Saturday, February 26, 2011

Spain to investigate torture claims of former gitmo prisoner

The Spanish high court has given the go-ahead to do what the US government refuses to do- investigate the claims of torture and other abuses at Guantanamo. The Spanish investigation is on behalf of a moroccan man who has lived in Spain for more than 13 years. Click on the title for a report (complete with links to the court documents) from the center for constitutional rights-which has been a leader in the demand for accountability.
Emptywheel has more here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Tortured Journey

It is hard to know where to start with this piece by Jason Leopold. I guess I will start by asking you to read it (click on the title).
I think it is fair to say that everyone who gets involved in the guantanamo litigation (on behalf of the detainees) is forever changed. I have watched this with the many attorneys I have worked with over this years and with other people I have met along the way. For those of us who are U.S. citizens we also have to deal with the shame of what our country has done and is continuing to do.
As many of you know I first became involved in the Guantanamo litigation in 2005 when I took on the representation of one man being held there. Shortly thereafter I took on the representation of a second man. Soon Guantanamo and everything that it symbolizes literally took over my the point that I closed my law practice and solely focused on my two guantanamo clients and the institution itself.
I have been an attorney now for almost 30 years and when I started on this probono project I thought two things "how hard could it be?" and "this will probably last about a year." Both of those questions were really point on...because this litigation should not have been hard and it really should have been over in a year---years ago.
But I did not realize just how dishonest the department of "justice" had become and I did not realize how readily our once commanding judicial system would acquiesce its role as the independent arbiter.
Like Jason, those of us who are paying attention cannot help but become obsessed with the injustice of the Guantanamo gulag and the complacency and ignorance of the american people.
I just wish more people were paying attention.
Click here to read Jason's interview with David Hicks.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Guantanamo prisoners protest their indefinite detention

First Tunisia, then Egypt and now Guantanamo. Sorry I am a little late reporting on this.
Last month the military closed camp 4, the least restricted of the Guantanamo camps and moved all of the men to either camps 5 or 6. Both supermax facilities of the worst order. The men know that this is just the latest sign that the Obama administration has no intention of closing Guantanamo. After seeing reports of the uprisings in Tunisia the men started their own protest by putting up signs everywhere they had access.
Examples of some of the signs:
"where are the courts?" "what about our rights?" "where is democracy?"
All very good questions.

click on the title for more.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

An interview with Professor Bassiouni

Late last month I had the honor of speaking along side Prof. Cherif Bassiouni at Depaul law school here in Chicago. He published The Institutionalization of Torture by the Bush Administration: Is Anyone Responsible? late last year and we both discussed the issue of torture and accountability.
Harper's Scott Horton now has this interview with the Professor.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Might he be just a tad nervous....?

Bush cancels trip to Geneva Switzerland as human rights groups prepared a 2500 page indictment against him for mistreatment of the men at Guantanamo.
He can run....but he can't hide.
Scott Horton has more here.
and click here to view the preliminary indictment.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Awal Gul dead of "natural causes"

Sadly another detainee died at Guantanamo this week. The military claims that the 48 year old man died of "natural causes." If you scroll through the records of the first batch of documents surrounding the death of individuals in military custody you will see that the military describes almost every death as being from natural causes.... who knows if we will ever know the truth surrounding Mr. Gul's death.
Mr. Gul's attorney's released this statement:

Awal Gul passed away on February 1, 2011, from an apparent heart attack, although we have no way of knowing whether the government is telling us the truth. It is ironic that Mr. Gul may have died doing the very thing that many middle-aged Americans do every day: exercising. Among the government's three categories of Guantanamo prisoners -- court prosecution, cleared for release, or indefinite detention -- I am sorry to say he was in the last category. Mr. Gul was kind, philosophical, devout, and hopeful to the end, in spite of all that our government had put him through. He was in American custody from December 25, 2001, until now. The government charged that he was a prominent member of the Taliban and its military, but we proved that this is false. Indeed, we have documents from Afghanistan, even a letter from Mullah Omar himself on Taliban letterhead, discussing Mr. Gul's efforts to resign from the Taliban a year or more before 9/11/01. He resigned because he was disgusted by the Taliban's growing penchant for corruption and abuse. Mr. Gul was never an enemy of the United States in any way.

It is shame that the government will finally fly him home not in handcuffs and a hood, but in a casket. It is also a shame that Mr. Gul sat imprisoned for years while the Congress (including Democrats and Republics), two Presidents (Democratic and Republican), the federal courts,the Departments of State, Defense, and Justice failed to show the maturity and leadership necessary to resolve Mr. Gul's case. He deserved better. His family, including his many children and grandchildren, deserved better.

Mr. Gul's enduring hope for Afghanistan, and even the United States forces in Afghanistan, is captured in an Afghan proverb he quoted to me more than once: "You cannot wash blood with blood."

The Department of Defense's press release earlier today is outrageous for a couple reasons. The government, through this post-death statement, makes claims more outlandish even than the government lawyers in Mr. Gul's habeas case. We now hear for the very first time in the nearly 10 years since Mr. Gul's arrest, that (1) he operated a guesthouse for Al-Qaida members, and (2) that he admitted providing bin Laden operational support on several occasions. Over the course of almost 3 years in court, the government has never provided any evidence at all to support this slander.

Neither Mr.Gul nor any credible witness has ever said such things. Indeed, this is
why the government placed Mr. Gul in the group of prisoners set for "indefinite detention;" it admitted that it lacked any credible evidence to prove its suspicions in a court of law. The government never even made these claims until now, when Mr. Gul is not alive to defend himself.

Beginning in the early 1980's, Mr. Gul was a member of local forces who were allied with the United States against the Soviets. From 1989-1996, he continued to run the local weapons depot in his hometown, not unlike a police commander, which he used to keep the peace. In 1996, the Taliban swept through eastern Afghanistan and took over his city at the barrel of a gun. Mr. Gul was given two options: flee with your family to Pakistan or stay home and operate the depot at the command of the Taliban. It must be remembered that the Taliban was initially greeted warmly by many Afghans, and even the American government, as a source of hope. Mr. Gul stayed home. The Taliban soon proved themselves to be as corrupt and abusive as we can imagine. Mr. Gul discovered this change over time and resigned from the Taliban more than one year before September 11, 2001. He was arrested in December 2001 when he voluntarily traveled to meet American military officials. He had nothing to hide then and has nothing to hide now. We shared all the evidence from Afghanistan that proves his innocence with the government and the federal court. Justice will now come too late for Mr. Gul.

Rest in Peace Mr. Gul.