Monday, December 31, 2018

good riddance 2018

Yes, I say goodbye to 2018 knowing it was just another year in my country's downward spin. How much worse can things get? I have thought so many times that we couldn't go any lower and yet....

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The forever prisoners...

Saifullah Paracha, the oldest prisoner in Guantánamo Bay, will probably die in detention without ever being charged. His son is currently in a US prison. Both have been in custody for almost 15 years, accused of aiding al-Qaida. But did they?

Read the rest here.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Happy holidays.... sigh.

Although I don't believe everything Steve says in his prelude.... it is a damn good song.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

RIP John Gibbons.

One of the leaders in the Guantanamo litigation died this past week. Retired Judge John Gibbons argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in the famous Rasul case -- the ruling that allowed the men at Guantanamo to have legal representation and to contest their detention in the courts.
The Rasul case was an important case, even though most of the men that were released were not released through the court process, because having legal representation allowed a window into Guantanamo. That window had been shut tight by GW Bush and the military but after Rasul it was more difficult for the military to engage in some of their worst practices --because we were allowed in and publicly exposed those practices. Although there have been many battles over the ensueing years when our representation was again threatened the Rasul case was pivotal.
Gibbons was a true patriot in the best sense of the word.

Read more about John Gibbons here and here.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

6177 Days....

That is how long Guantanamo has been open. Sixteen years, ten months and 28 days. Andy Worthington, our Gitmo historian, comments on the time these men have spent in prison ( i am reporting this two days later which is why the number of days has fluctuated from Andy's.

When I first volunteered to represent a man at Guantanamo (first one man and then a few months later I took on another client-- my second client still remains at Guantamamo) I remember discussing the probono project with a few of my friends and I naively thought that my representation would last about a year. That was in 2005. Unfortunately I was way off the mark on that one!

Unfortuantely, I had not come to terms with just how cruel and lawless my country had become (yes, my country has had a long history of lawlessness). Depite our lawless past the detention of these men and the positions taken by our justice department were still shocking to me. Now, nothing my country does shocks me as I watch every day with horror the new lows we continue to reach.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

A word from our friend----the talking dog.

Although the dog's post is not about Guantanamo this time around I thought it was important to share for two reasons:
1. To show that we can all be trying to do something to help those here in our country who are being treated like shit;
But also,
2. It reminded me of the plight of Mr. Al-Ghizzawi who was sent from Guantanamo to the country of Georgia in the dead of winter with absolutely nothing but the clothes on his back... and of course the clothes on his back reflected the tropical conditions of Guantanamo. My husband and I flew to Georgia to meet up with Mr. Al-Ghizzawi upon his arrival and we brought with us winter clothes that we, and several of our neighbors, donated. Like the man seeking asylum and held in detention for 7 long months -- Mr. Al-Ghizzawi, after being held in detention for more than 10 years, was in awe of  his new found freedom -- the taste of real food and the ability to walk around without shackles.

Read about the talking dogs help for one immigrant seeking asylum here.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Musical interlude....

It is Thanksgiving here in the U.S. of A. I wish I felt more hopeful.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Released CIA report on the torture of Abu Zubaydah....

A 2007 report from the CIA's Office of Medical Services (OMS) was released after an ACLU lawsuit. Part of it describes how Abu Zubaydah was subject to an "amateurish experiment" when he was waterboarded in 2002.

read the rest here.

h/o to Walt

Friday, November 16, 2018

From our friends down under at Justinian

One of Donald Trump's legally-dubious election stunts was to send thousands of US soldiers to Texas and the Mexican border. A probable violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, it was nicely timed to coincide with the midterm elections and intimidate (and deter from voting) Hispanic-Americans.  
Perhaps election interference, a real threat to "national security", should have prompted Bill Clinton to send federal troops (or national guard) to Miami on November 22, 2000. They might have quelled the election-changing "Brooks Brother riot", a faux demonstration by Republican staffers and operatives that prevented the recount of votes, giving Bush lawyers (including Brett Kavanaugh) time to get a temporary stay from a sympathetic supreme court justice.  
That order stopped the recount while Bush was ahead and the recount was never resumed, though it became clear afterwards that Gore actually won the popular vote in Florida, and thus the electoral college. 
The rest, as they say, is history.


Wednesday, November 7, 2018


Back at the military commission abd al Hadi al Iraqi had to be removed from his latest hearing by ambulance.... because of the torture we subjected him to over the years.
Read more here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Military Commission Fiasco....

I have posted many times about the failures of the military commission system set up by the Bush administration to avoid the federal courts. This article in the ABA discusses many of the legal and ethical problems.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

WIth Hellp Like This....

