Friday, October 30, 2015

update on Guantanamo current statistics....

Attached, reflecting the recent news that Shaker Aamer and Ahmed Abdulaziz have been released.

The prison population now stands at 112: 52* are cleared, 50 are awaiting clearance, and 10 are in the military commission system (of those, 7 are in “active” “trial” proceedings while 3 have been “convicted”).

Of the 52 cleared, 43 (82.7%) are Yemenis and 9 are non-Yemenis.

Of the 50 awaiting clearance, 24 are Yemenis and 26 are non-Yemenis.

The PRB has now approved for transfer 14 of the 16 detainees for whom it has issued decisions.  Six detainees are officially in the PRB process and awaiting their first hearing or decision.  42 detainees are PRB-eligible but have not yet officially begun the process.  (For these purposes, a detainee is “officially in the PRB process” when he shows up on the PRB web page tracking individual detainees’ proceedings.)

h/o to Brian Foster for keeping track of these numbers..

Shaker is on his way home.....UPDATED

Good news today. It seems Shaker Aamer is back in Britain after being held for 14 years at Guantanamo for no reason... except of course that we could. More here.
Andy Worthington had this to say.
I will have a few words about Shaker once I know he is safely home and with his family- including his 14 year old child who was born after his arrest. Shaker will be meeting that child for the first time today.

I understand that Shaker is with his family now. Shaker has a long healing process as he was treated worse than many of the men currently held because of his role as a leader at the prison.
I quote from this paragraph of the N.Y. Times:

"At Guantánamo, Mr. Aamer became a leader of detainees engaged in a mass hunger strikenegotiating with the prison camp authorities. But after the protest escalated and three detainees apparently committed suicide simultaneously in June 2006, military officials isolated Mr. Aamer from the main inmate population."

It is precisely because of the role that Shaker played- not only because he was fluent in English and therefore could communicate with the prison authorities-but also because of the respect he earned from the detainees and from many of the authorities-- in those early years. But something changed prior to the so-called suicides in 2006 and almost from that point on Shaker was isolated from the other men. Years and years of solitary confinement have very likely taken a substantial toll on this man and this is yet another of the war crimes by my country. I hope that Shaker can move past what my country did to him and I really hope one day he can talk about it--- hopefully in a court of law with those responsible on trial.

I wish only the best for Shaker Aamer.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Detainee transfer announced...

The Department of Defense announced today the repatriation of Ahmed Ould Abdel Aziz from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the Government of Mauritania.

Read more here about this detainee who has been cleared for release for more than six years.

I am pleased to annouonce Mr. Aziz is now with his family. Best of luck to him.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Lawyers that paved the way for Obama to kill bin Laden

Yes, Bush had his mealy mouthed attorneys who gave him the go ahead for torture and now some of the names that Obama relied upon in killing bin Laden are coming to light. I am linking first to the New York Times story but when you finish with that look to what emptywheel has to say- because it is much more insightful- she looks to who Obama bypassed in that decision.
Very reminiscent  of how Bush hand picked his torturers...

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The battle to see the force feeding tapes....UPDATED WITH LINK

The government/military has been fighting the release of the force feeding tapes- most recently it filed a desperate motion asking the judge to reconsider her earlier ruling that the tapes should be made public--the military provided several declarations from various members of the military attesting the harm to "national security" if those tapes were made public. Read the complete motion to reconsideration filed by the government here.

Yesterday Judge Kessler denied the government's motion. Click here to the link (h/o to Lee) and let me leave you with this quote from the judge:

"One particular example given in the declarations is flat out unbelievable, namely, that if the
videos are released, Mr. Dhiab's privacy would be invaded. Mr. Dhiab has already clearly stated,
in no uncertain terms, that "I want Americans to see what is going on at the prison today, so they will
understand why we are hunger-striking, and why the prison should be closed. If the American
people stand for freedom, they should watch these tapes. If they truly believe in human rights, they
need to see these tapes."

