Friday, January 29, 2016

Meanwhile... back in Morocco

Younis Abdurrahman Chekkouri has been imprisoned without charge since he was returned to Morocco last September from Guantanamo. Chekkouri was told by U.S. officials that he would be freed upon his release. In a rare turn of events the U.S. even admitted that it mistakenly held Chekkouri (for 14 years.....). Read more here.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Campaign to Close Guantanamo

Democracy Now did a great segment on the campaign to close Guantanamo with Andy Worthington and Roger Walters.... you can see the segment here.
and listen to Roger Walters perform we shall overcome here.

Visit the campaign here and learn what you can do...

Thank you Andy and Roger.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

And speaking of Torture.....

Well torture apparently is just not the same without the psychologists..... so the department of defense wants its little helpers back.

Read more here.

From Roger Fitch and our Friends Down Under at Justinian

*   *   *
Columbus arrives in Puerto Grande
There's a harbour in southeast Cuba so capacious that when Christopher Columbus anchored his fleet there in 1494, he named it Puerto Grande.  
When British admiral Edward Vernon visited in 1741 during the War of Jenkins' Ear, he renamed it Cumberland Harbour. Accompanying Vernon was a naval surgeon, Tobias Smollett, who afterwards wrote up his travels in The Adventures of Roderick Random. 
The bay was a haven for pirates, long before the buccaneers Bush - père and fils - started stuffing it with prisoners and hostages: Haitian asylum seekers; men from real or rhetorical wars; even actual pirates, e.g. Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Ahmed al-Darbi, both now facing military courts for acts of violence on the high seas (usually defined as piracy) having nothing to do with war, and in one crime alleged, nothing to do with the country holding and charging them. 
Guantánamo Bay now hosts an extrajudicial internment camp entering its 15th year. In notoriety, it outstrips Devil's Island, and it has held hundreds of Dreyfuses. SinceBoumediene (2008), not one of their cases - civil or military - has gone to the supreme court, regardless of merit or the injustice presented. 
Many have reflected on the sordid history of this unnecessary military blunder, e.g. the Al Jazeera journalist Sami al Hajj, held at Gitmo for six years, apparently to intimidate his employer and pry into its affairs. 
Al Jazeera  has not been silenced, and as the Pentagon in January expatriated ten Guantanameros in one go, AJ published a "where are they now" story on past, botched repatriations and reckless refoulements.  
Only the Canadian Omar Khadr seems to be receiving the rehabilitation so many deserve after their ordeal.  
Rolling Stone had a story, "America's shame", and the Miami Herald reported on the six remaining internees (now reduced to five) from the original 20 of January 11, 2002, that included David Hicks.
Almost on cue, the Pentagon released Fayiz al-Kandari, the last of the petitioners from the supreme court's landmark 2004 decision, Rasul-Al Odah, a joint appeal by two British men, joined by the Australians Hicks and Habib, and twelve Kuwaitis. 
US Navy at Guantanamo Bay
That's a long time for a supreme court case to play out, but al-Kandari was clearly a man the Pentagon wanted to keep, despite the Kuwaiti government having sought his release for years. Indeed, the military seems to have vindictively prolonged the detention of certain inmates, while frustrating the closing of the prison itself through dilatory manoeuvres.  
The Pentagon's blanket denial of prison-of-war status meanwhile continues. It began with George Bush's initial suspension of the Third Geneva Convention, but as this column has frequently noted, only Congress can derogate from a ratified treaty.
Bush's extralegal rupture of GIII was swiftly followed by his pre-emptive declaration that all Taliban soldiers detained in Afghanistan were unentitled to prisoner of war status, a nonsense Barack Obama has left undisturbed. 
One wonders why Mr Obama has spent seven years digging George Bush's Gitmo hole ever deeper.  
It would have been easy for the new president to announce, on taking office, that there would be Article Five hearings (see most recent previous post) for all prisoners then held at Gitmo. That would have allowed the US to accord GIII prisoner-of-war status to those who were entitled to it; repatriate or expatriate those wrongly held; and continue to hold - until the end of hostilities - those rightly detained.  
Those exonerated could be more easily returned, and reintegrated into society. 
The Pentagon, however, has never admitted the innocence of any prisoner released, let alone helped or compensated him. Diabolically, each is merely "no longer an enemy combatant", who's found to be "no longer a threat".  
Such a policy change of restoring the pre-Bush rule of law, of course, would have involved admitting the previous government had made mistakes - indeed, had committed grave violations of the Geneva Conventions. 
It would also have meant conceding the war in Afghanistan was an International Armed Conflict, where GIII applied throughout. That's something the Pentagon could never allow, for the military is now inured to the impunity they receive under the looser Common Article Three standards for treatment of prisoners in a Non-International Armed Conflict.  
It's worth remembering that according to studies, only five percent of prisoners sent to Guantanamo were captured by Americans on a battlefield. The rest were either unvetted Northern Alliance prisoners; men abducted elsewhere (as far away as Bosnia, Thailand and the Gambia); or all too often, men bought with $5000 bounties paid to needy Afghans and venal Pakistanis.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