Seems we are sending our torturer in chief to investigate the torture and death of  Jamal Khashoggi. read more here.
You really cannot make this shit up.
With any luck she will get arrested for her own war crimes.

Monday, October 22, 2018

The ethics complaints against Kavanaugh and other jokes....

So the Guardian reports today that the 10th circuit judge that chief justice Roberts selected to review the many ethics complaints against Kavanaugh was/is a close buddy of Kavanaugh. In fact, he is another arch conservative that Kavanaugh worked hard to get on the bench back when Kavanaugh was working in the Bush white house. Small world, aye?

As Leslie Proll, who worked on judicial appointments back when Tymkovich was being pushed by Kavanaugh for a seat on the 10th circuit (and now advises the NAACP), “This is the wrong judge at the wrong time,” she said. “Any other chief judge in any other circuit would have demonstrated more impartiality and less conflict. Appearance of bias is important in the law and this fails the test.”

Read more about Roberts sinister game in appointing this particular judge to investigate the claims against Kavanaugh here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Kavanaugh and Gitmo... lots of similarities.

An interesting comparison on the two... read the whole thing here.
h/o to Walt

The Gitmo Template
For some of us, at least, this kind of denial of justice in America is nothing new. If you were following the war on terror all these years, such a wholesale willingness to compromise the very essence of justice has long seemed like a dangerous trend in clear view. Under the circumstances, it should have been no surprise that Brett Kavanaugh came out of the Bush White House and that the former president supported him vocally throughout the entire confirmation process.
In fact, Guantánamo could be said to have created the template for that quasi-courtroom in Washington and the various deviations from normal investigation, law, and procedure that it followed. For observers of that island prison, the Kavanaugh hearings ring an all-too-familiar bell. For nearly a decade and a half now, such quasi-courtrooms have been the essence of “justice” at that prison camp, as one sham hearing after another has been held. Periodic “reviews” of the very legitimacy of holding detainees in an offshore prison beyond the reach of American justice that had no analog in the American legal system -- Combatant Status Review Tribunals under George Bush and Periodic Review Boards under Barack Obama -- were introduced simply to justify the continued incarceration of prisoners there. The only goal of such hearings, it appeared, was to avoid the requirements of established protections on the U.S. mainland like due process.
Meanwhile, in Gitmo’s military commissions, as in the Kavanaugh hearings, a central, impartial, independent authority was missing. They are overseen by judges without the power and command of those in the federal court system. Instead, as was true with the White House during the Kavanaugh hearings, the command influence of the Pentagon -- and at times the CIA -- has hovered over Gitmo’s hearings from day one.
The credentials of the latest judge there, Marine Colonel Keith Parrella, named to the position in August, have only underscored a perpetual lack of regard for professional standards. Parrella, who has had no experience in capital cases, will be overseeing future hearings for the still-untried alleged co-conspirators of the September 11th attacks, who, 17 years later, face the death penalty. Nor has time been allotted, as the Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg has pointed out, for the new judge to digest six years' worth of motions or 20,000 pages of transcripts. No matter. It’s no more of a problem than not absorbing or dealing with the Kavanaugh evidence was to the White House or the Senate Judiciary Committee. Compromised professional standards and procedures, the calling card of Guantánamo's attempts to adjudicate justice, are now clearly making the move to the mainland.
Inside Gitmo’s quasi-courtrooms, violations of longstanding procedure occur on a regular basis. For example, attorney-client privilege has been upended on numerous occasions over many years. Hidden government surveillance devices have been used to spy on detainee lawyers and their conversations with their clients, as in the case of Abd Al-Rahim al-Nashiri. So, too, the government urge to withhold witness testimony, apparent in the Kavanaugh hearings, echoes Guantánamo where the very idea of a fair trial has long seemed inconceivable to experts. As at the Judiciary Committee in recent weeks, excluded evidence has been a commonplace feature of Gitmo’s military commissions. Lawyers for the detainees are regularly ignored in their attempts to present potentially crucial material, as in the case of Ammar al-Baluchi, especially when it relates to the torture and mistreatment of detainees while in custody.

The Dysfunctional PRB's

The periodic review board (PRB) is broken. It was never great shakes to begin with but now it is completely broken. The PRB is supposed to work like a parole board in that the men are reviewed for release (of course one big difference is that people who are facing a parole board have actually been charged and convicted of a crime... unlike the men at Guantanamo). A committe made up of the national security departments reviews the men and determines whether or not they think it is safe to release them. Not one man has been deemed worthy of release since Trump became president and it appears, like everything else the moron has touched, that this has become even more of a political process than it was under Obama. Sigh.

