Sunday, March 27, 2011

The war at Home....

I try to confine my blog to issues relating to Guantanamo because I simply do not have time for the other issues-important as they are. But today I make an exception and I do it not only because of its importance but also because it ties in with Gitmo- ties in with the article immediately preceeding this one on this here blog- is another example of the general state of my pathetic country at this time --and finally, because I was a philosophy major before I turned to the noble pursuit of the law.
So read is important and well written.


If you have not seen this piece by Jason Leopold and Jeff it now.
Based on the handwritten notes by a man that has often been described as the architect of the psychological torture inflicted on the men at Guantanamo-and who knows where else....Bruce Jessen.
From the article:

"But the handwritten notes obtained exclusively by Truthout drafted two decades ago by Dr. John Bruce Jessen, the psychologist who was under contract to the CIA and credited as being one of the architects of the government's top-secret torture program, tell a dramatically different story about the reasons detainees were brutalized and it was not just about obtaining intelligence. Rather, as Jessen's notes explain, torture was used to "exploit" detainees, that is, to break them down physically and mentally, in order to get them to "collaborate" with government authorities. Jessen's notes emphasize how a "detainer" uses the stresses of detention to produce the appearance of compliance in a prisoner. "

And boy I would love to see that other report mentioned in the article "prisoner handling recommendations."
This article goes a long way in explaining what many of us have witnessed in the men we are representing at Guantanamo and it is one more distressing piece of the war crimes being carried out by my country.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

From our Friends down under at Justinian

USA's new found regard for international law

Monday, March 21, 2011
Justinian in Guantanamo, Law of war, Roger Fitch Esq

Batting Padilla around the federal circuit courts ... The varied meanings ofhabeas corpus ... "Material support for terrorism" up for review in CMCR ... The Raymond Davis case - Vienna Convention applied to CIA agent ...Roger Fitch, Our Man in Washington

Donald Rumsfeld just published his memoirs, and he's receiving conservative accoladesfor "defending the constitution".

Rummy gave Guantánamo his seal of approval as "one of the finest prison systems in the world", though it's far more likely he'll be doing time in, say, Europe.

The former defence secretary and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz have meanwhile succeeded in getting the civil suit against them by José Padilla thrown out.

Padilla is the American citizen seized in a civilian courtroom in New York, taken to a military brig in South Carolina, and subjected to years of pointless punishment and cruelty.

Scotusblog has the new ruling. It's a shocking decision in which an Obama appointee in South Carolina dismissed a torture suit, because it's inconvenient for important people.

It was the reverse of the decision in California in Padilla's lawsuit against John Yoo. Glenn Greenwald and Emptywheel comment.

Click here or on the title for more....

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Military Commission Appeal Tomorrow- UPDATED

The audio of the Bahlul argument is here:   Bahlul's reply brief is here:   The US brief is here:   Bahlul opening brief, preceded by CMCR order specifying issues, is here:  

The Search for Crimes to Support Conviction at Guantánamo....

