Monday, July 29, 2013


At the same time that the administration was announcing the anticipated release of two Algerians back to Algeria the top pentagon official currently responsible for the mess we call Guantanamo announced his resignation--William Lietzau.
We could ask why in the world would Obama kept this guy on for so long while at the same time promising to close the place but I guess it is just another example of Obama's spinelessness.

From Charlie Savage at the NY Times : 
Mr. Lietzau has played a major role in shaping detention policies across two administrations. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when he was a uniformed lawyer for the Marine Corps, he served as an adviser in the creation of the first version of President George W. Bush’s system of military commissions trials.
In the Obama administration, he has been the primary official shaping policies for “law of war” detention at the prison at Guantánamo Bay and Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.
Read the rest here.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Two being released to Algeria....

Keeping with our government's transparency they have apparently not told the counsel for the men so we do not know which two of the seven Algerian men are going home. My client is one of the seven and as I am so fond of quoting Studs Terkel's favorite line "hope dies last".... I will hope- but I am not optimistic.

Statement by the Press Secretary on Guantanamo Bay

As the President has said, the United States remains determined to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.  In support of those efforts, today the Department of Defense certified to Congress its intent to repatriate an additional two detainees to Algeria.  We are taking this step in consultation with the Congress, and in a responsible manner that protects our national security.

We continue to call on Congress to join us in supporting these efforts by lifting the current restrictions that significantly limit our ability to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo, even those who have been approved for transfer.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

"I am fallen into darkness..."

This new amnesty report on the guantanamo prisoners is available at and a short (and powerful) summary accompanying the report is available at

Saturday, July 20, 2013


On March 7, 2011 President Obama signed an executive order to establish additional review procedures for Guantanamo detainess to determine if continued detention is warranted. The review procedures, consisting of an initial hearing with an interagency Periodic Review Board (PRB), were to have begun some time that year.  It was a flawed plan because it did not allow for the attorneys to participate in any meaningful manner but it didn’t matter because like so much of Obama’s promises—it never happened. Flash forward two years and four+ months later---
Tonight Friday July 19th, 2013 at 9:12 pm (central time) I received the following email from a certain military official:
Habeas Counsel:
As required by Executive Order 13567 and the National Defense Authorization Act FY2012, a new Periodic Review Board (PRB) process will review the continued detention of certain detainees to assess whether continued law of war detention is necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.  The process does not address the legality of any detainee's law of war detention, but rather makes discretionary determinations about the individual's threat and the necessity of continued law of war detention.  The review process will include a hearing before a PRB composed of senior level officials from various U.S. Government agencies.  Detainees receiving hearings will be notified by a Personal Representative assigned to assist them in the process.  Counsel who have a prior relationship with detainees who will receive a hearing will be contacted in advance of the notification to the detainees.

Any questions about this process should be directed to…..( I am really being nice by not including that information….)

My client is one of the men who will perhaps be reviewed by this board--- he is on the list by the Obama administration of men at Guantanamo who are too dangerous to be released but whom the government has absolutely no evidence to try in any court of law…. And the Obama administration’s idea of review includes shutting out the very people who know the most about the client- the attorneys for the client. In fact, because of the rules set up for these men we attorneys know even more than our clients because we are allowed to review evidence that we are not allowed to discuss with our clients.

And I guess I should add that the U.S. government has yet to implement the determinations of the last interagency entity--the Guantanamo Review Task Force, which approved for release over half of the current prison population at Guantanamo back in 2010. The overwhelming majority of those men still languish at the prison today.

For the Periodic Review Boards to be taken seriously, the U.S. government should begin releasing the men that were cleared for release by the previous interagency entity years ago.

For those interested here are the guidelines that were issued in 2012 but never utilized.
This concludes today’s WTF moment. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Who provides the "contraband?"

This question comes from an article in the Atlantic Wire. It does miss the point though--- interrogators are the biggest source of gifts to the men---and yes, even after 11 years the men are still interrogated and if they cooperate they get gifts that they can showcase to the other men.  Everything we (the attorneys) bring to a visit is searched- although so far we have not been subject to genital searches---(hate to give the pervert any ideas, but just sayin....)