Read more here.

Monday, October 15, 2018

North Carolina's role in torture....

Late last month the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture issued a report on the role of that state in our rendition and torture of men suspected of being involved in terrorist activities (italics emphasizing that these men were only suspects).

Just Security has outlined the notable findings which I am copying below. The full report can be viewed here.

Key findings
  • Private companies played a significant role in post-9/11 CIA rendition and torture: An essential finding of the NCCIT report is that N.C.-based Aero Contractors, Ltd. “played an absolutely central role in the CIA’s torture program,” by operating two aircraft — N379P and N313P — which conducted over 80 percent of the U.S. government’s renditions between September 2001 and March 2004. The report puts the total number of individuals transported by Aero at 49, with 34 of those among the at least 119 individuals in CIA direct custody, and at least 15 more that the CIA rendered to foreign custody or U.S. military detention. Comprising citizens of 16 countries, these individuals included a 16-year-old student and a pregnant woman, Fatima Boudchar.
  • State-level support of post-9/11 rendition and torture was critical: As the NCCIT report details, the role of state-level collaborators in U.S. post-9/11 rendition and torture is often overlooked. North Carolina’s role is particularly concerning because not only are local and state officials and infrastructure implicated—authorities provided public airports for rendition flights, built a hangar for rendition aircraft, hosted Aero’s headquarters at Johnston County Airport and “made several grants to the county airport, at least one of which was specifically used to fortify the perimeter of only Aero’s corner of the facility”—but they have also refused to investigate these connections at every turn. 
  • Rendition to foreign governments was integral to the CIA program yet not nearly enough is known about its scope and its victims: The NCCIT report emphasizes that while there has been an official inquiry into what happened in CIA “black sites” and who was in them—this was the 6,700-page study by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), the redacted summary of which was released in December 2014—this only scratches the surface of U.S. post-9/11 policies. Gaps persist because that inquiry focused on the federal level and failed to examine the role of states or private companies, and also ignored U.S. rendition to foreign custody for interrogation or detention.
  • Rendition was in and of itself a form of torture: From the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” (e.g., waterboarding) to the humiliation of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the official and public account of post-9/11 practices to date focuses on what happened to individuals once in detention. However, the NCCIT report adds a previously overlooked dimension, by detailing both the physical and psychological harm suffered during the process of transportation to CIA “black sites” and/or foreign prisons. In emphasizing that “[p]reparation for ‘rendition’ involved physical and sometimes sexual assault, drugging, and sensory deprivation. Rendition flights were experiences of prolonged pain, dread, and terror,” the NCCIT report widens the debate to additionally focus on what happened in the “torture chamber in the sky.”
  • New details on the harms experienced by victims, including their families and communities: Individuals disappeared to CIA “black sites” or foreign custody on flights originating in North Carolina have yet to have their day in U.S. courts, including when Aero Contractors has been a named defendant. The NCCIT report corrects this erasure of victims’ experience, emphasizing: (1) a range of impacts on victims, including “survivors’ legal, economic, physical and psychological health, family, and social needs;” (2) that these impacts are continuing harms, including a “phobia of hope,” or “a terror of thinking about the future;” (3) that these harms are also felt by family and communities (questions such as “how will we live?” asked by Khadija Anna Pighizzini, wife of survivor Abou Elkassim Britel, powerfully echo this); and (4) that these harms are aggravated by the lack of recognition, apology, and other remedies.
  • The full extent of the U.S. accountability lag: The NCCIT report throws into even sharper relief how the U.S. government—at the federal as well as state level—has fallen far short in redressing wrongs. Outside of the United States, high-profile inquiries in the Council of  Europe and European Parliament have exposed the role that North Carolina-based aircraft played in rendition. The European Court of Human Rights has decided five landmark cases—including two in May of this year—and three more cases have been submitted to African and Inter-American bodies involving individuals on aircraft N379P and N313P. Additionally, in May 2018, the U.K. government reached “a full and final settlement” with, and apologized for the role it played in, the rendition and detention of Aero-rendition victims Abdel Hakim Belhadj and Boudchar. Domestically, however, no federal official or agency has been held to account. And at the state level, according to the NCCIT report “[o]fficial responses to North Carolina citizen advocacy have included public silence and non-responses, dismissals by state officials on grounds of lack of jurisdiction, and the monitoring and arrest of citizen advocates rather than investigation of Aero.”
  • Why a citizen-led process was needed and what it offers: As the first non-governmental and state-level inquiry on the topic of post-9/11 rendition and torture, the NCCIT is clearly novel. Born out of bipartisan anti-torture citizen advocacy—including by North Carolina Stop Torture Now, the North Carolina Council of Churches and many others—the NCCIT demonstrates the potential for truth and accountability to be attained by citizen activism when traditional doors are shut by non-cooperating governments. Testimony provided by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, including his remark—“thank you wholeheartedly, the people of North Carolina, thank you very much for standing to people who cannot stand up for themselves”—shows that victims may also get some closure and value from these non-official inquiries.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

From our Friends down under at Justinian.....

