Thursday, July 30, 2015

A few words from the "Close Guantanamo Team"

Prisoner Reviews - and 800 Days of the Gitmo Clock

Dear friends and supporters,

We're sorry to report that progress towards the closure of Guantánamo remains painfully slow. Of the 116 men still held at the prison, 52 have been approved for release, but are still held because of a lack of urgency of the part of the administration, and, in many cases, because third countries must be found that will offer them new homes. Most of the 52 are Yemenis, and the entire U.S. establishment is unwilling to repatriate Yemenis because of the security situation in their homeland.

However, we have been hearing since April that a Mauritanian and a Moroccan could be released soon, and, in addition, we remain appalled that Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, has not been freed despite calls for his release from Prime Minister David Cameron, from the government and the House of Commons, which supported a motion calling for his release in March, from MPs in the Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group, who visited Washington D.C. in May, and from the many prominent figures who have stood with the giant inflatable figure of Shaker Aamer that is at the heart of the We Stand With Shaker campaign, launched by "Close Guantánamo" co-founder Andy Worthington, with activist Joanne MacInnes, last November.

One way out of Guantánamo is through Periodic Review Boards, established in 2013 to review the cases of all the prisoners not facing trials, and not already approved for release by the Guantánamo Review Task Force that President Obama established in 2009 to review all the prisoners' cases. 17 PRBs have now taken place, with ten men approved for release, and two of those ten have subsequently been freed. Last week, Andy wrote about the 16th prisoners to face a PRB, Salman Rabei'i, a Yemeni, in an article entitled, "16th Guantánamo Prisoner Seeks Release Via Periodic Review Board."

This week the last Kuwaiti in Guantánamo, Fayiz al-Kandari, had a second PRB after the board approved his ongoing imprisonment last year. Andy wrote about that decision here, and for a report on Fayiz's second PRB we recommend Jenifer Fenton's article for Al-Jazeera, "Last Kuwaiti in Guantanamo seeks to return home."

Further PRBs will be taking place in August, as can be seen on the PRB website.

800 days of the Gitmo Clock

Tomorrow, July 31, also marks 800 days since President Obama's promise to resume releasing prisoners from Guantánamo, after a three-year period in which releases had almost ground to a halt because of Congressional obstruction, and the president's unwillingness to expend political capital overcoming those obstacles. The spur for the promise was widespread shock at a prison-wide hunger strike, launched by men who, rightly, feared that they would never be released or granted anything resembling justice, and the promise was made in a major speech on national security in the National Archives on May 23, 2013.

In the summer of 2013, "Close Guantánamo" launched the Gitmo Clock to mark the time since that promise, and the number of prisoners released. We are pleased to note the 50 men released since that promise, but, as mentioned above, the continuing imprisonment of 52 others is a disgrace.

Please visit, like, share and tweet the Gitmo Clock if, like us, you want to see action soon to release the 52 men who, for the most part, have been awaiting release since 2009. It is bad enough that Guantánamo is still open, without men being held who were told six years ago that the U.S. no longer wanted to hold them.

With thanks, as ever, for your support.

The "Close Guantánamo" team

P.S. Please, if you will, also ask your friends and family to join us -- just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email. Please also note that we can be found on Twitter here and on Facebook here.


Apparently Obama does not want it.... while declaring the war over on one side of his mouth on the other side of his mouth he declares the war is not over and therefore the prisoners of war cannot be released.
This is the continued saga of a president who says one thing in press releases and quite another in litigation.
Today Judge Lamberth (you might recall him from the notorious statement he made several years ago where he declared publicly that he did not think he could release any of the Guantanamo detainees because hell- "How confident can I be that if I make the wrong choice that he won't be the one that blows up the Washington Monument or the Capitol?"  I filed a motion to recuse Judge Lamberth from hearing my clients case on that basis...and he did in fact recuse himself.) decided that the president really did not mean it when he said the war was over and therefore the detainees cannot be released on the basis that the war is over. In other words.... Obama lied when he said the war was over.
I will link to the opinion soon....

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Death at Guantanamo.....

