Saturday, June 29, 2013

a glimpse at the force feeding apparatus....

Not a pretty sight but since it is a look into the suffering of the men at Guantanamo who are being force fed I think it is worth viewing. One detainee, Shaker Amer, speaks out about this inhumane practice of force feeding here.

One detainee has a job....

There is not much for the men being held at Guantanamo to do over the course of the day---and there hasn't been much for the men to do over the course of their now 11 years of being held without charge. Before the hunger strike the men could mingle with each other during the some news on the TV... and those physically able could play a little soccer in the field outside their prison walls. All that stopped when the powers to be decided that the men should be held in solitary cells while on their hunger strike. But one detainee actually has a job- Mohamedou Ould Slahi has a book contract for his memoirs. You can read excerpts of his memoirs here and you can read about his book deal here. It is not a pretty story but I feel confident it will be well written while it exposes life at the gulag.

Latif---the continuing tragedy

My last update on the tragic death of Latif at the hands of our military included Latif's own words. Those letters were released after the military declared Latif's death an apparent suicide. The bottom line is that Latif is dead for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and being held by a country that has put fear ahead of justice.
And so now I share the latest in this outrage. The military faults its own guards in Latif's death for their collective failure to even follow the basic rules set up at the camp. Unfortunately they are still calling this a suicide but there are too many unanswered questions for that label to stick.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A word to/about Snowden....

Actually two:


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Oh and there is this....

Seems Senator Feinstein woke up briefly yesterday and issued a statement to the Pentagon asking them to stop the torture regime of force feeding the Guantanamo prisoners. I suspect she is back to sleep as I type but in her statement she made the following observations:

The Practice is inconsistent with international norms; I urge the Defense Department to put in place ‘the most humane policies possible’ ....noting that 60 percent of detainees are on a hunger strike and more than 40 being forcibly fed.

Col. Bogdan should be relieved of his command......

I think I said something similar a few weeks back but read this commentary by fellow Gitmo attorney David Remes in the Guardian which says pretty much the same thing I said.... but perhaps a little more eloquently.....

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

updated---crap from the obama administration----

The talking dog brings us up to date on a new Gitmo information release from Obama's people and some worthy commentary on the surveillance issues. He updated it last night to provide the other lists released by the pentagon- it was one of those lists that showed my client being referred to the military commission. check out the very bottom of the talking dogs post....... I want to just discuss briefly that new release of information that the administration provided pursuant to a freedom of information act request (FOIA). I have represented my remaining client for over seven years now. I represented him in what is generously referred to as a habeas "hearing"- although even the judge remarked during that circus that it was not really a hearing----more on that after the appeal is completed--my client was not allowed to attend the event, he could only listen to part of my opening argument (the part that was open to the public) and even then the military cutoff the call just over half way through the public opening because the call was over his allotted time (45 minutes- and no my public opening was not even close to 45 minutes but there were technical difficulties with the phone connection), he was not allowed to see the so-called evidence that the government said justified his continued detention and I was not allowed to discuss it with him---I could go on and on about the failures of this process which one day I will, but not today....anyway this brings me back to the FOIA release yesterday which lists the men who are being held indefinitely and those who will be subject to commission trials. As an attorney for my client you would expect that I would know his status? Well here is what I knew- I knew my client was not cleared for transfer or release. I knew that because my transparent government released the list last year- pursuant to a FOIA request- of the men who were cleared. My client's name was not on it therefore I could deduce he was not cleared. Was he going to a military trial or was he just going to rot away at Guantanamo without charge or trial? The government would not tell me that little fact (nor would they tell the other attorneys that same information about their clients) For that information I had to contact a military defense attorney who had the list of the men who were going to be subject to the military commission- I contacted him and I was told that my client was not on the list of men to be tried by military commission. So I could deduce that my client was on the forever to be detained list....until yesterday when my transparent government finally released -pursuant to a FOIA request- the status of the men who are not cleared for transfer or release. My clients name of course is in there- Razak Ali, ISN 685- and he is listed as subject to a military commission. WTF? Are they going to try him for being in a guesthouse in Pakistan where another man had stayed for a few days---a man who the government thought was an al-Qaeda hot shot -but then after waterboarding him 175 times (or thereabouts) realized that he was a nothing but a travel agent with serious head injuries? Well, to quote the previous white house asshole, "bring it on....".