The Drone killing of an American teenager....correction and updated YET AGAIN

I have commented on this in the past (and again here) but today there is an op-ed in the new york times by the boys father. OOPS- don't know how I made that mistake- the father, also a US citizen was assassinated by drone shortly before his teenage son was killed by drone- the op-ed is from the grandfather.... It should be mandatory reading in this here country of mine and it should provoke questions if not outrage.....unfortunately the american people are asleep at the wheel and our president is worse than asleep at the wheel- I would say he lost his steering wheel but I am not sure he ever had one....
Jim White over at emptywheel has a good discussion on this here.

This morning there was a hearing on the government's motion to dismiss the case-Lyle Denniston at SCOTUS has more here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

military refuses to stop genital searches...-correction and update

Last week a judge ordered that genital searches be stopped. So now the Obama administration is going back to the judge to ask him to reconsider his Order stopping the genital searches....the little pervert claims that stopping genital searches will cause irreparable harm. Jason Leopold has more here. Politico has more here.

The issue is now out of the judges hands---the irreparable harm of not being allowed to search the men's genitals before and after telephone calls- lawyers visits etc- has been appealed by the government and the department of justice sought and received an immediate stay from the DC circus court...- so the military can continue with its abusive conduct....

The Obama administration should be ashamed of itself---but this is business as usual for Obama....

Sunday, July 14, 2013

In Memory of Trayvon Martin

KIDS WHO DIE ....... by Langston Hughes
This is for the kids who die,
Black and white,
For kids will die certainly.
The old and rich will live on awhile,
As always,
Eating blood and gold,
Letting kids die.
Kids will die in the swamps of Mississippi
Organizing sharecroppers
Kids will die in the streets of Chicago
Organizing workers
Kids will die in the orange groves of California
Telling others to get together
Whites and Filipinos,
Negroes and Mexicans,
All kinds of kids will die
Who don’t believe in lies, and bribes, and contentment
And a lousy peace.
Of course, the wise and the learned
Who pen editorials in the papers,
And the gentlemen with Dr. in front of their names
White and black,
Who make surveys and write books
Will live on weaving words to smother the kids who die,
And the sleazy courts,
And the bribe-reaching police,
And the blood-loving generals,
And the money-loving preachers
Will all raise their hands against the kids who die,
Beating them with laws and clubs and bayonets and bullets
To frighten the people—
For the kids who die are like iron in the blood of the people—
And the old and rich don’t want the people
To taste the iron of the kids who die,
Don’t want the people to get wise to their own power,
To believe an Angelo Herndon, or even get together
Listen, kids who die—
Maybe, now, there will be no monument for you
Except in our hearts
Maybe your bodies’ll be lost in a swamp
Or a prison grave, or the potter’s field,
Or the rivers where you’re drowned like Leibknecht
But the day will come—
You are sure yourselves that it is coming—
When the marching feet of the masses
Will raise for you a living monument of love,
And joy, and laughter,
And black hands and white hands clasped as one,
And a song that reaches the sky—
The song of the life triumphant

Through the kids who die.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Edward Snowden speaks....and again I say thank you to Mr. Snowden.....

