Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Time in Washington....

The Slippery Slope We Warned You About....

There are a lot of reasons why I and other attorneys decided to represent the men at Guantanamo. Foremost, to me anyway, was the fact that as an attorney I swore to uphold the constitution. The detention of the men at Guantanamo was an affront to our constitution. Another reason was that if we do not stop these illegal detentions of non-citizens eventually it will be applied to citizens.

For over three months a U.S. Citizen has been "detained" in Iraq without legal counsel and without charge. A judge held yesterday that this had to stop...finding the Trump administration's position both disingenuous and  troubling.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Dedicated Gitmo Attorneys...

There have been hundreds of us over the years. Here is a profile on one of the newer additions...

h/o to Don.

Secretary of defense visits Gitmo

You wouldn't think this would be news but it is the first visit by a secretary of defense since January 2002- when Rumsfeld went to the base after the first "war on terror" detainees began arriving. sigh.

Read more here.

Monday, December 18, 2017

The men Obama left behind.

One of the more disgusting aspects of the trump administration (in regards to Gitmo) are the men who were set to be released but bureaucratic reasons kept them from being released under Obama leaving them at the mercy of the trump administration...

More here.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Human Rights Interlude continues

Human Rights Musical Interlude

Happy Human Rights Day...

We don't celebrate this particular holiday here in the U S of A but for those of you who live in countries where human rights are recognized we salute you. For the rest of us this musical interlude is  dedicated to you:

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Some Good News...

But of course the good news does not emanate from my country- where every day the news is worse than the day before.... but I digress.
Saudi Arabia is releasing a group of the men that they agreed to take prior to Obama leaving office. The men have been held by the Saudi government in its so-called "deradicalization" program. The Saudi government also announce it will release another 4 next month.

Read about it here.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

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

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Read the rest here.....

Monday, November 20, 2017

Military Rule overrides the Court's in the Good old U S of A

An attorney who was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service and forced to testify in a Guantanamo Bay terror proceeding is ready to take the government to the court. On Monday, Stephen Gill will take the first legal step toward suing the U.S. Marshals and the Department of Defense for $1.375 million, The Daily Beast has learned.
At issue is a question that could impact every American citizen: Do U.S. military commissions have the power to arrest Americans without showing them a warrant, fly them hundreds of miles away from their homes, lock them up without access to legal counsel, and force them to testify? The administrative claim—which is the first step to a lawsuit against the federal government—is being filed by Mark Zaid, a national security attorney who sometimes assists The Daily Beast with Freedom of Information Act litigation.
Read the rest of this troubling issue here.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Talking Dog interviews Mark Fallon

Another great interview from the dog.

Read it here.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Speaking of Clusterfuck....

Seems Mike Flynn has had alot on his plate...with his background in the so-called "counter terrorism" strategy that proved so helpful for our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq- rounding up people like my clients and carting them off to Guantanamo, without rhyme, reason or cause. So, I guess it is no surprise that Flynn would use those same talents after retiring. Lying of course comes naturally to these guys (using guys in the generic sense- there were some prominent gals in this mix too). It is really no surprise that Flynn lied about his contacts with Turkey and miscellaneous misrepresentations about other topics, but the part that must have come most naturally to him (given his vast experience) is the apparent plot to kidnap Fethullah Gulen- the cleric living legally here in the US-but wanted desperately by Turkey's rogue president Erdogan. Illegal renditions were a main part of the strategy used by my government in our forever wars so maybe Mr. Flynn didn't really understand that it is illegal?? And since we paid bounties for most of the men brought to Guantanamo perhaps Flynn thought this was ok too? (Although as far as I know we did not pay $15 million for any of those men.) But I am sure Flynn has expenses so he probably thought that was a good price to pay for kidnapping the cleric and dropping him off at a Turkish Island prison.
Anyway, Marcy Wheeler has put together a good background on what might have been going on based on the news dripping out... read her analysis here.

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Irony of it all....

Yes, there is something ironic about the General who is representing men being held at Guantanamo being himself detained (at Guantanamo but house arrest not in the prison itself!) and having to hire his own habeas counsel to file a habeas petition on his own behalf.
I am sure General Baker is not laughing at any of this but you have to wonder how much more absurd this is going to get.
Read more here... and stay tuned.

Let me back up for one minute... General Baker was "temporarily" released from his captivity prior to the article I posted above... You can read about his temporary release here.

The legal term for this whole scenario is clusterfuck.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Will the International Court look into my countries war crimes in Afghanistan?

This chief prosecutor for the International Court at The Hague has recommended an investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan following the invasion by my country after the September 11, 2001 attacks. We have known for a few years that the prosecutor was looking into these war crimes but many of us were skeptical that the proseuctor would actually recommend an investigation- up until now the focus of the Court has been countries in Africa while the US led invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq have been ignored. It is now up to the judges of that Court to make the final decision on whether to proceed- and make no mistake- this is a very political court....
we shall see.... maybe it will be time for me to head back to The Hague.