2 Released today.... and the sad story of the 3rd.

The Department of Defense announced today the transfer of Tariq Mahmoud Ahmed Al Sawah from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Department of Defense also announced the transfer of Abd al-Aziz Abduh Abdallah Ali Al-Suwaydi from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the Government of Montenegro.
Unfortunately the third man who was supposed to be released today  – Mohammed Ali Abdullah Bwazir of Yemen went into a panic following more than 14 years inprisoned at Guantanamo and did not get on the plane. "In recent days, Mr. Bwazir was “frightened” to leave the prison and go to a country where he has no family, his lawyer, John Chandler, said."

Read the rest here

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

January 22

That marks the date eight years ago when Obama signed the executive order to close Guantanamo.

The International Justice Network is asking for organizations to sign on to a joint statement before the United Nations Human Rights Council on Torture. The full request with links to the joint statement is included below. I ask that you ask any and all organizations that you work with or are familiar with to sign on to this joint statement. The Joint Statemetn will be presented to the Council on January 22nd:

Dear Colleagues,

We are writing you because last year we had your support in a joint statement to the UN Human Rights Council on torture and forced disappearances committed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in its so-called fight against terrorism. On occasion were more than 100 organizations around the world by sending a strong message against impunity.

Today we ask for your support again.

This month, back in 2002, the United States government decided to open a detention center at Guantánamo Bay to hold suspects of terrorism. This overseas center designed to exist beyond the rule of law and far away from public scrutiny. January also mark the month when President Obama, back in 2009, issued his Executive Order, promising to close Guantánamo within one year.  As we all know, until today Guantánamo remains open.

Guantánamo is a human rights and humanitarian crisis in the Americas region. An example of unlawful actions, impunity, lack of due process and infringement of the right to truth, justice and redress. For many years now, rights groups in the US have been fighting to close it down.

Considering that 2016 is Obama’s last year in power, we would like to ask for your support to join us in a joint statement(see enclosed) urging President Obama to close Guantánamo and guarantee full accountability to in all cases of torture and other ill-treatment. We also add a specific call to Latin American states, to contribute to resolving this human rights and humanitarian crisis by supporting a regional humanitarian effort to receive Guantánamo’s detainees as refugees, responding inclusive to the recent call made by the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights in its latest report on closing Guantánamo.

If you would like to add your organization to the list of endorsing groups, please send an email to Laura Waisbich: by COB next Thursday, January 21st.

​We are hoping to make it public by January, 22nd, the anniversary of Obama's Executive Order.  ​

Feel free to share among your networks, so we can get a wide support across the region.

Best regards,

Laura Waisbich

Monday, January 18, 2016

musical interlude....

As Studs Terkel was fond of saying..."Hope Does Last."

Friday, January 15, 2016

One of the 10 released yesterday....