Hello. My name is Ed Snowden. A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone's communications at any time. That is the power to change people's fates.
It is also a serious violation of the law. The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance. While the US Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice – that it must be seen to be done. The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law.
I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: "Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring."
Accordingly, I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.
That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets.
Since that time, the government and intelligence services of the United States of America have attempted to make an example of me, a warning to all others who might speak out as I have. I have been made stateless and hounded for my act of political expression. The United States Government has placed me on no-fly lists. It demanded Hong Kong return me outside of the framework of its laws, in direct violation of the principle of non-refoulement – the Law of Nations. It has threatened with sanctions countries who would stand up for my human rights and the UN asylum system. It has even taken the unprecedented step of ordering military allies to ground a Latin American president's plane in search for a political refugee. These dangerous escalations represent a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America, but to the basic rights shared by every person, every nation, to live free from persecution, and to seek and enjoy asylum.
Yet even in the face of this historically disproportionate aggression, countries around the world have offered support and asylum. These nations, including Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador have my gratitude and respect for being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful rather than the powerless. By refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they have earned the respect of the world. It is my intention to travel to each of these countries to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders.
I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future. With, for example, the grant of asylum provided by Venezuela's President Maduro, my asylee status is now formal, and no state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum. As we have seen, however, some governments in Western European and North American states have demonstrated a willingness to act outside the law, and this behavior persists today. This unlawful threat makes it impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there in accordance with our shared rights.
This willingness by powerful states to act extra-legally represents a threat to all of us, and must not be allowed to succeed. Accordingly, I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted. I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably.
If you have any questions, I will answer what I can.
Thank you.

From Roger Fitch and our Friends down under at Justinian

Straying from the rightful path

Corporate mercenaries settle with Iraqi victims ... While Abu Ghraib contractor ducks liability for torture ... Corporates and conservatives generally pleased after Supreme Court's latest term ... British newspaper scoops US media on major security story ... Spying on attorneys at Gitmo ... Our Man in Washington, Roger Fitch, reports 
IT'S hard to find a case where the US has strayed further from fairness and the rule of law than that of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, now on trial before a military commission at Guantánamo.
Nashiri was named as an (unindicted) co-conspirator in the NY trial of several men charged in the 2000 bombing of the US Cole in the Gulf of Aden yet, when captured in 2002, he was sent to Thailand for CIA torture rather than Manhattan.  
In 2006, George Bush decided to send some real terrorist suspects to Guantánamo, though apparently no one associated with war, the ostensible basis for Gitmo. Nashiri was among them.  
His torture, acknowledged by the CIA and documented by the ICRC, the CIA Inspector General and the Senate's still-secret report on CIA torture, would likely block any civilian trial in a US court.
It proved no bar, however, in the Pentagon's flexible military commissions, where he was charged with sundry "war crimes" occurring before there was any war, in a place - Yemen - at peace.
If there had been hostilities, the Cole would have been a valid military target.  
By contrast, fellow Guantánamero Ahmed Ghailani, accused of the 1998 US Embassy bombings in East Africa - another civilian terror attack - was successfully tried in US federal court.
No matter. Obama's lawyers charged Nashiri in a military commission.
In Nashiri, the Pentagon seeks a death penalty against a man its own mental health experts say suffers from PTSD; apparently, it's a result of CIA torture.  
While it wasn't the military that tortured him, torture - military included - has implicit impunity: every torture claim, arising from US adventures in Afghanistan or Iraq, and filed in an American court, has been ruthlessly extinguished (see below).  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Pervert's rules are "On Hold" for now......UPDATED

Yes, the pervert has had his hands slapped. We will have to wait and see if that will change anything.

Yesterday Judge Lamberth ruled on a motion by several Gitmo attorneys regarding the never ending problem by those of us representing men at Guantanamo to actually meet with our clients.
Here is the link to the opinion and the actual Order is here
This is the CLIF note version:
Lamberth's  Opinion acknowledges that "The government seemingly at every turn has acted to deny or restrict Guantanamo detainees' access to counsel."  And the government's motivation for genital searches is to "deter counsel access".  And "The court, whose duty it is to call the jailer to account, will not countenance the jailer's interference with detainees' access to counsel."
As to the government's excuses----"This justification does not hold water."
The judge also states:
"The government’s attempts to justify the new procedure on the basis of Latif’s suicide have the patina of pretext to them."

“[t]he government is a recidivist when it comes to denying counsel access.”

"The government’s repeated actions substantially increase the likelihood that its justification is mere pretext and that the new searches represent an 'exaggerated response' to its legitimate interest in security of the detention facility."
The judge went on to hold:
1.  Genital searches are banned

2.  Hunger-striking detainees can meet with lawyers in Camp 5 or 6, space permitting.

3.  Detainees being transported shall be permitted to ride in vans that allow them to sit upright.

Charlie Savage has more…..

