Friday, September 27, 2019

In Other Gitmo News......

Remember Omar Khadr? The 15 year old canadian kid that was tortured and held at Guantanamo until finally released in 2015? Well he is still trying to have his appeal heard by the military. His attorney finally filed in federal court and the DC Circuit has ordered the military to respond. As usually happens with the military they take baby steps when pushed. The military has now appointed a panel to hear his appeal. Read the rest here.

The (IMHO) notorious Col. Bogdan has landed a cushy job at UNC Charlotte as Vice Chancellor for Safety and Security. That must make the students and faculty feel safe! Read more here.

The periodic review boards have been doing their thing.... which is nothing. More here.

And of course secrecy is still the name of the game with all things Guantanamo, even after more than seventeen years. Read more here.

From Roger Fitch and our friends down under at Justinian

As everyone knows, the Guantánamo internment camp is a colossal waste of public money, at a cost of $13 million a year per prisoner. Sadly, the people who facilitated it remain unpunished. Seventeen years after the shocking Yoo-Bybee "torture memo", its authors are still enjoying comfortable positions as a tenured Berkeley law professor, and 9th circuit justice, respectively, while their partner in crime, Gina Haspel, has been made CIA director and sanitised by the Wall Street Journal, which often prints John Yoo op-eds.
The results of their gruesome handiwork continue to seep out: declassified CIA cables obtained by the Intercept cast new light on the torture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the lead defendant in the Pentagon's 9/11 commission. An FBI agent is testifying about CIA "black site" procedures in the related al Baluchi case.
The 9th circuit has meanwhile ruled in a case brought by Abu Zubaydah, a Guantánamo prisoner and the first person subjected to George Bush's "enhanced interrogation". The court held that Zubaydah's ordeal at the CIA's black site in Poland was not entitled to protection as a state secret, paving the way for his lawyers to question the men who designed the torture, i.e. James Mitchell (see below) and Bruce Jessen. Both men have settled civil damages claims in a law suit indemnified by the CIA. 
The 9th circuit called Zubaydah's treatment "torture", but the Pentagon prefers other words for the "tendency to deviate from ethical standards under the pressure of circumstances and in the absence of external oversight". 
In a new directive it's called "behavioural drift", unethical or abusive behaviour "commonly observed in detention and other settings in which individuals have control or power over others' activities of daily living or general functioning".
*   *   *
Waterboard display at the International Spy Museum
Washington has a tasteless new Spy Museum, and two CIA ruffians, the contract "psychologist" James Mitchell and interrogation-tape destroyer José Rodriguez, have contributed audiovisuals for the museum's popular Guantánamo exhibit, to provide a "balanced" view of the CIA's  at times controversial aggressive debriefings.
The museum's exhibits include demonstration water-boards and a mock-up of the house where Osama bin Laden met his extrajudicial end
It's an upbeat American foil to Lithuania's grim "KGB museum", with its Soviet torture exhibit; Donald Rumsfeld made a solemn pilgrimage there in October 2005, as the CIA tormented Abu Zubaydah nearby.
Postscript:  Donald Trump has nominated an actual torture proponent to lead US human rights policy.


Tuesday, September 24, 2019


h/o to Rayne

Friday, September 20, 2019




Jody Thomas's mural of Greta Thunberg, located on a wall in Bristol, England.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The disappearing constitution....

Welcome to September 17th -- Constitution Day here in the good ole U S of A.

Our Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787. ... of course it was another few years before the Bill of Rights was formally added to our constituion (December 15, 1791). Perhaps that is the day we really should celebrate (although those rights are disappearing too and for too many those rights never really existed).

Anyway, back to the disappearing part -- one of the supposed hallmarks of our constitution was the notion of three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial) that would "check" and "balance" each other.

Ha. In recent years we have had an executive running the show with both the legistative --- and to a large part the judiciary -- asleep at the wheel. I am not just talking about the Trump administration either and I am not just talking about republicans... although Trump does lead the pack with his executive actions and the republicans in congress have no interest in doing anything but appeasing him. However, this has been a problem for decades and the Obama administration did nothing to stem the tide. Absolutely nothing.

So on this constitution day I ask you to put your fuckin flags away, pick up the constitution (and the bill of rights) read both documents- and start demanding that this country start abiding by those principles.  It would be a start anyway!

$13 million per prisoner....

According to Carol Rosenberg at the New York Times that is the cost of running Guantanamo....

GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — Holding the Nazi war criminal Rudolf Hess as the lone prisoner in Germany’s Spandau Prison in 1985 cost an estimated $1.5 million in today’s dollars. The per-prisoner bill in 2012 at the “supermax” facility in Colorado, home to some of the highest-risk prisoners in the United States, was $78,000.
Then there is Guantánamo Bay, where the expense now works out to about $13 million for each of the 40 prisoners being held there.
According to a tally by The New York Times, the total cost last year of holding the prisoners — including the men accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — paying for the troops who guard them, running the war court and doing related construction, exceeded $540 million.
The $13 million per prisoner cost almost certainly makes Guantánamo the world’s most expensive detention program. And nearly 18 years after the George W. Bush administration took a crude compound called Camp X-Ray and hastily established it as a holding station for enemy fighters picked up in the war on terrorism, it has taken on a sprawling and permanent feel, with the expense most likely to continue far into the future.

Read the rest here.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Never forget the torture...

Intercept has a new report on the FBI's involvement in the torture program from the get-go.
Read it here.
They also have links to thirteen newly declassified documents related to the torture of Khalid Sheik Mohammad. Link is here.

Musical Interlude....

The WHO singing about Guantanamo...

Thursday, September 12, 2019

9-12 (on time) Lest we forget....

9-11 (a day late...)

On September 11th I always turn my eyes to my friend the talking dog. Who, unlike me, was actually in New York City on that day--- and within a block or so of the twin towers. This year technical problems got in the way of posting yesterday.... so with no more ado here is the talking dog.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

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

At Guantánamo, a new "9/11" judge has been considering issues such as:
Meanwhile, a lawyer for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri has been unexpectedly passed over for promotion by the Pentagon, possibly for too-vigorous representation of his client.  
The Nashiri case - probably the most lawless of all the commissions - is receiving attention in a new film about the CIA torture program; Nashiri was one of the program's first victims and received the personal attention of the former Thai torture camp commandant - now CIA director - Gina Haspel. 
And finally: it's a bit late in the day, but an Obama-bolstered DC circuit panel has brought back full habeas for Guantánamo internees, more here
Read the rest of Fitch here.