Sunday, June 16, 2013

My American Life.....sigh

Thank you Ira Glass for telling part of our story (the story of the surveillance of  attorney's representing Gitmo prisoners) can listen here.
However, I want to reiterate that I do not believe that my government only listens to the attorneys representing men at Guantanamo.  I believe the U.S. Government has a back-up of every single conversation of every single person in this country - no matter how boring that conversation may be. If you are comfortable with  this- if this makes you feel safer- well, I feel sorry for you (and me- Because I happen to live here too and I kind of liked that constitution of ours....). As for me- I am not comfortable with what is happening in this country. I am not happy with Obama or with our corporate electives... I am not comfortable with any of this. Let me also tell you that we all have personal things that we talk about- and that if you take even a moment to think about it- you will realize that even if you do not have business issues that should be kept confidential you do have personal matters that would not think the government has any right to hear if you thought about it....but the government is listening to it.
This country of mine has become a democratically elected dictatorship. Unfortunately not very many here in the Old U. S of A---seems to care.
If you want to read more about the surveillance program go to emptywheel. The good folks there have been doing an amazing job of putting the pieces together and the picture is not pretty.

Media and Entertainment Lawyer to be Obama's special envoy on Guantanamo

I guess this is about as appropriate as we can expect from Obama-

Obama Chooses Lawyer as Guantanamo Closure Envoy

: June 16, 2013 at 4:02 PM ET
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has chosen a high-powered Washington lawyer with an extensive government experience to be the State Department's new special envoy for closing down the prison at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.
Officials familiar with the decision tell The Associated Press that Clifford Sloan is the pick to reopen the State Department's Office of Guantanamo Closure. The office was closed in January.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the appointment publicly before a formal announcement Monday.
The move fulfills part of Obama's pledge to renew efforts to close down the prison.
Sloan has served in senior positions in Democratic and Republican administrations and is currently a partner in a Washington law firm. 

Friday, June 14, 2013


The Bush Obama administration has just increased the number of men to be held indefinitely without charge or trial by approximately 15 men (it might be 18 but it is too hard to figure that part out because of the way the government released the information). The reason for the increase is the simultaneous decision to not go ahead with military commissions for these men- because they do not have sufficient evidence to convict the men in a military commission hearing. Read the story here.
So yes, you are reading this correctly. The military is not going forward with commission charges because they don't have any evidence to support the cases--but not having evidence has not stopped the military from holding men indefinitely without ever charging them with wrongdoing. Why? Because the military has a hunch that these men are terrorists and a hunch is good enough to keep them forever detained. That brings the number of men that the good ole U.S. of A has decided to keep in detention forever without charge to 63.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

More Troops to Guantanamo

And of course this great country of mine has to deal with the threat from the unarmed hunger strikers so more troops are on their way to the gulag.  Yes, we have lost our way.


The number of men hunger striking at Guantanamo who are now being force fed by having a tube inserted through their nose, down the esophagus and into their stomach.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Our noble "leaders" on their tour of the gulag today....


Feinstein, McCain, McDonough Statement on Guantanamo

            Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough today released the following statement:

            “We have just completed a tour and briefings of the detention facilities and operations at Guantanamo Bay.  We very much appreciate the support today from Rear Admiral John Smith and the personnel at Guantanamo, and their dedicated service in detaining the 166 individuals here in a safe and respectful way.

            “We continue to believe that it is in our national interest to end detention at Guantanamo, with a safe and orderly transition of the detainees to other locations. 

            “We intend to work, with a plan by Congress and the Administration together, to take the steps necessary to make that happen.” 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Today's hearing regarding the new "genital search" prior to attorney visits....

From Legal Times Blog

Lawyers Protest Guantanamo Bay Detainee Search Policy

Lawyers for detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention center argued today in court that a new policy requiring genital searches of their clients before meetings and phone calls was degrading and part of an attempt to discourage communication with counsel.
U.S. District Chief Judge Royce Lamberth heard argument today on emergency motions filed by the detainees' lawyers to block the new search policy, which also applied to detainees' phone calls with family. Covington & Burling senior counsel S. William Livingston called the policy a situation "where something that isn't broken is being fixed." Much of the 90-minute hearing was sealed.
Lamberth did not rule from the bench and did not give any indication on how he might rule during the public portion of the hearing. The judge previously has struck down attempts by the federal government to change policies governing access to counsel at the detention facility.
The government, Livingston said, hadn't specified why it adopted the new search policy, but he believed it was punishment for a prisoner hunger strike. In the past, he said, officials found other ways to search for contraband, recognizing genital searches were invasive and could represent a violation of detainees' religious beliefs.
Livingston said two client phone calls were recently cancelled and he believed it was because of the new search policy. Given the amount of supervision the detainees are already subject to and the searches lawyers have to undergo to meet with their clients, he said there was no justification for the change; he argued it was especially unnecessary for phone calls. He added that the government had never suggested the detainees' lawyers were a source of contraband.
"This is not the Baltimore City jail," he said, a reference to recent reports of prisoners at that facility receiving contraband. "This is a hermetically sealed environment."
Brent Rushforth of McKool Smith, another lawyer for detainees, read excerpts from letters he received from his clients explaining that they could no longer meet because they did want to go through the "humanly degrading" search, calling it a "horrible development." Rushforth said he had plans to travel to the facility next week, but would be forced to cancel unless Lamberth intervened.
The government did not respond to the detainees’ lawyers until after Lamberth closed the courtroom. In sealing the proceedings, Lamberth explained the government responses would involve information about the detention facility covered by a protective order. After the hearing, U.S. Department of Justice lawyer Ronald Wiltsie declined to comment on the sealed proceedings, which lasted about an hour.
Lawyers for the detainees also declined to talk about what was discussed. Lamberth did not say when he planned to issue a ruling.