Meanwhile you can read more here.
And the prosecutors statement here.

And now he is going after the civilian lawyers.....

First the chief judge at the Guantanamo Military Commission found the lead defense attorney to be in contempt of court for following his ethical and statutory duty to resign after learning his and his teams attorney client communications were compromised and sentenced him to 21 days detention in his home (at Guantanamo) ... now the chief judge has his eyes set on two of the civilian lawyers who also resigned following their discovery of eavesdropping by the military in their attorney/client communications.
One of the (many) disturbing things about this is that the important information is under seal so we do not know the full scope of the eavesdropping- but I can tell you that attorneys would not take these kinds of steps unless the breach in their communications with their client was very serious.

You can read more here.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

From Our Friends Down Under at Justinian....

Nothing about Guantanamo this time around but since so many of you enjoy Mr. Fitch you can view this months here....


Now the judge in the case has found the lead attorney to be in contempt of court- 21 days of home confinement...

Read the rest here.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Slahi- one year after his release.....

Many of you will remember Mohamedou Ould Slahi- the Guantanamo prisoner who was held for more that 14 years without ever being charged with a crime. Mohamedou wrote a book while he was in prison that was heavily redacted. I just learned that he has republished the book with the redacted words reinstated.
Read Mohamedou's reflection on his past year- after being released from Gitmo here.
And order his book here.

Monday, October 16, 2017

R.I.P.--- M.Cherif Bassiouni

I am proud to have known Mr. Bassiouni- having spoken along side him at several speaking engagements in regards to Guantanamo and other illegal activities in my country. The cause of justice has lost a dear friend.

As was noted in a recent World Can't Wait email, M. Cherif Bassiouni passed away on Sept 25. I have copied below what they wrote. 

His memorial will be held on Sunday, Oct. 29. The details are here, please share with friends who will want to know:

We were saddened to hear of the death of M. Cherif Bassiouni on Sept. 25. He was everything the obituaries in newspapers across the country said he was: war crimes jurist, the “godfather of international human rights law,” human rights champion. What U.S. media failed to mention was that Cherif was a tireless and eloquent opponent of the whole legal premise of the “war on terrorism” and its use as a justification of U.S. aggression and crimes of cruel and degrading treatment, torture and indefinite detention without trial. He raised his powerful voice to demand an end to those crimes on the part of the U.S. government, whether under Bush or Obama. Cherif was an advisor to World Can’t Wait whose counsel and support we valued deeply.
The Close Guantanamo Ad that Bassiouni helped organize
He titled his 2010 book The Institutionalization of Torture by the Bush Administration. Is Anyone Responsible? and he dedicated it to "the victims of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment…at the hands of U.S. public agents…” The answer of the Obama administration would prove to be “no," it would not hold any of those U.S. public agents responsible for their well-documented war crimes and crimes against humanity. Cherif, however, held the Obama administration just as accountable as its predecessor. 
When dozens of prisoners at Guantanamo went on hunger strike in 2013, desperate as it became clear that Obama was not moving to close that torture camp, they forced the horror of their plight back into the spotlight.  Cherif was instrumental to the success of our efforts to publish in The New York Times a full-page statement demanding “Stop the Torture! Close Guantanamo NOW!” on May 23, 2013. His letter to colleagues urging them to sign it and donate to its publication remains a powerful indictment of the legal premise and horrific practices of the war of terror. In 2015, he lent his voice to the efforts of students at DePaul, the university where he had taught for 45 years, when they demanded the firing of a dean involved in covering up the role of psychologists in facilitating torture at Guantanamo. 
His sharp analysis, passion for justice and sense of humor will be missed.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Defense Team in the USS Cole case has resigned.... UPDATED (at bottom)

One of the cases pending at Guantanamo (which never should have been at Guantanamo to begin with but that is another story for another day) is the case against the men accused of bombing the USS Cole in 2000.
Today the entire defense team has resigned. They can't tell us all of the reasons (because the reasons are ....classified) but I am copying the full press release (except for the redactions!):