An illegitimate SCOTUS

The US Supreme Court has been bought ... Long campaign to stack the court with judges favourable to corporate interests ... Huge lobbying and spending to secure Kavanaugh's confirmation ... Guns, God and presidential power ... The mid-terms and intensified voter purging ... From Our Man in Washington, Roger Fitch
"With Anthony Kennedy's retirement, there is no discriminatory voting restriction the justices will be unable to sanction, no immigration law born in animus they will be unable to approve, no expansion of corporate power they will be unable to accept, no grant of presidential immunity they will be unable to uphold, no financial or environmental regulation they will be unable to strike down, no religious objection to an antidiscrimination law they will be unable to recognize, no worker protection they will be unable to repeal, no limitation on abortion they will be unable to allow, and no abuse of power by law enforcement they will feel compelled to restrict" - The Atlantic.
The inevitable has happened. The US senate, unmoved by sexual assault allegations, the nominee's surly demeanour, and an open letter of opposition signed by over 2400 law professors, conferred a lifetime supreme court appointment on DC Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
A "movement conservative", Judge Kavanaugh is a Republican stalwart and former player in distasteful and highly partisan political operations. The party clearly believes he can be relied upon to bat away legal precedents standing in the way of party policy or the Republicans' hold on office (e.g, the coming troubles of Mr Trump), and his first case may offer him a chance to, uh, make a difference
At the supplementary senate hearings held following new accusations of youthful sexual assaults, Kavanaugh showed a palpable sense of self-entitlement, revealing an injudicious temperament, yet another cause for concern, including to the American Bar Association, who wanted to reopen its review of his qualifications.  
A snarling Kavanaugh lashed out at "the Clintons" and "left-wingers", ominously adding, "what's goes around, comes around". As it turns out, Kavanaugh's bad-boy drinking, woman troubles, and (perhaps calculated) senate counterattack have all been red meat for Trump's white male base in the lead-up to the November 6 elections.
Earlier hearings followed extensive legal blogging on Kavanaugh's judicial record and the likely consequences of his appointment; the senate focussed on his legal philosophy and attachment to precedent.
Conservative donors outspent liberals to influence the confirmation vote; corporate front groups keen to seat Kavanaugh spent $15 million. This was unsurprising; the nominee's double standard for corporations has already been the subject of a report by Public Citizen - more here.
By a happy coincidence, Judge Kavanaugh has a very broad view of campaign contributions, including those employed to place judges like him on state and federal courts.  
The supreme court was already lurching right, particularly after Trump's addition of the radical Neil Gorsuch, and Justice Kennedy's occasional departures from Republican party script usually involved social issues such as criminal justice or gay rights. Even if Kavanaugh had not succeeded, an equally odious justice would have been confirmed by the immoderate Republican senate.   
Although there is some suggestion that CJ John Roberts will provide a "swing vote", it seems more likely that an extreme far-right faction (comprising the CJ, Clarence Thomas, Joseph Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh) will be in control for the first time since the early days of Franklin Roosevelt. All five of them lack legitimacy, in the view of the eminent law dean Erwin Chemerinsky. 
The Atlantic's Adam Serwer fears a return to the days of the 19th century "Redemption" supreme court; others worry that the court could be headed for the lawless laissez faire of the Lochner era, a business paradise where most social and economic regulation was constitutionally circumscribed. 
Some Democrats have threatened to impeach Justice Kavanaugh, and certainly a newly Democrat house of reps could investigate his misstatements to congress (and a lot more: Republicans are circulating a spreadsheet of potential unwelcome investigations if the Democrats "flip" the house in November). 
In the long run, there remains the option of "court-packing": FDR's proposed Judicial Procedures Reform Act of 1937, though never adopted, precipitated a salutary left turn on the court, enabling him to have his legislation upheld.
It's a big choice, but there's nothing to prevent the number of justices being increased under a Democrat administration; nine justices are really too few for the proper supervision of a vast judicial system with thirteen circuit courts of appeal.  
Law prof Michael Dorf thinks that two additional judges would be about right, and the best revenge for the Republicans' 2016 theft of Antonin Scalia's seat; there may also be a need for new court of appeals positions, to offset the Republicans' ongoing judicial sabotage in the lower courts. 
The supreme court's new term has meanwhile begun. Marjorie Cohn looks at the pending big cases that explain the Republicans' rush to get Brett Kavanaugh on the court.  On his first day on the bench, Justice Kavanaugh heard oral arguments in two of the cases making this term a "criminal law professor's dream".