Miltary will do nothing to end the strike....

I can't even bring myself to comment on this.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Open Letter from Detainees seeking independent medical access

30 May 2013

From: Detainee(s) on hunger strike in Naval Base, Guantánamo Bay  An open letter to my military doctor: Allow independent medical access 

Dear Doctor,
I do not wish to die, but I am prepared to run the risk that I may end up doing so, because I am protesting the fact that I have been locked up for more than a decade, without a trial, subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment and denied access to justice. I have no other way to get my message across. You know that the authorities have taken everything from me.

For this reason, I am respectfully requesting that independent medical professionals be allowed into Guantánamo to treat me, and that they be given full access to my medical records, in order to determine the best treatment for me.

You claim to be acting according to your duties as a physician to save my life. This is against my expressed wish. As you should know, I am competent to make my own decisions about medical treatment. When I try to refuse the treatments you offer, you force them upon me, sometimes violently For those reasons, you are in violation of the ethics of your profession, as the American Medical Association1 and World Medical Association2 have made clear.

My decision to go on hunger strike and to endure semi-starvation for over 100 days was not entered into lightly. I am doing it because it is literally the only method I have to make the outside world pay attention. Your response to my carefully considered decision cannot logically lead to the conclusion that your only goal is to save my life—your actions over recent months do not support such an inference.

For those of us being force-fed against our will, the process of having a tube repeatedly forced up our noses and down our throats in order to keep us in a state of semi-starvation is extremely painful and the conditions under which it is done are abusive. If you truly had my best medical interests at heart, you could have talked to me like a human being about my choices, instead of treating me in a way that feels like I am being punished for something.

You must know that your professional overreaction to my participation in the hunger strike has been condemned by no lesser an authority than the United Nations; the Special Rapporteur on Health has stated unequivocally that health care personnel may not apply undue pressure of any sort on individuals who have opted for the extreme recourse of a hunger strike, nor is it acceptable to use threats of forced feeding or other types of physical or psychological coercion against individuals who have voluntarily decided to go on a hunger strike.3

In any regard, I cannot trust your advice, because you are responsible to your superior military officers who require you to treat me by means unacceptable to me, and you put your duty to them above your duty to me as a doctor. Your dual loyalties make trusting you impossible.

For these reasons, our present doctor-patient relationship cannot contribute to resolving the threats to my health that this hunger strike is engendering. You may be able to keep me alive for a long time in a permanently debilitated state. But with so many of us on hunger strike, you are attempting a treatment experiment on an unprecedented scale. And you cannot be certain that human error will not creep in and result in one or more of us dying.

Your superiors, up to and including President Obama, their Commander-in-Chief, recognise that my  death or that of another hunger striker here would have serious undesirable consequences. You have been

ordered to guarantee—with absolute certainty—my survival, but it is beyond your (or perhaps any doctor’s) ability to do that.

I have some sympathy for your impossible position. Whether you continue in the military or return to civilian practice, you will have to live with what you have done and not done here at Guantánamo for the rest of your life. Going forward, you can make a difference. You can choose to stop actively contributing to the abusive conditions I am currently enduring.

I am asking you only to raise with your superiors my urgent request that I be allowed access to examination by and independent medical advice from a doctor or doctors chosen by my lawyers, in confidence, and that those doctors to be supplied with my full medical notes in advance of their visit.

This is the least you can do to uphold the minimum of your oath to “do no harm.” Yours sincerely,

The Detainees on Hunger Strike at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base

(Signed by detainee)

             /s/               Younous Chekkouri, ISN 197 Nabil Hadjarab, ISN 238 Shaker Aamer, ISN 239 Ahmed Belbacha, ISN 290 Abu Wa’el Dhiab, ISN 722 Samir Mukbel, ISN 043
Adel al-Hakeemy, ISN 168 Sanad al-Kazimi, ISN 1453 Mohammed Hidar, ISN 498 (Signed by lawyers on behalf of their clients)

Saturday, June 1, 2013


No official word yet but the rumor is that two men have been released from Guantanamo to their home country of Mauritania. Andy Worthington broke the story here. Let's hope it is true and thank you Andy for all of your hard work covering this American mess.

Seems that a Mauritanian that was being held in our other black hole-Bagram- was released but not the two Mauritanians held at Guantanamo.