Saturday, January 31, 2009

Captive Flower

All those many years ago, in my last semester at the University of Wisconsin, I finally took that science class that I needed to graduate. I opted for Plants and Man. In addition to learning such fine things as how to make wine and beer we learned about the importance of our connection with nature for our psychological wellbeing, something I have never lost sight of. Although the class was fun and interesting, it was a real college class and we had to write a paper at the end of the semester. I decided to write about Flower Power. I did an historic look at the use of the flower as a symbol of peace….sigh.
I ultimately became a lawyer and later still took on the representation of a man at Guantanamo. My client, Mr. Al-Ghizzawi, told me during one of our first visits about a flower that was outside his cage at Guantanamo, just sticking out of the desert terrain, by itself. Al-Ghizzawi watched the flower over several days and I could tell from his voice that it brought him pleasure just to think about that flower. He called it a primrose and ended by saying, “it didn’t belong there, and I don’t belong here.” He was right on both accounts....

Friday, January 30, 2009

From Roger Fitch and our Friends down under.

Roger Fitch Esq • January 21, 2009
Our Man in Washington
Departing Bush Gang leaves a trail of wreckage … Obama’s legal team pronounced “excellent” ... War crimes cases against torturers still a possibility … Once secret “legal” advice being flushed into the open … Roger Fitch, exhausted after a night of Inaugural Balls, reports
“If it does not do justice, what is the government but a great criminal enterprise?” – St Augustine.
After eight years of carefully planned (if crudely executed) crime, the Republicans are just about out of town.
An era of legalised lawbreaking and calculated injustices is (hopefully) ending.
It’s well known that the Gold Standard formed the basis for the US financial system until 1971, when Richard Nixon announced its suspension.
Less well known is a similar decision in 2001 to abandon the Rule of Law, our legal Gold Standard.
Lawyers in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) diligently engineered this change.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


CLICK ON THE TITLE TO READ the article discussing the fate of the remaining Kuwaiti detainees at Guantanamo and whether they will be released now that President Obama has signed an executive order to close the prison.

The detainees’ lawyer, David Cynamon, spoke with the paper and explained, "With Obama's presidency, we see a light at the end of the tunnel. They've been detained without trial for almost eight years; it's about time that these prisoners were released.” Cynamon also noted that he is continuing to pursue fair hearings for the detainees. The Obama administration claims “Their cases will be studied for one year; but we don't want to wait for that time frame, we shall continue our case in the Federal Court."

A sentiment that most of us feel.



John Yoo, the architect of the infamous Torture Memos, will speak at Chapman University - Fri., Jan. 30
at a Law Review Symposium called:

"Lincoln’s Constitutionalism in Time of War: Lessons for the War on Terror?"

Greet him in orange jumpsuits and black hoods to declare that we will not be silent as people continue to be tortured in our name. Contact WCW for more info at ; 213.924.8571.

This symposium will be held from 9-5:00 p.m. at Kennedy Hall, Rm. 237 at

Chapman University School of Law, One University Drive, Orange, CA

Download flyer

The "Torture Professor"* can run, but he has no intention of hiding (he will also be visiting UCBerkeley on March 12... see the FireJohnYoo website calendar for details).

Say NO TO TORTURE - JOHN YOO MUST GO! And not just from UC, where he continues to enjoy tenure. Follow developments on holding this and other War Criminals accountable at .


It was actually more than that but the rest of the costs were my own fault. I was multi tasking and clearly had too many tasks on the plate and screwed up. More on that another time. One of the joys of being a Guantanamo attorney is that the mail your client sends to you is read by the “privilege” team before it makes its way to you. Usually they just read it and fax it on to you and leave the original in your secret drawer. But sometimes they “classify” the letter and you cannot read it without going to the secret office near DC.

Maybe you can imagine my surprise when I received an email this past week stating that Mr. Al-Ghizzawi’s latest letter to me was “classified.” Al-Ghizzawi has been wrongly held prisoner for seven years in total isolation. What in the world could he have to say to me, or anyone, that should be classified? I sent an email back to the privilege team and asked them if they could please give me an indication of the reason for the classification. Shortly thereafter, I received an email back that stated that the letter was classified because Al-Ghizzawi’s letter was “too specific on the detainee's exact location within the detention facility.” I literally did a double take. I mean WTF. Did they think I (or someone) was going to try to bust him out or something? They refused to say anything more and told me I could read it next time I was at the Secret Pace.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Guantanamo files in disarray?

