war, and neither charge is an offence under the law of war.

In fact, in Hamdan’s own case, a plurality of the US Supreme Court confirmed that “conspiracy” is not a war crime. The “crimes” were in any case created in 2006, long after they were said to have occurred.

click on the title to read the rest....

New illegal charges against gtimo prisoner Muhammed

That to Roger Fitch for bringing this to our attention:

In the most farcical "charges" yet sworn, the Pentagon yesterday charged Noor Uthman Muhammed with conspiracy (not a war crime) to murder (not a war crime) and sundry other acts (not war crimes) between August 1996 and March 2002.

Now, remember, the Supreme Court in the Hamdan case said nothing that didn't happen in a real theatre of war (eg Afghanistan) during a real war (ie, after September 11, 2001) could be a war crime, and the plurality specifically said that conspiracy is not a war crime.

Conspiracy with whom? Why, with Osama and Zawahari, apparently because he delivered a fax machine to them (in 1999).

What were the acts constituting the "crime" that occurred after September 11, 2001? Why here 'tis:

"On March 28, 2002, Muhammed, along with several other al Qaeda members, attempted to escape from a safehouse in Faisalabad, PAKISTAN, after a raid by local authorities, but was captured during his attempt." (emphases mine)

Got that? He was arrested in Pakistan (not a theatre of war), for acts occurring before, not during, a war, and the element of the "crime" which connects him to the period of war and thus to Al Qaida is that he was arrested, that's right, the act of attempting to escape being arrested!!!

Can anyone doubt that this goes beyond Lewis Carroll, Franz Kafka and George Orwell, to new, uncharted territories?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

So what is going on at the Solicitor General's office?

Last week we learned that Paul Clement, the solicitor general, unexpectedly announced his resignation effective June 2nd (which he no doubt hopes will be before the supreme court announces its decision in the Gitmo cases)... now we have learned that the deputy solicitor general Thomas Hungar actually announced his resignation first but that announcement was not released until today.... all we know about Hungar's departure is that it will be "soon."
Is it just me or do others think there is more to this than just wanting to spend time with their families?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

No torture, No exceptions

“No Torture. No Exceptions” means:

  • Reaffirming America’s commitment to existing federal laws and international treaties that ban torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under all circumstances.

  • Renouncing all legal interpretations and executive orders that redefine torture and permit such acts as sensory or sleep deprivation, stress positions, sexual humiliation, mock executions.

  • Enforcing full transparency of information about how America treats any and all detainees held by our personnel and those in our employ anywhere in the world.

  • Rejecting and abolishing the practice of rendering detainees abroad.

  • Establishing a single standard of interrogation procedures to apply to all persons held in U.S. custody or by those under U.S. control, whether C.I.A., military, or civilian.

  • Treating our detainees as we would have others treat detained Americans.

So... hats off to Scott Horton for bringing this to my attention (and now yours) and click on the title and do your part to try to put an end to this ugly chapter in US history.

Released Detainee testifies to Congressional Committee via satellite link

Turkish born German Citizen, Murat Kurnaz told his story of five years of abuse and torture at the hands of the US at Guantanamo to a congressional committee today. He has also told his story in a book that I have heard is well worth the read (I bought it but haven't had the time to read it yet) . Click on the title to read the AP story.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Looking alive but actually dead"

That is what one prisoner said about his long term isolation.... For Mr. Al-Ghizzawi this isolation has helped fuel his physical and mental decline. Two new reports out from the center for constitutional rights in a report to congress outline the effects of the long term solitary confinement on the prisoners at guantanamo (including Mr. Al-Ghizzawi) and the outrageous practice of our government in allowing interrogators from foreign countries into Guantanamo to threaten and coerce the prisoners.
Links are below thanks to Charles Gittings at the Project to enforce the Geneva Conventions ( who posted the articles so that I could link to them..