Brig. Gen. John Baker, Chief Defense Counsel for the Guantanamo Military Commission, Disbands
the Defense Team in the USS COLE Case.
Today, Brig. Gen. John Baker, the Chief Defense Counsel for the Military Commissions Defense
Organization, disbanded the trial team in the case of United States v. Nashiri. The circumstances surrounding this are highly classified. But Brig. Gen. Baker determined that doing so was necessary because it was no longer ethical for us to proceed.
As those following the military commissions know, there have been repeated intrusions into defense teams, which have compromised attorney-client confidentiality. This has included, in the past, microphones hidden in smoke detectors. In June, Brig. Gen. Baker learned of facts, which remain classified, that meant we could not have confidence that our communications with our client were in fact truly private. We filed a series of motions seeking to learn more. The prosecution initially advised the commission that the General’s concerns did not affect the location where we meet with our client. As we were allowed to say to the US Supreme Court, however: “Petitioner’s counsel then [REDACTED] contradicting the prosecution’s assurances.” This was followed by a series of classified rulings which placed us in the untenable position of having to advise our client that we could not visit him, but could not tell him why we could not visit him.
Because we were unsure of our ethical obligations, we sought advice from a nationally recognized expert in legal ethics. Based upon a completely unclassified description of the facts, she concluded that the Rules of Professional Responsibility obligated us to cease our participation in this case. We communicated our concerns and this opinion to Brig. Gen Baker, who had access to all the relevant information, including classified information and the classified orders. After a thorough review of the facts and relevant law, he too concluded that it was no longer lawful for us to proceed. As every lawyer knows, attorney-client confidentiality is the bedrock of our legal system. It is the most fundamental component of the right to counsel and it is recognized the world over as necessary for a fair trial.
In short, without getting into the details of matters that remain classified, we could no longer proceed as attorney’s in this case because the military commissions failed to meet this most basic requirement of a fair trial. Indeed, as Brig. Gen. Baker concluded, no self-respecting lawyer could continue to act under these circumstances. He accordingly found good cause to relieve the civilian attorneys on Mr. Nashiri’s defense team. That includes myself, Richard Kammen, as well as Mary Spears and Rosa Eliades.
We have mixed emotions about this. We are angry about being placed in an ethically untenable position, disappointed in not being able to see the case through, and devastated to leave Mr. Nashiri, whom we genuinely like and who deserves a real chance for justice. The entire team gave this a lot of thought but in the end concluded that this decision was the only one available. Brig. Gen. Baker also concluded that this was the correct decision and issued the ultimate orders disbanding the defense team. The ultimate decision was his.
The military commission system is a failed experiment. It does not provide fair or transparent justice, indeed it provides secret, hidden, and hopelessly unfair procedures designed to fool the public into believing that what it is seeing is an actual trial. It is not. It is an un-American façade of a court system that cannot provide fairness. And it designed to conceal the truth about the COLE bombing and the torture the United States inflicted on Nashiri. No justice will ever come out of Guantanamo.

Joe Margulies provides his take on this fiasco here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Welcome to Camp America-UPDATED AT BOTTOM....

That is athe name of a new book and an exhibit by Debi Cornwall. See below for two events one in DC and the other in NYC.

October 19: Welcome to Camp America Book Talk & Signing (RSVP here)

Where: Busboys and Poets (14 & V), 2021 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
When: Doors open at 6:00 p.m., and the event will begin at 6:30 p.m.

CCR advocacy program manager Aliya Hussain will moderate an a conversation about Guantánamo and its contradictions with Debi Cornwall, Major Raashid Williams, a lawyer with the Military Commissions Defense Organization, and Dr. Maha Hilal, the inaugural Michael Ratner Middle East Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and an organizer with Witness Against Torture. 

October 28: Welcome to Camp America, Inside Guantánamo Bay: Exhibition, Discussion & Reception (RSVP here)

Where: Steven Kasher Gallery, 515 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10001
When: Program will begin at 2:30 p.m. with a reception to follow

CCR senior staff attorney J. Wells Dixon will join conceptual documentary artist Debi Cornwall, and author, curator, editor, and critic Fred Ritchin for an interdisciplinary panel discussion on Guantánamo Bay, art, and social justice. Additional panelists to be added.

On display at the Steven Kasher Gallery will be Debi Cornwall’s first New York solo exhibition, Welcome to Camp America, Inside Guantánamo Bay, which presents 29 large-scale color photographs as previously classified documents. Three bodies of work are on view in the exhibition. Gitmo at Home, Gitmo at Play portrays the residential and leisure spaces of both the prisoners and the guards, juxtaposing implied comfort and forced restraint. Gitmo on Sale depicts the commodification of American military power through the prison’s gift-shop souvenirs. Beyond Gitmo investigates the lives after detention of 14 men once held as accused terrorists, now cleared and living in nine countries, from Albania to Qatar. The exhibition, which runs from October 26 through December 22, launches the publication of Cornwall’s first monograph, Welcome to Camp America, Inside Guantánamo Bay (Radius Books, 2017).

MotherJones has more on the photos and the book here.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Sweet Land of Liberty.....

The Guardian has a horrifying story in todays paper about my country's torture program. More documents were released in response to the lawsuit against the psychologists who were instrumental in framing the torture techniques. We now know that as part of the experimentation my country apparently wanted to know how long it takes for a person to die from hypothermia. I guess we know now. That is how Gul Rahman died. Guards were regularly checking on Rahman and apparently noting that he was still alive....until he wasn't. You can read the chronology of "significant events" in Rahman's life and death here.

From the Guardian:
"Jessen, one of the two contract psychologists who designed the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques”, spent 10 days in the secret prison near Kabul, Afghanistan, in November 2002. Five days after he left, Rahman, naked from the waist down and shackled to the cold concrete floor, was discovered dead in his cell from hypothermia.