Friday, October 5, 2018

And for those of us who tried....

Dedicated to Kavanaugh and the senators who are supporting him....

It looks like a done deal...

Kavanaugh will sit on our highest court.

A man who lied to the senate and sexually assaulted a young woman while in high school... and who knows what else he has done because we did not get a full and fair investigation.

Shame on all of those senators who vote yes.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

The innocence of Abu Zubaydah

I have written alot about this man over the years. His saga overlaps with my remaining client's saga and so I have paid special attention to his plight. I believe that he is wrongly being held -- I can't say wrongly convicted because of course he has not been charged or convicted. Like my client he languishes at Guantanamo.

His attorney has written about his innocence. Read his story here.

Sunday, September 23, 2018


My friend, the talking dog, celebrated the 17th anniversary of his blog last week. I first met the dog when he was doing interviews of lawyers who represented men at Guantanamo. You can read his interview of me here. If you look on the left hand side of his blog you will see the complete roster of all the individuals that the dog has interviewed-- not just the gitmo lawyers but others involved in Gitmo related happenings.

My interview was in 2007. Since that time the dog and I have been friends. The dog has helped with my various supreme court petitions, appellate briefs and lots of other things inbetween. 

As the dog points out in his anniversary post...these have not been fun times... but hard times are easier with friends. And hope does die last.
Read the dog's anniversary post here .

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Lest we forget...9-12-1977

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


As I do every 9-11 I turn this post over to my friend the talking dog who was actually in New York City on that day.
Because of technical problems you will need to click on the link below.
Perhaps tomorrow this will be fixed.
Perhaps not.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Kavanaugh (Continued...)

My concerns about Kavanaugh go beyond what I have read about him -- I have appeared before him. It was not a pleasant experience.

After losing my client's habeas case -- following a "hearing" that was not only a farce but also a shameful display of shenanigans by the attorneys handling the case from the department of "justice." As I have mentioned more than once, having been an attorney for 35 years I have gone up against the best lawyers and the worst. The attorneys that I was up against in Razak Ali's case were amongst the worst I ever dealt with.... but I digress.

I filed the appeal and had some battles early on with the panel assigned to Mr. Ali's case which were disturbing. One of those battles involved  exculpatory documents (those are documents that are helpful to my client) that were withheld by the "justice" department until after the hearing was over. These were not just exculpatory.. they went to the very heart of my client's right to have habeas granted. The government claimed, disingenuously I might add, that they forgot to provide the document -- that the document was classified at the highest secret classification level -- and they therefore did not think that I should be able to see the document anyway... The government attorneys finally remembered this important document right about the time the judge was ready to enter his order (denying habeas). Unbeknownst to me the government attorneys and the judge met and talked about this issue several times after one of the attorneys privately told the judge about the mishap.  When the judge and the government figured out how they would proceed I was informed of all of this. (Kafka would have been proud.)

The judge announced that the government would still not agree to let me see the document and so the judge decided he would not look at the document either.The document was in regards to the government's main "witness" against my client (a fellow detaineed who had been brutally tortured by my government and in statements made by him under torture identified my client as having been in Afghanistan-- a place my client had never been until taken there by the military -- I guess I should also mention that the photo used by the military to get this tortured individual to identify my client was not actually a photo of my client...sigh.)  The judge, who didn't care that the government could come up with an accurate photo of my client, said he would disregard any evidence that came from that particular"witness."

The problem was the whole 5 day "hearing" was about the credibility of this one witness. The judge never did get a handle on that fact and I had to file 3 or 4 post hearing motions to get evidence that came from this individual out of the judge's opinion-- leaving my client's habeas denial down to the only "evidence" against my client -- that he was in a guesthouse where another guest was staying who was wanted by my government.

My appellate panel announced that they wanted to review that document and I fought like hell to keep them from reviewing a document on appeal that neither the judge below nor I had ever seen. They finally relented. I am guessing it was at that time that I learned that I had Kavanaugh on my panel. The only thing that I knew about Kavanaugh at the time was that he probably had lied to the Senate at his confirmation hearing about his role in Guantanao issues while at the white house. So I did what any rightous and hard working attorney would do -- I moved to recuse him. Less than 24 hours later my motion was denied without comment.