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Hamdan trial delayed

The DC circuit court of appeals just couldn't bring themselves to stop the government from going ahead with the military commission trail of Mr. Hamdan despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court will be ruling before the end of June on whether or not the military commissions are constitutional...
Fortunately the military saw the folly in going forward at this juncture and late in the day on Friday (after the DC Circuit Court refused to act) an order was entered to delay the trial to avoid "the potential embarrassment, waste of resources and prejudice to the accused that would result were the Bush administration to lose the Supreme Court case." How clever of the military to think of that.
Click on the title to read the story from the Miami Herald.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A NEW LOW (Updated)

Yesterday I (and other gitmo counsel) learned that the security clearance for one of our regular arabic translators was revoked without prior notice to counsel. The military is not accusing the translator of any wrong doing ...they apparently just randomly pulled his security clearance in the middle of a visit to the base that had been scheduled for months. Particularly disturbing to me on a personal level is that the attorney who was visiting the base with this translator was performing a favor for me in that he agreed to visit with Mr. Al-Ghizzawi. As many of you know I try to visit with Mr. Al-Ghizzawi every other month to monitor his health but for personal reasons I cannot go back to the base until July. The translator is one of the 3 or 4 that regularly go to guantanamo to translate for gitmo counsel... he, like the other translators is a top notch interpretor who has always displayed the highest level of professionalism and integrity. This is clearly just the governments latest ploy to interfere with our relationships with our clients.

Update: The court decided it doesn't have jurisdiction over this... screwing the attorneys once again.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New Documents Released to ACLU

Click on the title to go directly to the latest documents released to the ACLU in one of the FOIA actions they filed.
According to the ACLU press release " Uncensored documents released ... shed light on the deaths of detainees in Iraq and internal disagreement within the military over harsh interrogation practices used at Guantánamo Bay....

The documents contains new information about the deaths of some of these prisoners, including details about Farhad Mohamed, who had contusions under his eyes and the bottom of his chin, a swollen nose, cuts and large bumps on his forehead when he died in Mosul in 2004. The document also includes details about Naem Sadoon Hatab, a 52-year-old Iraqi man who was strangled to death at the Whitehorse detainment facility in Nasiriyah in June 2003; the shooting death of Hemdan El Gashame in Nasiriyah in March 2003; and the death of Manadel Jamadi during an interrogation after his head was beaten with a stove at Abu Ghraib in November 2003.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


All allegations against Mohammed al Qahtani (063) in the April 15, 2008 re-sworn charge sheet were dismissed without prejudice on Friday May 9, 2008. For those of you who don't know or recall Mr. Qahtan his interrogation memos were leaked last year showing the torture to which he was subjected. Although it is possible that the thugs might charge him again at some future date, with non capitol charges, Al Qahtani is at the moment uncharged and will not face the death penalty if there are ever any future charges. We will not ever know if Mr. Qahtani was a so called "terrorist" because of the criminal policies of the US government in subjecting him to torture.
The other interesting development is that on the heels of this dismissal the government buried the dismissal with the announcement (again) of charges against five defendants who all seem to be charged as the 20th hijacker...
a most crowded spot... as I believe Al Qahtani was also suspected as holding that same ticket.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Fridays military decision ousting Hartman for now

Click on the title to read the actual order entered last week by the Military commission.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

And Back to the Kangaroo Court

Well the talking dog put it together better than I could even try, so click on the title and read what the TD has to say about the latest fiasco at the military commissions.... just a hint.. now the chief "legal advisor" has been pulled off the first prosecution because it was determined that his legal advice was just a tad too politically tainted.......sigh...
Supreme Court... If you are out there please rule soon and put them out of their misery.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Return to the battlefield?? Updated