Jessen, Mitchell and the pathetic Zirbel (and others who worked with them) are, in my opinion, war criminals. But then we have known that for quite some time but we, as a country, have decided to accept what they have done without charge or even a public inquiry.

Sunday, October 8, 2017


I guess the question is when do you let a hunger striker starve him or her self to death? At Guantanamo there has long been hunger strikes. The men have gone on hunger strikes for many different reasons- to protest their years long "detention" without charge, nevertheless a trial, nevertheless a finding of guilt; to protest the treatment they continue to endure; to protest the failure of the military to let them have more communications with their families- which most have not seen in more than 16 years; to protest the abysmal healthcare; to protest a great injustice.

The Bush and Obama regimes responded to the various hungerstrike protests with a brutal regiment of force feeding- torturing the men who dared to protest. It seems that the Trump regime has apparently decided to let them die....or at least let their bodies deteriorate to the point of no return. we have learned that the hunger strikers are no longer being force fed and they are no longer having their health monitored I am sure that some of the men will be happy to finally be able to leave the hell hole- even if it is in a box.

However, some of the men have been protesting to get attention and to change aspects of their confinement--- not to die.

I don't have the answer. Well actually the answer is that most of these men should have been set free years ago and I blame the cowardly Obama for not righting that particular ship and the cowardly judges who couldn't be bothered to appy the fucking law. Shame on all of you.

Now we are all in the hands of the inept and cruel Trump and there is no reasoning to be had. The men at Guantanamo can expect no change for at least--- three and a half years---- and of course even then there are no promises. I don't know how many of these men want to die as opposed to trying to bring attention to their fate but I do not expect it matters anymore.

For more on Bobby Sands you can read here. The British let Bobby Sands die of hunger while in prison and the fight of the Irish people in Northern Ireland intensified after his death. I think we can expect something similar as the remaining men at Guantanamo start to die.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Guantanamo Art on Exhibit in NYC

At the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. See website here.
And the Guardian's review can be found here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


In Our Prison on the Sea

I tried to copy the beautiful painting by Mohammed Ansi, a former Guantánamo detainee that accompanied this essay by former Guantanamo detainee Mansoor Adayfi in Sunday's New York Times. I am copying a few excerpts from the essay- Click here to read the entire essay and to view the painting- and then I will tell you a story about my own client and the sea. 

"After the plane landed, a bus took us to a ferry, and beneath it we felt the sea. We were tired, hungry, in pain, and in fear about it all. We were gagged, blindfolded and shackled. We were dragged from the ferry to our cages. When we arrived at our cages, we whispered to one another, “There is a sea around.” We could feel it despite all of the pain, confusion and fear. All we were waiting for at the beginning was the sea......
....Some of the camps in Guantánamo were closer to the sea than others. After a few months, we were moved from Camp X-Ray to Camp Delta, which was closer to the sea, but we weren’t allowed to see it. The many fences around us were covered with green tarp to block us from seeing the sea. Once, I tried to tear off the tarp, but guards saw me and I was sent to isolation. We tried many times to tear off that tarp. When we did, we saw that there were more walls of fences and tarps, so it was useless....
...It was hard not seeing the sea, despite its being only a few hundred feet away from us. At the recreation area, if we lay on our stomach, we could get glimpses of the sea through small openings below the tarp. When the guards found out, they blocked the openings. In some cells, in some blocks, we could stand on the windows at the back of our cells to see the sea, but that was risky, because the guards punished us every time they saw us standing and looking out. Whenever any of us wanted to look at the sea, we needed to ask one of the other detainees to watch for the guards and warn us if they came around the block. It wasn’t long before the administration made higher covers, blocking us from seeing the sea."

Mr. Al-Ghizzawi had been at Guantanamo more than eight years when this particular meeting took place. We had met probably twenty or more times but this particular day was the first time that we had our meeting at camp Iguana. Like most of the places where we had attorney/client meetings with our clients Camp Iguana had been used as a location where the men had been tortured and it was a place that brought back bad memories for our clients. On this, my first visit to camp Iguana I was astounded by the furniture in the meeting room- big overstuffed chairs, a big overstuffed couch and a coffee table- not the usual decor for the meeting spaces.
I never used a translator with Mr. Al-Ghizzawi because he spoke engish- but one of the translators was on the bus with me and as we waited to go into the camp he asked me if I had been to Camp Iguana before. I told him "no." He then told me that if my client asks to use the washroom tell him that if he looks around the corner on the stairs to the left he can see the ocean. The translator told me that the men liked it when they could see the ocean as views of the ocean were forbidden. Sigh.
During the meeting Mr. Al-Ghizzawi asked to use the washroom and before I went to get the guard I told him what the translator had told me about seeing the ocean. He made no comment. When he came back I asked him if he was able to see the ocean and he looked at me and said "I don't care about seeing the ocean I want to see my little girl."
It still makes me incredibly sad to think about that day. Mr. Al-Ghizzawi's daughter was only a few months old when he was kidnapped and sold to my country for the bounty that we were offering for Arabs.  He had not seen or spoken to his wife or daughter all of those years. As I sat there I felt foolish and small for suggesting that he might enjoy seeing the ocean but more than that I was angry that this was what we had done- we had locked up innocent men and the best thing that could happen to them was to catch a glimpse of the sea. Mr. Al-Ghizzawi just wanted to see his daughter and I just wanted my country back. Or what I thought was my country.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A dissappointing Book....