It will undoubtedly be a long time before we see those tapes but I hope one day my fellow countrymen (and women) will see these tapes and understand the torture that we have subjected these men-- these men who have never been charged with any criminal activity.

Shaker Aamer update...

No Shaker has not been released.... at least as far as I can tell.
Supposedly the latest hiccup is that three republican members of congress decided to take a trip to Guantanamo this week and of course their little visit could not be disturbed by a plane taking Shaker home. So Shaker waits a few more days. Sigh.-
Meanwhile you can join the "I fast for Shaker" campaign and fast for one day in support of Shaker's release. It is a rotating fast so that on each day individuals are fasting. Details are here. I signed up for thursday-- why not join me on this?

A nice summary of commission happenings....

Earlier this week I discussed a couple of things going on with the military commissions but this article from aljazeera puts it all together in a nice understandable way.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

He says he wants to close Guantanamo.....

But his justice department continues to fight the release of one man that has long been cleared for release.. Ba Odah... a man who has been on a hunger strike for 8 years. Yes 8 years. He now weighs 75 pounds and by all accounts (except of course the military's account) he is in dire health. Last week Ba Odah's attorneys argued before Federal Judge Hogan for an independant medical exam. Judge Hogan did what he is good at...punted.

Read more here and here.
Oh and just in case it is not crazy enough to try to represent someone who is facing the death penalty without being able to share the evidence with your client think about this: It seems the military judge- the head military judge over the military commissions for Guantanamo- also was not aware until this past week about "a secret pentagon program" relating to the men being tried in the military commission.  "It’s cryptically called an “Alternative Compensatory Control Measure,” ACCM — " 

whatever the hell that means. Read this and if you can figure out anything let me know!!

Military Commissions latest foible

It seems that one of the men being charged in the illicit military commissions might want to represent himself. In theory that should not be a problem but of course that is "in theory." The problem with one of these men representing himself is the same problem that attorneys representing these men have- the attorneys have looked at evidence that they cannot share with their clients--because the evidence is classified. It is the same problem that all of us who represent men at Guantanamo have but at least most of us were not confronted with the reality of our clients facing execution. The men being charged at the military commission face a death sentence and yet their attorneys cannot discuss certain evidence with them because it is "classified." This is truly a fucked up system that should not be allowed.
But getting back to the man who wants to represents himself-- this is doubly fucked up because he will not be allowed to see crucial evidence against him-- again, because that evidence is classified. I mean WTF-- he is allowed "in theory" to represent himself but of course he will lose because he won't know things that everyone else in the room will know.

I am linking some articles about this shit show here and here and here and here.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

From Roger Fitch and our friends down under at Justinian.....

*   *   *
Dostoyevsky: dumped in Kazakhstan, like others since
While talk has turned to closing Guantánamo, what has happened to internees who managed to get out, some through forced repatriation to strange countries?  
VICE News has an article on two Tunisians who were dumped last year in Kazakhstan, where the Czars used to send troublemakers like Dostoyevsky. The experience of the exiles has not been a happy one; unlike Fyodor, they don't speak Russian.  
There can be worse language problems. Newsweek has a story on a recently-released Gitmo prisoner who spent 13 years in wrongful US custody after a mistake in translation.

Al Jazeera meanwhile has a where-is-he-now video on another Gitmo travesty of justice, the internment of Asadallah Raman, a 10-year-old Afghan boy held for a year at Guantánamo with two other children. His plight was first reported in 2004 in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Friday, October 23, 2015

30 days will be up on sunday...

So the big question is -- Will Shaker Aamer be sent home on sunday?
Let's hope so.
More here from Democracy Now.

Obama actually does something....

Yesterday Obama vetoed the defense bill in part because of the restrictions on closing Gitmo. I guess he is getting braver now that his presidency is nearing the end.
Read more here.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Rare admission from my government...