I am updating this story after reading the Washington Post version. It appears the story may be true and if so we are stuck with the uncomfortable fact that a man released from Guantanamo may be responsible for a suicide bombing in Iraq. There are lots of things to ponder in relation to this matter and much of that was discussed in the article that you can read by clicking on the title. The answer of course is not to lock up forever people who showed no signs of being an enemy when picked up. This man apparently went on with his life for several years before he decided to do what he did. I also will remind you that our government lies so much that we cannot believe anything they claim but if this man did in fact become a suicide bomber he would be the only verifiable detainee that was released who has been shown to engage in any illegal activities after being released. I find that pretty amazing given how these men were treated. Anyway, last time the government/military claimed 30+ were on "back" on the battlefield and my law clerk did the research... seemed at the same time they were saying 9+ and 5+ and a handful and 14.... were back on the battlefield (as though these random and contradictory numbers justified keeping everyone else). And when someone finally demanded names (I believe it was congress that asked not the media...) they hemmed and hawed and came up with a few names... a few... like 3 or 4... and 1 of those "back"on the battlefield was still sitting in gitmo (probably in his dreams he was in the battlefiedl but I don't think that counts) 1 or 2 were never on a list as having been at Guantanamo, 1 guy had not only returned to the battlefield but was killed (according to the media reports dictated by the military) but they forgot to tell him and he was quietly rebuilding his life.
I am sure there are those of you who think we should try to ascertain everyone who has harbored ill thoughts about our government and lock them up... but that is not the american way... at least not the america I knew. We have trials. We determine guilt or innocence and then we punish the guilty. Perhaps if a system had been put in place when this man was held the outcome would have been different. Lastly I would just point out that this man was released because of a political deal between the US and Kuwait... the same way every man has been released so far... political deals, not court processes.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Update on Transfers last week...

Thank You Sami for remaining a reporter til the end...--Thank You Kent Spriggs for this nice little chart.... the three men with less information did not have counsel. unfortunately I am having formatting trouble... I will get back to this...

2008 MAY





Jalalabad, AF



Dechert LLP

Peter Ryan







Candace Hom





Oruzgan, AF



Yes, long journey


Matthew Dodge





Oruzgan, AF







Dekundie, AF



May 7, 2008

Lawyers for Guantánamo Inmates Accuse U.S. of Eavesdropping


One lawyer for Guantánamo <> detainees said he replaced his office telephone in Washington because of sounds that convinced him it had been bugged. Another lawyer who represents detainees said he sometimes had other lawyers call his corporate clients to foil any government eavesdroppers.

In interviews and a court filing Tuesday, lawyers for detainees at Guantánamo said they believed government agents had monitored their conversations. The assertions are the most specific to date by Guantánamo lawyers that officials may be violating legal principles that have generally kept government agents from eavesdropping on lawyers.

“I think they are listening to my telephone calls all the time,” said John A. Chandler, a prominent lawyer in Atlanta and Army veteran who represents six Guantánamo detainees.

Several of the lawyers, including partners at large corporate law firms, said the concerns had changed the way they went about their work apart from Guantánamo cases. A lawyer in Chicago, H. Candace Gorman, said in an affidavit that she was no longer accepting new clients of any type because she could not assure them of confidentiality.


Monday, May 5, 2008

Guantantamo our 51st State?

The world slaps us with Guantanamo as though it's a sack of wet nickels. Guantanamo is an albatross, wrapped in a scarlet letter, inside an Alcatraz. What to do with Guantanamo?

The Supreme Court is mulling the question. The president and the secretary of defense say they want to close Guantanamo. All three presidential candidates and five former U.S. secretaries of state want to close Guantanamo.

Fortunately, the answer is obvious. Congress should pass, and the president sign, legislation making Guantanamo the 51st state.

(click on the title to read the rest of this great op-ed... from Gitmo attorney Peter Ryan...)


Today Reuters reported that the bush administrative could close Guantanamo...."The Bush administration could announce plans by the end of its term in January to close Guantanamo prison and an upcoming Supreme Court ruling might be the impetus for this, senior U.S. officials and experts say." (Click on the title if you really want to read it... but I warn you they also quote from Matthew Waxman.... the man responsible for Al-Ghizzawi still being at guantanamo... as though he is some sort of voice of reason....)

LEST WE FORGET.... they said the same thing last time the supreme court was getting ready to rule... I fell for it in 2006 before the Supreme Court released the Hamdan decision... Bush announced "I want to close Guantanamo... I am just waiting for the Supreme court to rule..." I of course knew he didn't have to wait for the supreme court's ruling to close the place but I figured he would use it as an excuse...
He didn't.... he never intended to close the place but many people believed him and still ask me, "Aren't we closing the place? I thought Bush said he was closing the place?"