It has taken me a long time to get around to writing about this book. Let me start out by saying that I have great respect for both authors. The importance of John Kiriakou's whistleblowing on the torture program cannot be over stated- and the Obama administration's treatment of this hero is a shameful example of that administrations ineptitude. Joseph Hickman's exposure of the murders/cover-up at Guantanamo (described in his book Murder at Camp Delta) is a detailed investigation into the deaths of three men at Guantanamo- an expose that was promptly ignored by the corporate media, the politicians in this country of mine and of course the public- the book is a must read for anyone interested in our gulag known as Guantanamo.
Both men are heroes in their own right.

So why did they write this book? "The Convenient Terrorist" is about Zain Abidin Mohammed Husain, a man known in our press as Abu Zubaydah. [I am purposely not linking to the book- if you want to read it you will have to find it yourself!] I cannot answer that question- I can only say that these authors lacked information that would have been important in telling the complete story of Abu Zubaydah--it is information the authors probably did not know or could not say-- because it is "classified." However, that is the very reason why this book should not have been written--it is not a complete and accurate portrayal of the story surrounding Abu Zubahdah. The details that are left out not only paint a much more damning light on the whole capture of Abu Zubahdah but also miss out on painting a much more accurate and sympathetic look at the man himself. Those details and Abu Zubahdah's story must wait until this country of mine declassifies everything- and I mean everything.

Some of you may recall that I have written about Abu Zubaydah many times on this blog. Most recently last year when the judge in his federal case cowardly and shamefully refused to allow the man to have a habeas hearing.If anyone is the poster child for my country's travesty, known at Guantanamo, it would be Abu Zubaydah. The reason I have written about Abu Zubaydah so often on this blog, and the reason I am so critical of this book, is because Abu Zubaydah is a man I know a lot about. My own client-Saeed Bakhouche (also known as Razak Ali) was arrested in the same house where Abu Zubaydah was staying when they and every other Arab in the house was arrested (the non Arabs were promptly released). My client is on the "forever list" (never to be charged with a crime and never to be set free) because he is Arab and was in the same guesthouse as Abu Zubaydah (keep this in mind when you stay at an airbnb- you too could be held responsible for being associated with someone you do not know). [However, even my client was allowed a habeas hearing- even though it was a sham, complete with some of the most rank malfeasance by defense counsel, in this case DOJ, that I have ever seen or read about- and trust me I have seen quite a lot.] Because of my client I have spent a great deal of time researching Abu Zubaydah- to show the courts that not only should my own client be released- but the man that my government and military have used as an excuse to hold my client (and many others) is also not what he has been portrayed to be. But all of that information is classified. I cannot correct the mistakes in this book because I am subject to a court order protecting that information from the public.

The details that have emerged over time have not mattered to the courts and I must say that the title of the book is a very accurate title- Abu Zubaydah was and is- the convenient terrorist. My country needed, and apparently continues to need, scary people to justify our wars against Muslims.  Unfortuantely this book perpetuates many of those myths.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Monday, September 11, 2017

September 11 2017- and it continues.

I wonder if my remaining client at Gitmo would not have been happy to just have hurricane Irma blow the place away and put an end to the endlessness. But alas, word has it that all have survived at the gulag.

As I do every September 11th, I turn this over to my friend The Talking Dog- a person who was actually closer to the New York devastation than most of us- to put all of this in perspective.

Read was he has to say here.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

From Our Friends Down Under at Justinian...