 The military has now admitted that the Moroccan man that was held at Guantanamo for 13 years was held based on "unreliable evidence." The man was released last month and is now being held by the Moroccan government while they do an investigation into his "crimes."
Read more here.....
Even with that news the Moroccan government is still holding the former Guantanamo detainee.
Read the latest from Morocco here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

And here's to Canada.... hoping you become a nice country again.

Will Obama have the GUTS to actually Veto the Pentagon Budget this time around....

Every year the republicans stick language in the pentagon budget that makes it difficult (but not impossible) for Obama to close Guantanamo.... and every year Obama threatens to veto the budget but then he never does....
He is threatening a veto again. Will he do it?
Read more about my wimpy president here.

What is wimpy? : a weak person who lacks confidence, courage, etc.

CIA vs. High School Students.... UPDATED

I don't know which is funnier-- that the head of the CIA had an AOL account (for those unfamiliar with AOL it was one of the biggest email subscriptions services when email first became a thing--and now the only people to continue to use AOL are primarily old and low-tech) or that high school students hacked into his account.
Anyway you can read about it here.

Emptywheel has more here.

The so-called "queen" of Torture....

"A German human rights group has filed a criminal complaint against Alfreda Frances Bikowsky, a CIA official who allegedly authorized torture of suspected al Qaeda militants. The complaint, submitted in federal court on Monday, presents proof of Bikowsky’s involvement in the torture of German citizen Khaled El Masri and asks that she be prosecuted in Germany. It also puts Bikowsky, nicknamed the “Queen of Torture,” in the spotlight of European efforts to hold CIA officials accountable for allegations of abuse."

Read the rest here.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Waterboarding by a different name...

That CIA- they are so clever.... they have claimed that they only waterboarded three prisoners. I don't know or care if that is the number because 1 is too many. However, now it turns out they "water doused" many more men--a technique akin to waterboarding and which of course is also torture. Add that to the men that they dry boarded and I think it is fair to say that the CIA (with of course the help of psychologists) ran a torture campaign that was forever changing. That of course makes it easier for the CIA and friends to claim small numbers for each technique.
By any other name it is still torture.
Read more here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

trying for accountability

Two former detainees have sued the psychologists who coordinated and oversaw their torture.... I can't help but wonder how these two war criminals will get off the hook but somehow I think they will....
Read more here. And here. and.... here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Another Forever Detainee Cleared for Release....UPDATED

Today it was announced that the "periodic" review board  (PRB) cleared Mohammed Kamin (ISN 1045 from Afghanistan).

The prison population remains at 114: 54 are cleared, 50 are awaiting clearance, and 10 are in the military commission system (of those, 7 are in “active” “trial” proceedings while 3 have been “convicted”).

Of the 54 cleared, 43 (79.6%) are Yemenis and 11 are non-Yemenis.

Of the 50 awaiting clearance, 24 are Yemenis and 26 are non-Yemenis.

The PRB has now approved for transfer 14 of the 16 detainees for whom it has issued decisions.  Five detainees are officially in the PRB process and awaiting their first hearing or decision.  43 detainees are PRB-eligible but have not yet officially begun the process.  (For these purposes, a detainee is “officially in the PRB process” when he shows up on the PRB web page tracking individual detainees’ proceedings.)

H/O to Brian Foster for pulling together the numbers....


Monday, October 5, 2015

Algerian detainee seeks relief from Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

   Djamel Ameziane was held at guantanamo for 12 years without charge before he was finally returned to his homeland in Algeria. Mr. Ameziane cannot find a job- no one will hire him because of the stigma of being held at Guantanamo for all of those years. Now he is asking the InterAmerican commission for help. Read more here and here.
You can read his petition here.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

An Interiview with Mohammed el Gharani- from Guantanamo Speaks....

Guantanamo Speaks

Former Prisoner defies ban on Guantanamo detainees coming to the US by virtually appearing. Read the rest here and if you are in NY and not rained out try to attend this amazing piece of art and humanity. Unfortunately I couldn't get the entire picture on here so click on the link.