At the oral argument I watched this smug judge sit there and glare at me knowing that nothing I said about this case would matter. He is and was a rubberstamp to the Bush administration and that is what he will be to the republican agenda if he makes it to our highest court. I wrote to the judiciary committee this week and sent copies of everything to that committee. Since Mr. Ali's case is again working its way up to the Supreme Court I feel pretty confident that even this judge would have to recuse himself from hearing his case should we be so unfortunate as to have him sitting on that Court but regardless -- he should not sit on that court.

There is alot more I could say about this but that will have to wait for another day.

My good friend the talking dog has posted my letter to the judiciary committe (and the motion to recuse) on his website and you  can read it here.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Nightmare Nominee to the Supreme Court (UPDATED)

By a nightmare president:

I dont know if we will get to the bottom of this in time to stop Kavanaugh from winning confirmation to the supreme court but it is starting to look like he was more involved in torture than we prevously understood. This from emptywheel.

More emails from Kavanaugh have been released by Senator Booker. The senator is refusing to abide by the republican's designation of these email as "confidential." The emails show that the day after John Yoo wrote his torture memos Kavanaugh was pushing to have Yoo appointed to the 9th Circuit Court of appeals. Yoo however wanted to be made counsel to the CIA. Kavanaugh's fallback was to suggest Yoo be named counsel to the CIA for about a year and then moved to the 9th Circuit.

Read more about these released emails here.

Monday, September 3, 2018

musical interlude....

Because we need one about now.

Friday, August 31, 2018


So it seems that Trump is considering sending a few of the ISIS prisoners to Guantanamo. Sigh.
Read about it here.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

One of the many reasons to OPPOSE Kavanaugh

If you have not made calls or sent emails or letters to your senators opposing Kavanaugh's ascension  to the Supreme Court please do so NOW. And of course when it comes to Guantanamo he would be a disaster. Click here to read more.

h/o to Michigan Don.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

A stunning development

It is always a pleasant surprise when a judge hearing Guantanamo issues actually follows the rules of law:
Judge Bars Statements Made by Guantánamo Detainees During F.B.I. Interrogations

h/o to David R.

From Roger Fitch and Our Freinds Down Below at Justinian

Controversy continues at Guantánamo, with the political firing of the commissions' Convening Authority; the sudden retirement of the judge in the Cole bombing case; fresh revelations in declassified prosecution documents; and new disclosures of top-secret CIA cables from Thailand detailing al-Nashiri's torture at the time Gina Haspel (now CIA director) was in charge.  
The group habeas previously reported in Fitch, al-Bihani, has now been argued in Washington DC, with the Trump administration claiming it can hold the men (including this man) for "100 years", more here
It's not very different from the government's justification in 2003 before the 9th Circuit. There, in the Gherebi case, the Justice Department lawyers - led by Robert McCallam, afterwards ambassador to Australia - presented arguments the court characterised as follows:
"Under the government's theory, it is free to imprison Gherebi indefinitely along with hundreds of other citizens of foreign countries, friendly nations among them, and to do with Gherebi and those detainees as it will, when it pleases, without any compliance with any rule of law of any kind, without permitting him to consult counsel, and without acknowledging any judicial forum in which its actions may be challenged. Indeed, at oral argument, the government advised us that its position would be the same even if the claims were that it was engaging in acts of torture and that it was summarily executing the detainees."  


Friday, August 10, 2018

We shall see...seems some psychologists are still trying to get back there....

Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

to do the military's dirty work...


Thursday, August 9, 2018

The man who almost escaped Guantanamo....

Paige Lavender (@paigelav) tweeted at 6:49 PM on Tue, Aug 07, 2018:
After 14 years of imprisonment without charge, Abdul Latif Nasser thought he was finally going home. Then Donald Trump won. (by @jessicaschulb)

h/o to Walt

Monday, August 6, 2018

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The forgotten men...

Yes, it has been a long time since my last post. A lot has happened ... and yet nothing has happened. I will update when I can gather the psychic energy.
Until then --

Read this letter from one of the remaining forgotten men.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy 4th....