Among them was Fahd Ghazy, who has been imprisoned at Guantánamo since he was just 17 years old.
“Almost 14 years ago to the day, Fahd arrived at Guantánamo as a boy, shackled and hooded,” his attorney Omar Farah said in a press statement. “Today — finally — he is free.”
As for Fahd Ghazy, he is now 31.
“There was never much doubt that Fahd’s imprisonment was unnecessary — he was cleared for release nearly a decade ago — yet he grew up at Guantánamo waiting for successive presidents to correct a glaring injustice,” his lawyer, Omar Farah said.  
Ghazy can now reclaim his life.
“I am not ISN 26,” he said. “That is the government’s number. My name is Fahd Ghazy. I am a human being, a man who is loved and who loves.” 
Read the rest here.
This is what I meant when I said that Obama owns this mess.... Half the time that Ghazy was held  was under Obama's regime. And Ghazy was cleared for release that entire time.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Banner Day.... 10 Yemeni's on their way to Oman

The Department of Defense announced today the transfer of Fahed Abdullah Ahmad Ghazi, Samir Naji al-Hasan Muqbil, Adham Mohamed Ali Awad, Mukhtar Yahya Naji al-Warafi, Abu Bakr Ibn Muhammad al-Ahdal, Muhammad Salih Husayn al-Shaykh, Muhammad Said Salim Bin Salman, Said Muhammad Salih Hatim, Umar Said Salim al-Dini, and Fahmi Abdallah Ahmad Ubadi al-Tulaqi from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the Government of Oman. 

93 Remain...

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

And this from London....

Shaker and other former Gitmo prisoners.... protesting the fact that Guantanamo is still open on the 15th anniversary of its opening....


Monday, January 11, 2016

Another detainee released today...

The Department of Defense announced today the repatriation of Muhammed Abd Al Rahman Awn Al-Shamrani from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

Today starts the 15th year of my country's war crime called Guantanamo. 103 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay.

Just to keep things in perspective.....

In twenty days Obama will have kept Guantanamo open longer than Bush.
Obama owns this mess and cannot blame others for his inaction.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

fifteen years of lawlessness

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the fifteenth year of Guantanamo. It also marks the eleventh year of my representation of Guantanamo detainees- pro bono. I began my representation because I believed in the rule of law. I believed that zealous legal representation would mean something in this country of mine. I was wrong. My remaining client will start his fifteen year in just a few months. Guantanamo has been a failure of leadership, a failure of  the rule of law and a failure of democratic principles.

Carol Rosenberg reports on what my government called "the worst of the worst."  Of those first 20 of the so-called "worst"  14 were long ago released and 4 of the 6 remaining have been "cleared" for release..

Friday, January 8, 2016

Last Kuwaiti is released... Updated with latest statistics

The Department of Defense announced today the repatriation of Faez Mohammed Ahmed Al-Kandari from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the government of the State of Kuwait.

Carol Rosenberg has more here.

Reflecting the repatration of Faiz al Kandari to Kuwait today.

The prison population now stands at 104: 45 are cleared, 49 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 45 cleared, 37 (82.2%) are Yemenis and 9 are non-Yemenis.

Of the 49 awaiting clearance, 23 are Yemenis and 26 are non-Yemenis.

The PRB has approved for transfer 15 of the 18 detainees for whom it has issued decisions.  Eight detainees are officially in the PRB process and awaiting their first hearing or decision.  38 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.)

as alwayts-- h/o to Brian Foster for the numbers

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Two detainees released today....

The Department of Defense announced today the transfer of Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the Government of Ghana.

As directed by the president's Jan. 22, 2009, executive order, the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force conducted a comprehensive review of these cases. As a result of those reviews, which examined a number of factors, including security issues, Atef and Al-Dhuby were unanimously approved for transfer by the six departments and agencies comprising the task force.

105 remain....

Sunday, January 3, 2016

fifteen years and counting....

Rolling Stone did a nice piece on Guantanamo last week- looking over the absurd and senseless history of the place over the fifteen years...
yes, fifteen years. The place is as much Obama's legacy now as it is Bush's....
Read the article here.