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The CIA's rendition plane. Yours for $27.5m
For those wanting to own a piece of history, the infamous aircraft N313P, one of the planes used for CIA torture renditions, was recently put on sale for $27.5 million. N313P ferried torture victims to US vassal states such as Poland and human rights violators like Uzbekistan, Egypt and Libya.
Neither the US government nor American courts have provided any civil remedy for the victims of such CIA operations, and both the Bush and Obama administrations invoked the state secrets doctrine - along with other shameful ruses - to block any recovery of damages by those affected.
Except for a settlement some Abu Ghraib abuse victims obtained from the US government contractor L-3 Services (and others may possibly achieve in a pending suit against the contractor CACI International), victims of US abduction and torture have only received compensation from a few of the accomplices such as Macedonia and Poland, through claims in the European Court of Human Rights.
A new avenue has now opened up, however, through which the CIA could be indirectly obliged to pay compensation, even though the former head of the CIA's Thai torture camp, Gina Haspel, is now the top official at the agency. 
CIA torture gurus: Jessen & Mitchell
When we last visited Ms Haspel (see March Fitch), she'd been evading a deposition in Salim v Mitchell, the lawsuit brought by two CIA-tortured men and the family of a third who was tortured to death (the depositions of other CIA identities were successfully taken).  
Venue for the civil damages suit lay in the progressive enclave of Washington state, due to the Spokane residency of the defendants, the CIA's contract "psychologists" James Mitchelland Bruce Jessen, who designed and implemented the (shudder) "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" used by the CIA.
While these plaintiffs were tortured at Bagram, in Afghanistan, Mitchell and Jessen began their highly unethical experiments on Gina Haspel's turf in Thailand, with the very first man tortured by the CIA, Abu Zubaydah, as their guinea pig.  
The psychologists relied on worthless "legal" authorisations they received, some from the odious Stephen Bradbury, now Trump's General Counsel at the Transportation Department (see June Fitch). 
Thanks in part to the stubborn persistence of a long-serving federal judge, the crusty 88-year-old Justin Quackenbush, the case of Salim v Mitchell was set for trial in September, after the judge refused the defendants' motions for summary judgment.
Unmoved by the defendants' startling reliance on the Nazi-era acquittal of a gas technician for Zyklon-B, the judge ruled that the Alien Tort Statute was applicable to the charges, including torture, involuntary human experimentation and war crimes.  
The psychologists quickly settled, more here and here.  

Quackenbush: opened up settlements against the CIA
The settlement against Mitchell and Jessen suggests that other men (the Feinstein Report lists over 100),  tortured by the CIA under the psychologists' protocols, could receive compensation at the expense of the agency.  
How? The psychologists wisely obtained an indemnity from the CIA, now activated by settlement of the initial case against them.
As promised, the Trump administration has now returned all copies of the Senate's full 6,700-page Feinstein Report to the Senate in the hope that the "torture report" will be undiscoverable in civil or criminal litigation. 
*   *   *
In June, the five defendants in the Guantánamo "9/ll" military commission appealed a decision of the Court of Military Commission Review that had reinstated dismissed chargesfor which limitations had run. Lawfare had more on this order and the al Qosi order, below.
The 9/11 men appealed on grounds that included a claim that one of the CMCR judges should have recused himself, and the DC court of appeals, agreeing, reversed. More here from Steve Vladeck
In the other order, the renegade CMCR remanded the al Qosi appeal to the commission with an odd sua sponte direction to determine whether the now freed "convict" might have since re-offended (i.e. become an "enemy combatant"), as indeed it appears he has, and implied his post-release conduct might affect his appeal. There was no statutory basis for the direction, and surely, post-conviction behaviour is irrelevant. 
At the pretrial hearings at another of Guantanamo's farcical military commissions - that of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the government's own witness, Ahmed al Darbi, has been testifying about the depraved treatment he received at the hands of his US interrogators. 
The prosecution must have reasoned this would lessen the effect such damning testimony would have if obtained in cross-examination. Al-Nashiri, it will be recalled, is on trial for sundry fake "war crimes" - offences not committed in a time, or a place, of war - trivial matters to the Pentagon. 
Judge Pohl: allowed prosecution to destroy protected evidence
The 9/11 defence lawyers are asking that the presiding judge, Col James L Pohl withdraw from the case, based on the secret, ex parte permission he gave to the prosecution to destroy evidence that was under a protective court order. 
In the meantime, the 9/11 prosecutors are diabolically claiming that Judge Pohl can't read the defence brief, for "security" reasons.  
The lead defendant, Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, responded:
"I'm used to the idea that they can kill me based on things I can't see. But now it seems they want to kill me based on things the judge can't see."  
Franz Kafka was, after all, a lawyer. 

Read the rest here.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

CIA psychologist abusers reach settlment...

The ACLU sued the two main psychologists who were involved in torturing men at Guantanamo. The suit has been pending with many important victories along the way- (I have been meaning to do an update on the lawsuit but was too busy)- today that lawsuit was settled.

"The lawsuit was filed in 2015 on behalf of Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud and the estate of Gul Rahman. It sought unspecified monetary damages from the psychologists, whose company was based in Spokane.
Rahman, an Afghan, was taken from his home in Pakistan in 2002 to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan. He died of hypothermia several weeks later after being shackled to a floor in near freezing conditions.
According to the lawsuit, Salim and Ben Soud both were subjected to waterboarding, daily beatings and sleep deprivation while inside CIA secret prisons. Salim, a Tanzanian, and Ben Soud, a Libyan, were later released after officials determined they posed no threat."



Thursday, August 3, 2017

From Our Friends Down Under...