I will try to explain more over the weekend (when I have a little more time on my hands!) but for now I will just say that Chief Judge Lamberth has pretty much been a weakling in the Guantanamo litigation and he should be ashamed of himself- he has allowed the government to ride roughshod over the constitution and deny the men even the most basic human rights--because of his own incoherent fears- [note my recusal motion started because of Judge Lamberth's public speech declaring his fear to release anyone from Guantanamo because they might be the one to blow up the capitol-but the motion moved on to other issues after the DOJ admitted to an ex-parte conversation with the judge about discovery in my clients case] [as a second side note- the judge has never ruled in favor of a Guantanamo detainee in a habeas hearing] but yesterday- even Judge Lamberth apparently realized that  “enough is enough”….of course this is more than 11 years after most of our clients have been held without charge or anything resembling due process….Judge Lamberth is a johnny-come-lately but I guess that is the most we can hope for right now.

Jim White at emptywheel has more here.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Hunger Strike is now 6 months old

With the start of Ramadan tomorrow we will have to wait and see if the military will hold back on force feeding the men during daylight hours. 106 men are hunger striking and at least 45 of those men are being force fed.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


My country has become a frightening place to live. Not just the obvious that all of you see- Guantanamo- the surveillance- the endless wars – but it’s the other things that are not quite as visible to the outside world- the dumbing down of the American people that started with Reagan more than thirty years ago- cutting education funding and social benefits. It was a rare sight when I was a teenager to see anyone on the street begging for food and money- now it is a rare sight to go more than 100 feet in almost every city in this country and not see people begging for food and money. More than two and a half million people are in prisons in this country- far too many of them are not guilty of the crimes that landed them in prison but because our justice system is so corrupt people end up pleading guilty for crimes they did not commit because of the fear of the sentence if they are found guilty. The quest to convict and to maintain those convictions by our police and by our prosecutors has turned the police and prosecutors into criminals- hiding evidence- hiding witnesses- lying to the courts.
This brings me to the person who should be hailed as an American Patriot-Edward Snowden- when I saw that his legal counsel was none other than former Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon I just smiled. As tough a battle as this is and will be-Snowden is in good hands. Snowden unveiled- for the world to see- my government’s illegal activities on a grand scale. My government is not only involved in illegal activity on U.S. soil but around the globe. My government is the traitor against the people of the United States and the world and to hide its own illegal activities it has gone viral over the whistleblower.  So Mr. Snowden, thank you for your sacrifice. I hope it is not in vein.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Talking Dog interviews David Marshall

David Marshall- another solo practitioner attorney- however David has to travel from Seattle Washington to Guantanamo to represent his client!  Thank you David for trying to bring back that other U S of A.

What would Mandela say?

The irony of Obama going on a tour of Mandela's old prison and and viewing Mandela's solitary cell is probably not lost on most of the world - although I feel quite confident in suggesting it is probably lost on most Americans. Not only because of the 166 men in solitary at Guantanamo but also the 80,000- mostly black men- being held in solitary confinement across America.  I feel quite certain that if Mandela could speak to the president he would tell him to go and take a look at Guantanamo- go and take a look at your super max prisons- and take a peek at the cells those men are currently living in.... instead of doing photo-ops in a long closed prison in South Africa.

But I guess that wouldn't be a good photo-op for his audience here in the US of A.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Force Feeding and Ramadan

With Ramadan starting next week and at least 44 men on a hunger strike and being force fed by the military things are about to get a lot more tense.... The problem is that the military does not have enough torture equipment to force feed the men only at night- and the question becomes what will the military do? Will the military decide that the right to torture the men by force feeding them is a higher calling than the men's religion? Will the military force feed the men during the day? Attorneys from Reprieve raised this issue in a new filing in federal court. Two of the judges have told the government that it must respond by tomorrow. Read the pleading and more about what Reprieve is doing here.