I will not fall for that crock again... but the big question is, will the media fall for it again??

A prison of shame and it's ours

For those of you who did not see this op-ed in Sunday's NY Times click on the title and read the whole article which also discusses the plight of Al-Ghizzawi.

A Prison of Shame, and It’s Ours

Published: May 4, 2008

My Times colleague Barry Bearak was imprisoned by the brutal regime in Zimbabwe last month. Barry was not beaten, but he was infected with scabies while in a bug-infested jail. He was finally brought before a court after four nights in jail and then released.

Skip to next paragraph
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Nicholas D. Kristof

On the Ground

Share Your Comments About This Column

Nicholas Kristof addresses reader feedback and posts short takes from his travels.

Alas, we don’t treat our own inmates in Guantánamo with even that much respect for law. On Thursday, America released Sami al-Hajj, a cameraman for Al Jazeera who had been held without charges for more than six years. Mr. Hajj has credibly alleged that he was beaten, and that he was punished for a hunger strike by having feeding tubes forcibly inserted in his nose and throat without lubricant, so as to rub tissue raw.

“Conditions in Guantánamo are very, very bad,” Mr. Hajj said in a televised interview from his hospital bed in Sudan, adding, “In Guantánamo, you have animals that are called iguanas ... that are treated with more humanity.”


Roger Fitch Esq • April 25, 2008

Our Man in Washington

A.J. Liebling was right – the press is asleep on the big stories affecting our freedoms … Bush lawyers looking for soft landings in the corporate sector – although Freddo still can’t find a job … Copyright violations by Pentagon in use of rap music to torture detainees

imageAs recently reported, a newly-released “torture memo” of the Justice Department’s former lawyer John Yoo purports to authorise the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques on terrorist suspects”.

Yet there would be no need to use these techniques, if the designated terrorists would only confess their crimes as gracefully as does George W. Bush.

For instance, when Mr Bush chose to admit he had been spying on Americans for years without warrants (under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a felony attracting five years in prison), he did so before millions of Americans on national TV, and never looked back.

When he subsequently disclosed he had violated multiple international treaties by abducting, disappearing and detaining prisoners secretly in foreign prisons, for the purpose of illegal interrogation, Dubya did so at a well-publicised press conference where he announced the men were being rendered to the ultimate dungeon – Guantánamo.

He connected the dots for the media, and nothing happened.

Now, on a major US television network in prime time, Mr Bush has cheerfully acknowledged that he knew and approved of the events reported in my last post: the operation within the White House of what might be called an interrogation strike force.

With cabinet members present, it was a virtual torture subcommittee of the President’s “war cabinet”.

So much was revealed by ABC TV, but Dan Froomkin of The Washington Post put it best:

“Top Bush aides, including Vice President Cheney, micromanaged the torture of terrorist suspects from the White House basement.”


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Detainees released Wednesday-(Not Al-Ghizzawi) updated yet again

Click on the title to see actual footage from Sami's release.

I took a short vacation only to check in and find out that 4 were released to Sudan (including Sami Al Hag the Al-jazeera reporter I have written about) 1 to Morrocco and 8? to Afghanistan. We are still figuring out who the afghani's are (we know of only 1 as of this posting)... I am also figuring out the names of the Afghani's just released from Policharkey (I figure if I spell it different each time I will be right at least once)... anyway the Afghani's just released either 29 or 34 prisoners from the American wing of the prison, most had been at Gitmo and a few were from Bagram... I will release their names as I get them.... meanwhile these are the Gitmo releases from Wednesday:

Haji Rohullah Wakil (ISN 798), sent back to Afghanistan (not cleared, camp 5)

Sami Al Haj, formerly known as ISN 345 – released to Sudan, not cleared for release (camp 1)

Amir Yacoub, formerly known as ISN 720 – released to Sudan not cleared (camp 4)

Walid Ali, formerly known as ISN 081– released to Sudan not cleared

Said Al Boujaadia, ISN 150 – released to Morocco, had been cleared for release for 18 months (camp 6)