Khadr: 10 years at Guantanamo on a bizarre murder charge
The Canadian government has paid former Guantanamero Omar Khadr compensation of $10.5 million for its violation of his rights, and apologised
Some media were mystified by the mean-spirited reaction of Canadian citizens to the Khadr payout and apology. It was hardly unprecedented: a Toronto paper cited Australia's (apology-free)  settlement with Mamdouh Habib.
The best exposition of Khadr's case can be found in a 2013 video presentation by his Pentagon-appointed appellate counsel, Sam Morison. In 2017, Fitch found only one Canadian report that acknowledged the elephant in the room, the bizarre murder charge against a combatant legally responding to an attack: 
"Under the laws of war, a combatant who kills another combatant cannot be charged with murder. That's called combatant immunity. Non-combatants who kill a combatant can be charged with murder, and they are entitled to the procedural protections owed to a criminal accused. Mr Khadr was treated neither as a combatant nor as an accused criminal. Instead, the United States invented a new war crime called "murder by an unlawful alien enemy combatant". 
The new offence made it lawful for US soldiers to kill Mr Khadr, but made it a war crime if he killed a US soldier. This ersatz war crime was invented by the United States after his capture and then applied to his actions retroactively. No system governed by the rule of law does this." 
The widow of the US soldier who, even if Omar Khadr threw the grenade, was legally killed, has lost her suit to freeze the compensation payout pending a proceeding to enforce a default Utah judgment for $US 134 million. 

*   *   *

Monday, July 24, 2017

A break from our usual programing to give you this news bulletin.......

Friday, July 7, 2017

Freedom to get back to torturing....

At Guantanamo this past week there was a celebration over the 4th of july weekend- and it seems they celebrated by bringing in one of the bands whose music was used to torture detainees. I guess this makes it official- the gloves are off again.

Read more here.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Some countries actually apologize for their misdeeds....UPDATED

Not the US of course.
But it seems Canada is preparing to apologize and pay a settlment to Omar Khadr for it's role in the detention of Mr. Khadr at Guantanamo for 10 years. The Canadian government also held Mr. Khadr in a Canadian prison for several years and then under house arrest. Khadr was 15 years old when he was captured by the US. There has never been any real evidence that the child was engaged in any combat but of course we here in the US like to blame people without evidence. However, even if he was engaged in combat he was still a child and we actually have rules for dealing with children in combat situations.... Ahhh, but who needs damn rules.

But anyway, not to be outdone, the widow of a man killed at the time Khadr was captured is sueing him to collect any monies he gets in the settlment. They of course wont get any of Khadr's money but that is not stopping them from suing him.

Read more here.

Seems that the deal is done and Mr. Khadr will finally be compensated for Canada's complicity in his torture. Now if only my country would start paying those it tortured.
Read the update from Intercept here.

unknown individuals unintentionally listened to GITMO attorney/client meetings

Well of course both of those things cannot be true- if we don't know who did it how can anyone say it was unintentional. The farce continues....

Read the latest on the surveillance by the military/ spy agencies on attorney/client meetings at Guantanamo here.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Let me pretend to be optimistic....

And the 4th continues....

The 4th in the time of trump....

Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy 4th.... i guess.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

From our Friends Down Under at Justinian.....

It's bad enough that Gina Haspel, ex-commandant of the CIA's Thai torture camp, is the agency's new chief (although she is currently at risk of German arrest). Sadly, a leading member of the "dirty dozen" - the torture-counselling lawyers who greased the way for Gina's torture regime - will be general counsel at the Department of Transportation.  
Stephen Bradbury is arguably the most culpable of all George Bush's "torture memo" men.  

Roger Fitch has much more to say about my corrupt government..... read the rest here.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

This is not good.....UPDATED

As my friend The Talking Dog points out in this updated post- we cannot look away for even a moment. These are dangerous times in this here U.S. of A .--with the lunatic at the helm.

Friday, June 23, 2017

And speaking of torture......

OK- so I wasn't speaking of torture (this time) but I am now.... It seems we just can't stop doing the torture thing. Now it is Yemen, and it sounds like alot of the same things that went on at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and a miriad of other places that we invaded and tortured men and women.

Read more here.


This has long been a concern to those of us who are representing men at Guantanamo- is the military/government listening to our conversations with our clients? There are very few rights that our clients have- they cannot see the evidence against them (if it is classified); they cannot confront witnesses; they cannot participate in their habeas hearings; even our fucking notes from meeting with our clients are reviewed. But at least we can pick and choose what to put in our notes and we were promised (sigh) that our conversations would not be recorded. In fact, it wasn't just a naive dream that the government would not listen in to our conversations, the promise was recorded in a court order. Ahh, but as I learned during my very first visit to Guantanamo almost eleven years ago to the day- "Court orders don't work here--- we consider those advisory."

So it seems the military apparently decided not to take the "advice" of the judges. Will the judges do anything about this?
Probably not- I mean why would the judges in DC start caring about this sort of thing at this point??

Read more here.

Monday, June 12, 2017


So far nothing has changed at Guantanamo under Trump- except one major change-- no one is leaving.
Carol Rosenberg updates us on her take of things at our Gulag under Trump...

