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