What a surprise... the Washington Post reports that the Bush administration never even compiled files for the men it has been holding at Guantanamo Bay? Why? Because they have no evidence to justify the seven years of detention for the vast majority of these men (hence more than 500 released and most of the rest waiting for the release that is coming..) and the whole operation has been run by morons.
Click on the title for more on this from the talking dog... and while you are out and about check out this piece from Dahlia Lithwick at Slate
and this from CCR's Shayana Kadidal.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Talking Dog meets Testimonials Project

One of my favorite blogs (the talking dog) has interviewed the founder of my favorite Guantanamo research project (The Guantanamo Testimonials Project). Click on the title for the excellent interview.

Every Picture Tells a Story?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

John Bellinger should be tried as a war criminal

John Bellinger is now traveling through Europe and attempting to rewrite history a common practice for those that were in the Bush administration. Bellinger who was the State Department's point person on Guantanamo was (and most likely still is) an arrogant liar. I do not say that lightly. He is on my list of individuals from the Bush administration that should be tried as war criminals. Bellinger's attempts to rewrite history will not succeed as I and others will be following close behind to set the record straight. I wrote a letter to the International Herald Tribune challenging Bellinger's claims regarding the efforts of the Bush administration to find countries in Europe to help settle detainees that could not return to their home country. The Tribune declined to publish my letter so I share it with all of you.
click on the title to read the letter.

The Executive Order.... and what it might mean

Click on the title to read the executive order. I don't believe Obama has signed it yet but there it is.
The most important part of this order is that the President is ordering that the men be treated humanely until such time as a complete review of their situation can be undertaken and it can be figured out whether or not they should be released or moved to the US for trial. I expect this will mean the immediate closing of camp's 5 and 6.
I have reason to hope that Mr. Al-Ghizzawi has been moved out of camp 6 already. Unfortunately his letter to me has been classified and I cannot read it without going to DC. I will explain more about this latest fiasco after I finish fighting my way up the new chain of command.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama halts military trials

Well, we shall see where this goes. 120 days is about 100 days more than he needs on that front. As for the Habeas cases in Federal Court I mentioned the one delay, that delay is for 2 weeks and for a legitimate reason. I have a hearing set for Mr. Razak Ali to finally have a habeas hearing on Jan. 28 and I don't think they need a continuance for that one: all they have to do is review the documents and they can see he never should have been held and should be immediatley released. We shall see.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Audacity of Hope

click on the title.

What Next? (already updated)

I really wanted Obama to say something about Guantanamo in his address to the nation (and the world) today but alas he chose not to. However, I believe Obama has said something about Guantanamo with his appointments and that will have to hold me over for now. Last month I had the honor of meeting with members of Obama's transition team regarding Guantanamo and I have confidence that they are men and women who will try to right the wrongs in the "justice" department... it will take some time to clear out the Bush enablers and I sure hope they start with the attorneys that have enabled Guantanamo. I have my list for them should they ask!
I don't have a Chrystal ball but I expect that Obama will settle the Uighers in the United States and reach out to our friends in Europe and elsewhere to take some of the other men who cannot return to their home countries.
May they please move quickly.
After I wrote this piece I found in my mailbox an agreed order to continue a gitmo habeas hearing set for tomorrow morning...this is good news. The "justice department" attorneys were fighting until the very end for their expansive definition of "enemy combatant." Many of us were afraid that the Bush version of the law would be argued tomorrow... fortunately it will not.
You can read about some of Obama's picks by clicking on the title. All three were at the meeting I attended.... and I wish them the best of luck.

Here's hoping for a change for the better....

With one hour to go I thought I should express some hope for the future of my country.
click on the title.

For Dr. King

Children first?

Rumors are afloat that the young Canadian man that we have been holding and torturing since he was a 15 year old child...Omar Khadr, will be released and now we are hearing that Mohammed El-Gharani from Chad is also scheduled to leave immediately. You can read more about the children at Guantanamo by clicking on the title. Not only was our conduct regarding these young men despicable... we were also holding them at the same time that we signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (on the involvement of children in armed conflicts)on January 23, 2003.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Good Riddance

less than 18 hours....
click on the title

Saturday, January 17, 2009

6 more leave Guantanamo- and Binyam may soon follow (last Iraqi accounted for..)