Read about it here.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Friday, June 2, 2017


It is looking more and more like the full Ttorture Report will never see the light of day... Several copies of the report were in the hands of Obama but of course he never sought the public release of the report. Now the Trump people are giving the copies of the report back to the republican held senate. You can bet those will be locked away forever....
You can read more here.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day 2017

Friday, May 19, 2017

Saturday, May 13, 2017

My Tinpot leader...

As my good friend The Talking Dog said to me the other day "...we are condemned to live in interesting times." Indeed we are. I naively thought that Guantanamo would be the grand symbol of the demise of our democracy but truth be told we should never under estimate the American people. 
Read More from The Talking Dog and follow his rant:

I'm coming into the party a bit late, so I'll jump in with this piece noting that top Congressional Democrats are calling for a report on Jeff Sessions role in the clusterfuck known as the Jim Comey firing. Thing is, right now we not only have Dick Nixon, without the brains or experience, but on coke, in the Oval Office, but an entire party of treasonous enablers whose sole concern is that they can get right wing judges and policies and more tax cuts for the rich. They (Paul and Mitch, and your committee chairmen, I mean YOU) don't give two shits about the fact that a hostile foreign power has undertaken to interfere in the entire gigantic project known as democracy in the West, through the simple expedient of computer hacking and other activity designed to selectively disrupt elections (though, fortunately, so far at least, only English speaking countries have been stupid enough to actually fall for it.)
And so here we are. This President, thus far, has sacked three high profile officials (former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara and now former FBI Director James Comey) whose portfolios included investigation of his own campaign, its officials (including presumably himself) and their involvement- up to and including deliberate collusion- with Russia and its operatives in order to at least disrupt and quite possibly to change the outcome of the recent national election. And Comey was ignominiously sacked for made up cause, notwithstanding that Comey's own actions probably handed Trump the presidency.Even still it seems, Comey was taken aback by a demand for a pledge of personal loyalty, not to the Constitution, but to der Führer. The relevant movie, it seems, not being All the President's Men, but simply, The Godfather, as nothing short of kissing the Don's (funny that) ring would suffice.

WTF indeed---- THE REST IS HERE.

Want to follow the dog? His tweet is here.

And for more on the Tinpot Leader go to Intercept here.

And for you young kids, "What is a tinpot dictator?" According to wikipedia
  1. An autocratic ruler with little political credibility, but with self-delusions of grandeur.

Monday, May 8, 2017

More on Life After Guantanamo....

Now a look at the men who were from Russia but left Russia because of persecution....
Read their story here.

Monday, May 1, 2017

100 days of Trump at Guantanamo's Helm....

Nothing good has happened to the 41 men still being held at Guantanamo.... but I guess the good news is that nothing worse has happened to those men. It is status quo. I for one do not know how those men can maintain anything like a sense of sanity with the lunatic in the white house.

Truthout has more on the first 100 days of Trump and Guantanamo here.

Gitmo by the numbers....

As per the last update on March 8, no new positive decisions, the PRB has:

  • declined to grant new hearings on file review to two detainees (ISNs 708, 1460).
  • conducted full second hearings for Saifullah Paracha (ISN 1094) on March 21 and for Haroon al Afghani (ISN 3148) on March 28.
  • conducted initial file reviews for six detainees (ISNs 1456, 1461, 10016, 10019, 10023, 10029).
  • conducted a second file review for one detainee (ISN 569).

The prison population remains at 41:

  • 5 are cleared, 26 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 5 cleared, 1 (20.0%) is a Yemeni and 4 are non-Yemenis. 
    • Of the 26 awaiting clearance, 10 (38.5%) are Yemenis and 16 are non-Yemenis.
    • Of the 10 in the military commission system, 3 (30.0%) are Yemenis and 7 are non-Yemenis.

PRB Data

The PRB has approved for transfer 38 of the 64 detainees for whom it has issued decisions (59.4%).

  • 38 detainees have been cleared.  36 of these men have been released; 2 remain. 
    • 31 detainees were cleared after a first hearing.
      • 29 have been released; 2 remain.
    •   7 detainees were denied after a first hearing, granted a second hearing via file review, and cleared after the second hearing.
      • All 7 have been released.
  • 26 detainees were denied clearance and are in the file review/second hearing process.
    •   4 detainees are awaiting decision on a second full hearing (ISNs 1017, 1094, 1457, 3148).
    •   1 detainee is awaiting decision on a second file review (ISN 569).
    •   9 detainees are awaiting decision on initial file review (ISNs 1456, 1461, 10016, 10017, 10019, 10021, 10022, 10023, 10029).
    •   3 detainees were denied after a second full hearing, and are awaiting further file review (ISNs 27, 28, 841).
    •   1 detainee is awaiting a fourth file review (ISN 242).
    •   8 detainees are awaiting a second file review (ISNs 63, 682, 685, 708, 1460, 1453, 1463, 10025).

For more details, see the PRB web pages tracking detainees’ initial hearings, file reviews, and second hearings.

h/o to fellow Gitmo attorney Brian Foster for keeping track of all of this.