Thursday, June 28, 2018

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

With a morally bankrupt torture-embracing president, rubberstamp Republican congress, and torture supporters everywhere, it's possible that torture experience helped a torture-camp director become CIA Director.
Gina Haspel formerly ran the CIA's depraved Thai torture operation (on-going under local direction), and some - including conservatives - call her a war criminal. More here and here. Nevetheless, Haspel was narrowly confirmed when six Democrats crossed the senate floor.
It marked a continuation of the free pass Haspel received from the Obama administration for both torture and its cover-up.  She should, however, avoid future travel in rule-of-law countries, e.g, Germany.
Even as Haspel was being confirmed, the CIA's original "legal opinion" supporting its proposed use of torture was produced - after redacting the name of the "lawyer" who concocted it.  
Another incriminating response to FOI requests was the CIA's demand for an advance DoJ "declination of prosecution" for its planned violations of federal laws and the Covenant Against Torture.  
*   *   *
The most absurd case ever brought at Guantánamo, that of the Haspel-supervised torture victim Abt al-Rahim al-Nashiri, has been put on indefinite hold by the presiding military judge, more here.
In a companion nonsense case,  Ahmed Mohammed al-Darbi has been repatriated to Saudi Arabia, having done his duty by grassing up Mr Nashiri in the MV Limburg and USS Cole cases. More here.  
The Limburg bombing involved peacetime piracy against a Panamanian-flagged French tanker in international waters. There's no connection to the US, but the Pentagon's reliable (if shambolic) Court of Military Commission Review reversed the military judge's dismissal of the claims.
The Cole bombing involved Americans, but still no war; even if hostilities had been implicated, the attack would be legal, absent "perfidy". 
All the other USS Cole defendants were successfully convicted in civilian US courts years ago, where Nashiri - now depicted in his military commission as the mastermind and architect of the Cole bombing - was just an "unindicted co-conspirator". He was unavailable for US trial because the CIA was busy torturing him in three countries overseas. Two of them, Poland and Romania, have been ordered by the European Court of Human Rights to pay Nashiri damages for their part in his CIA torture. More here.
Nashiri's ordeal in Thailand was personally supervised by the psychologists Mitchell and Jessen (the CIA has settled a civil suit for damages against them) and by Gina Haspel, the new CIA director.  
Steve Vladeck sorted out the Nashiri mess here and here.
*   *   *
The military commission of Abd al-Hadi is picking-up speed at Guantánamo. Al Hadi is one of the few at Gitmo charged with a real war crime - killing civilians. Many of the other charges seem doubtful in light of his combat status, but a freshly-stacked supreme court may ultimately rewrite international law, the Geneva Conventions and the US constitution to make "conspiracy" and other civilian offences valid tribunal crimes.
The 9/11 defendants are likewise accused of killing civilians, although there wasn't any war underway on September 11, 2001. The military judge in that case got around the lack of hostilities by deferring to the self-serving characterisations of military jurisdiction by congress and the executive.  
*   *   *
In a new global attack on Gitmo detention, a group habeas petition has been brought in DC supported by the human rights law firms Reprieve and the Center for Constitutional Rights. More from Lawfare, HRW's Laura Pitter and Just Security
The case, styled al Hajj v Trump, emphasises Mr Trump's anti-Muslim animus, and is beginning to bear fruit under an Obama-appointed judge. 


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

No surprises here.

So the lunatic is trying to cut off due process rights to individuals who are seeking asylum in my country -- as though seeking asylum is a crime! And now he is trying to hold the children hostage by offering to release the kidnapped kids in return for their parents giving up claims of asylum.

I expect next, in continuing with parallels to Guantanamo, that the republicans will seek legislation barring the asylum seekers from obtaining any damages from these illegal practices.

Read more here.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Living up to his word....

Trump promised he wouldn't release men from Guantanamo- one detainee has been waiting more than a year for a decision from his PRB (periodic review board). This is the board that is supposed to review the men and say whether they can be cleared for release (or not). The board was supposed to meet regularly but in my clients case they only met with him once in the seven years since the PRBs were set up.

The story of this Yemeni detainee captures the intransigence of the Trump administrations position on the remaining men. Read about it here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Razak Ali, 17 years and still counting.

My client, Razak Ali, started his 17th year at Guantanamo yesterday. I don't know why he is one of the few to remain for so long. He has committed no crime. He has never been charged with a crime. He has never been convicted of a crime. Ever. Anywhere.

My country is just holding him because we can -- we are using him as some abstract lesson to unknown others -- like those children my country is holding in cages at our southern boarder -- also being held as some abstract lesson to unknown others.

I am afraid my country has not hit rock bottom yet and that should scare all of us.

Friday, June 15, 2018

6000 days and still counting...

Today marks Guantanamo's 6000th day and there are no signs of our gulag closing anytime soon.
My remaining client, Razak Ali, is one of the 40 men still stuck in this nightmare and he will start his 17th year at the gulag on tuesday. I am at a loss for words.