Bismullah left today.... as did one Algerian (sorry!) and four to Iraq.I had thought there was only one Iraqi left at Gitmo but it seems there were five left. Best guess is that the four really are Iraqis. Just learned that one of the Iraqis is Abas Rumi, isn 758 and the Algerian is (did I mention the Algerian?) Bashir Ghalaab, ISN 175. Iraqis: Ali Al Thaiy (ISN 111); Arkan Al Karim (ISN 653); and Hassan Abdul Said (ISN 435).
Binyam Mohamed also told his lawyers in a letter that he is being readied to leave. If you do not know the story about Binyam look him up on Andy Worthington's home page... an outrageous story... and now Bush and his pals are done with him and he can go home and try to heal.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Why is everyone admitting to torture these last days of the administration?

Everyone else is speculating so I will throw in my own two cents.
Bush has said that he does not need to pardon the people engaged in "enhanced techniques" etc, in our war on the noun, because "we do not engage in torture." Wouldn't that be funny if he actually believes that and really has not believed that a pardon was necessary! Cheney and friends of course know better and perhaps they felt they had to publicly acknowledge their role so that Bush would feel obligated to grant the pardon.
An Interesting aside to this is that Mukasey announced now (click on title to read) that by AG nominee Holder declaring "water boarding to be torture" many of the Bush war criminals are now at risk... so even though chief of the GTMO prosecutions "convening authority" Susan Crawford this week called the torture of one of the gitmo detainees by its real name "torture" these war criminals can now hide behind the fact that Holder has said water boarding is torture. Icing on the cake for them and now Bush will most likely be pressured to give the pardons (if he was not convinced that it was necessary)... And most likely he will use Holder as his excuse for entering the pardons (and conveniently ignoring Crawford's own statements?) ("My fellow American's we do not torture... but now this new upstart AG is suggesting that what we did was in fact torture... I just can't let our good people who were protecting us all be prosecuted for doing what we all know was right and necessary"... and blah blah blah....question is will he admit that he ordered the torture and then pardon himself....?
Just another theory to float out there on a cold and snowy Saturday morning.

Update from "100 days to close Guantanamo"

If you are in the Washington DC area please stop by and add some words of encouragement to the people fasting and protesting Guantanamo.

Here are some updates from Washington, DC & the Fast for Justice:
There are currently over 110 people fasting around the country, and 70 men in Guantanamo on Hunger Strike.

Thursday brought them into Day 5 of the fast. The daily vigil began at DuPont Circle, and made its way to the Russell Senate Building, where five members of Witness Against Torture had arrived early in the morning to get seats for the hearings of Eric Holder for Attorney General. The five orange jump-suited folks sat in the hearings, carrying the message that “waterboarding is a crime” & “torture is a crime.” You can see photos from Thursday’s presence in DC.

On Wednesday, after their daily vigil in DC, Witness Against Torture participated in "The First 100 Days: Bringing Human Rights Home" press conference and panel discussion at the National Press Club, put together by the Center for Constitutional Rights.

You can see the joint statement released by the American Arab Anti Discrimination Committee, the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Constitution Project, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, the National Lawyers Guild, the Partnership for Civil Justice, the Torture Abolition Survivors Support Coalition, the US Human Rights Network, and Witness Against Torture here:
and video from the press conference.

Attached is a letter similar to the one that all of the fasters have been sending to their congressional representatives. Please take a minute to send it along to your representatives on their behalf. And be in touch with them or just stop by if you want to join them in DC anytime over the next 100 Days!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tear it Down

Click on the title for Amnesty's latest call to close Guantanamo.

Bismullah News

We just received word that Bismullah had a new CSRT on Christmas Eve, which concluded he should no longer be deemed an enemy combatant. The determination became final on Monday and -- according to the DOJ -- he'll be released from Gitmo as soon as possible.

Judge Leon Enters Another Habeas Petition

Mohammed el gharani, the saudi-born chadian kid who was only 14 when he touched down in cuba just had his habeas petition granted.

The extraordinary declartion of Darrel Vandeveld

And this from Andy Worthington:

You may have seen Darrel Vandeveld's extraordinary declaration in Mohamed Jawad's habeas case, but if you haven't I had an advance copy and was able to put this together for when the story broke:

There's a more detailed version here:

Guantanamo myth number 1 rears its ugly head again

Whenever the pentagon feels it is coming under pressure in regards to Guantanamo (which does not happen enough by the way) it breaks out a new fantasy. The return to the battleground has been a favorite as I reported here before..... But what a difference a couple of months makes, huh? A few months ago the pentagon seemed to be content to settle on the figure of "about 30" have returned to the battlefield but this week in the last desperate week before Obama becomes president they have released this latest piece of crap on the title for more...