I reported on the untimely death of William Kuebler last week.  Kuebler died from a very agressive form of cancer. What I did not mention last week was the number of other attorneys and staff involved in the military commissions who have developed cancer and other serious illnesses. I was waiting until the letter from us (the habeas attorneys) to be sent to the Department of Defense (DOD) expressing our concern and demanding a full independent investigation. Since the news is out before our letter went out let me share some of the concerns and coverage. First, it seems that the DOD has been aware of the possible cancer cluster for quite some time-- the location of the commission is at the site of an abandoned airstrip where the military buried jet fuel and the initial building that was used for the commission was long abandoned before the military commissions got started- raising the concern that asbestos might have been used in the construction. But no worries because the DOD is "looking into it...."--I will just remind everyone that it was not until last month that the DOD finally admitted that there is a connection between agent orange and the health problems of our vietnam vets. Anyway, three have died of rare and agressive cancers and by our count about 20 are or have been seriously ill- this includes attorneys on both sides and other staff.
Carol Rosenberg has more here.
Read more here and here.

Friday, July 24, 2015


I reported several times on this blog about the nurse at Guantanamo who refused to force feed hunger strikers. The nurse was recently awarded an "ethics" award by the American Nurses Association but not to be outdone the Pentagon is now considering revoking the nurse's security clearance.

Read more here.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

From Roger Fitch and our Friends Down Under.... at Justinian.

DC Circuit panel recently ruled that conspiracy and other US-invented offences are not, in fact, war crimes, after the Al Bahlul military commission case was remanded by the circuiten banc
FindLaw aptly headlined "Military Tribunals Can't Try Terrorists for Civil Crimes", butWashington Legal Foundation's director wrote, "Appeals Court Confounds Military Justice by Importing Foreign Law into the US Constitution", ignoring the constitution's specific reference to the "law of nations" when setting out Congress's power in Art I, sec. 8. 
Steve Vladeck comments here and here.
The NY Times praised the decision.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

RIP William Kuebler

William Kuebler was one of the attorneys representing men at Guantanamo- he was military counsel for child detainee Khadr and also for al-Sharbi. He was a lieutenant in the Navy who was assigned to represent these men and there was no attorney more dedicated to his clients than Kuebler. Read more about him here. I am glad he lived to see Khadr released-- even though Khadr is still out on bond and not really free....
I will post his obit when it becomes available.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

No one wants to be the commander at Gitmo!

Last week the Navy named the 15th commander for Guantanamo. This week they have named the 16th. Maybe it is like that old saying "no one wants to be the last to die for a mistake...."
read more here.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Could it be that the torture doctors will be prosecuted?

I doubt it but that is the current rumor. Read more here.

And here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Eight years of hunger striking...

This article in RollingStone should make everyone stand up and demand that the place be closed. But alas very few in this country even care.....

"Today at Guantanamo, Ba Odah is what is known as a "long-term" hunger striker. Ba Odah has not eaten – not voluntarily, at least – since February of 2007. As a result, he is force-fed, usually in the morning and again in the evening. Guards remove Ba Odah from his cell, several at a time in protective gear, strap him to a restraint chair, and medical staff force a liquid supplement through his nose and into his stomach. "Waterboarding," Ba Odah calls it, both for the obvious torture analogy and because, at times, it has caused him to urinate and vomit."

Read more:

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Thank you Greece for saying YES to humanity

And NO to the banksters.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Imagine.... there's no country....

Ma Liberte

I don't hear freedom ring anymore

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Abdul Rahman Shalabi cleared for release....

Last week I reported on this detainee- who has been on a hunger strike for 9 years. He now weighs 75 pounds. On friday the period review board has cleared Mr. Shalabi for release.

Read more here.

I will just note that the article mentions that Mr. Shalabi was accused of being a body guard for Osama Bin Laden.... many of the men at the base faced that same accusation and almost all of those men were accused of being a body guard by the same handful of men who were also prisoners and who were tortured into making the accusations.

Meanwhile back at the military commission....

More delays as the military tries to figure out how to stack the court in a way that will pass constitutional questions.... while also trying to keep the defendants from gaining information that will help with their defense.....

Read more here.