Maybe next week on his "anniversary" I will find something meaningful to say.
Until then, read:

The talking dog

Andy Worthington

close guantanamo

Shaker Aamer who was finally released in 2015 has these words to say on the 6000th anniversary of the opening of Gitmo:

"Tell Donald Trump:
As long as Guantanamo is open, America will never be great again.
And as long as America is committing injustice, America will never be great again.
And as long as America has military posts all over the world, America will never be great again.
And as long as America is supporting and helping dictators all over the world, America will never be great again."

I think it is fair to say that America will not be great again for a long time....

Monday, June 11, 2018

Preparing Gitmo for the long haul...permanent detention

Last week Carol Rosenberg reported on the military's request for more money for the prison at Guantanamo with a new hospice wing for the elderly because “the mission at Guantanamo is shifting to permanent detention.”

"The U.S. military's mission at Guantánamo is shifting to permanent detention for al-Qaida and other war-on-terror detainees, commanders told reporters this week in a rare public pitch for Congress to fund a new $69 million, wheelchair-accessible prison — complete with a hospice-care cellblock — for the five accused 9/11 plotters and 10 other captives who were in some instances tortured in secret overseas CIA prisons."
Read the whole article here.
Several of us who are representing men still being held have filed new petitions asking for court intervention because of the presidents comments that he will never release anyone. Argument was held in my clients case a few months ago. The Judge for many of the other men who have filed new petitions will hear argument on July 11. I will try to update before then in case any of you want to try to attend.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A look at one of the victims tortured by our new CIA chief ...

According to this U.S. Navy Reserve Doctor one of her victims -- a man held at Guantanamo -- is the most severely traumatized person he has ever seen. This is a doctor who has treated torture victims from around the world. Read what he has to say here.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

It is official... torturer in chief now heads the CIA

Shame on my country. But this is what my country has become over the past few decades and Obama did nothing to stop it when he was president.

So now we have one of the leaders in the torture campaign as the head of the CIA. And don't forget- in addition to torturing individuals that we were interrogating she also destroyed evidence of that torture.

Haspel is a war criminal and she now heads the CIA.

Shame on my country.

Support Political Art....

Ai Weiwei: A 'misfit' in Chicago, a serious artist/activist who likes Instagram and works in Legos

If you find yourself in Chicago in the near future you must go see this exhibit- below is one of the many portraits of activists by Weiwei- all done in legos. It is amazing.
For more on the exhibit click here.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mothers Day

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Haspel hearing today

Marcy Wheeler at emptywheel has been following the hearing today. I am providing links to two of her blog reports.

I will catch up on this in a few days but I will just say that Haspel is what my country has become, in a word....cruel.

Today the senate votes on whether a torturer will be in charge of the CIA

Another dismal day in this country of mine. We don't know all of the illegal things Ms. Haspel has done- we know she was involved in torturing suspects into confessing to crimes they did not do and to crimes they did not know about. We also know she destroyed evidence relating to those torture sessions -- including videos of the torture itself.

One of the men charged at the military commission at Guantanamo asked for permission to explain to the senate what she did to him. It probably will not be allowed but even if it is we will never get to see it.

Read more here.

Thursday, May 3, 2018


I am sure Trump is very sad about the release of Mr. Al-Darbi to Saudi Arabia but the fact of the matter is that Mr. Al-Darbi entered into a plea agreememt years ago and under that agreement he was supposed to be returned to Saudi Arabia earlier this year to serve out the rest of his sentence. The Trump administration was in violation of the agreement.
So, the short answer is "no" we are not seeing a change-- only someone convinced the moron that they had to abide by the court order.
Read more about the release here.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Photos from Guantanamo and beyond...

From Mother Jones.... "These photos plunge you into the inner Madness of Guantanamo"

h/o to Walt.

The future of Guantanamo...

I guess, in theory, we will know what Trump wants to do with our Gulag by the end of today...

Read more here.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

And this news from Witness Against Torture....

Former detainees in Senegal 

deported to Libya

Charlie Savage writes in the NY Times,

 "...a decision this month by Senegal 
to deport two former detainees to their
chaotic birth country of Libya has
 raised the prospect that the resettlement 
system is starting to collapse 
under President Trump. After a traumatic
 journey, the Libyans apparently 
fell into the hands of a hard-line 
 militia leader who has been accused 
of prisoner abuse — and then they 
 vanished."  Read his article here

WAT states: "The U.S. has the obligation

first and foremost to ensure that former
 prisoners are resettled without fear of 
additional retribution, and the decision 
to deport Khalifa back to Libya
 demonstrates a total and utter lack of
 commitment to prisoners it unjustly 
detained and whose lives remain