Al Bahlul is the first appeal of a Guantánamo military commission conviction to proceed
before the Court of Military Commission Review. It is notable because it involves a
conviction and life sentence in search of supporting war crimes offenses.
Mr. Bahlul has been imprisoned at Guantánamo for nearly a decade. After two
presidential administrations, one Supreme Court decision, two acts of Congress, three
sets of charges, a trial that concluded more than two years ago, appellate proceedings that
began more than a year ago, a reshuffling of the Court of Military Commission Review
and a decision to hear the appeal en banc, the government has all but conceded that the
offenses for which Mr. Bahlul was originally convicted before a military commission –
conspiracy, solicitation and providing material support for terrorism – were not
established law-of-war offenses under U.S. or international law at the time they were
allegedly committed.
The court appears to recognize this as well, because on January 25, 2011, it issued
certified questions on its own and ordered the parties to address whether Mr. Bahlul’s
conviction can nonetheless be supported under a “joint criminal enterprise” theory of
liability, or on the grounds that he “aided the enemy,” despite the fact that he owed no
duty or allegiance to the United States. These questions are the subject of tomorrow’s
The court’s action is highly irregular because the government expressly withdrew
reliance on a “joint criminal enterprise” theory of liability and never argued a charge of
“aiding the enemy” at Mr. Bahlul’s commission trial. Common sense also dictates that
attempting to justify a life sentence for an alleged “enemy” who owes no duty or
allegiance to the United States because he “aided the enemy” is illegal bootstrapping.
Military commission judges, no less than other military officers, are sworn to uphold and
defend the Constitution, not to devise creative legal theories never argued by the parties
at trial in order to uphold law-of-war convictions. Although the government may have
badly botched the prosecution of Mr. Bahlul, the court should reject the invitation in the
government’s response to the certified questions to search out some legal theory – any
legal theory – to support his conviction. Nothing less is demanded of a regularly
constituted court.
The court should also reject the government’s notable reliance on the “Seminole Wars”
of the 1800s, a genocide that led to the Trail of Tears. The government’s characterization
of Native American resistance to the United States as “much like modern-day al Qaeda”
is not only factually wrong but overtly racist and cannot present any legitimate legal basis
to uphold Mr. Bahlul’s conviction.
Sadly, however, the removal and attempted eradication of Native Americans is not unlike
the treatment of detainees at Guantánamo in that each stands alongside slavery and Jim
Crow, the targeting of immigrants, and the internment of Japanese Americans, among
other examples, as a stark reminder of how in times of fear and xenophobia our nation
has brutalized and demonized human beings as “others” who are unworthy of the rights
most Americans take for granted in order to deny them equal protection of the law.
Guantánamo was designed to be a prison where no laws applied. Today, it remains a
prison reserved exclusively for Arab and Muslim men, many of whom the president
recently announced would be subjected to military commissions, an ad hoc system
intended to manufacture convictions unattainable in federal court. This secondary system
of justice should be abandoned. Mr. Al Bahlul’s conviction should be overturned, and the
prison, which administration officials continue to recognize threatens and demeans the
United States, must be closed now.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

wimpy sack of shit

I was going to try to keep this professional....but screw it. He doesn't deserve anything more professional. Yesterday G W Obama officially reinstated the military commissions. In this fact sheet found here they actually try to claim that this is somehow an extension of his promise to close Guantanamo and reinstate the rule of law- the promise he made in an executive order the day after he took office. That is almost as shameful as his speech the other day calling for the end of tax breaks to the rich....right after he of course agreed to the deal to extend the tax breaks because of course....he is a weasel who knows nothing about leadership....and if he has any principles he sure is not willing to stand up for them.
You can find the newest piece of shit executive order here.
I am still reviewing all of this....trying to find a glimmer of hope but I don't really hold out much hope between this asshole of a president and a judiciary that has given up on checks and balances (and forget about congress).
Have I mentioned lately just how much I hate him?
It just goes on and on my friends.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A tale of two writs

Last week the New York Times provided an editorial a right without a remedy asking the supreme court to accept cert in the case commonly known as Kiyemba (link to Petitioner's reply brief). The long and the short of the issue is that the supreme court held in 2008 that habeas corpus can be utilized by the men at Guantanamo to challenge their detention. It seemed a great (if late) victory for the many men who had already been held at Guantanamo for more than six years. But the DC Circuit court- which happens to be the only appellate court to hear Guantanamo habeas cases continues to refuse to give life to any of the Supreme Court decisions regarding Guantanamo. In the Kiyemba case the DC Circuit held that yes, the men can file habeas cases-but winning those cases does not mean the men necessarily will be released. In particular, one judge on the court, Judge Randolph -who somehow, even though he is on senior status-seems to be the writer of a great many of the guantanamo decsions from that court- is particularly hostile to the notion that the Supreme Court has the final say in these matters.
Following the NY Times editorial Jonathan Hafetz reflects on both the editorial and the DC Circuit in this must read:

New Seton Hall Report

In recently declassified memos Rumsfeld made clear that he knew the men detained at Guantanamo were not the worst of the worst... In fact he complained that most of the men should not have been brought to Guantanamo.

In response Rumsfeld's "people" are trying to rewrite history by claiming that he never said the men at Guantanamo were the worst of the worst....

Read the Seton hall report here:

And read the Washington Post follow up story here:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Conditions of confinement for the "war criminals"

So far we have convicted in our military kangaroo proceedings: a kid, a cook, a man who worked at a "training camp" that closed two years before 9-11, and a man who refused to defend himself.
Carol Rosenberg from the Miami Herald (the only reporter that has consistently followed the Guantanamo beat) reports on life for these unfortunate men after conviction.
Under the Obabush administration it seems there are really only two ways out of Guantanamo: feet first or take a plea for something that you did not do ....the plea, by the way, is under laws that were not even on the books when the men (and child) were arrested....and then hope that my government lives up to the plea bargain.
Sweet land of liberty.