Saturday, January 25, 2020

The preacher --- US torture style

There were three men authorised by the CIA to carry out waterboarding on detainees in America’s “war on terror”. Two of them were contractors who are in Guantánamo Bay this week to give evidence. The third has still not been identified 17 years after the torture was committed.
In the courtroom of the military commission, the CIA officer was referred to only by three-digit code NZ7, or simply as “the Preacher” – a nickname he was given because of his peculiar way of terrorising detainees.
According to James Mitchell, a psychologist on contract to the CIA who helped draft and apply their “enhanced interrogation techniques”, the Preacher “would at random times put one hand on the forehead of a detainee, raise the other high in the air, and in a deep Southern drawl say things like, ‘Can you feel it, son? Can you feel the spirit moving down my arm, into your body?’”
Read the rest here.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

and speaking of war criminals...

I guess no surprises here.....
however, I was reminded that one of the men recently added to my sleazy president's legal team has quite a history with  war crimes himself..... Patrick Philbin has joined the president's impeachment "team" following his illustrious career in helping John Yoo in his rather incorrect opinion that Guantanamo was outside the jurisdiction of US federal courts.  If that bad advice was not enough he then went on to assist (now appellate judge) Jay Bybee in his notorious torture memo.
As I said, no surprises here.

Psychologists/war criminals to testify

The infamous psychologists James Mitchell and John Jessen will be testifying about the tortured they subjected several of the men at Guantanamo to. These men have already agreed to settle some of the claims against them for their torture. The issue is (or at least one of the issues is....) whether the men who were subjected to torture and provided statements while being tortured should have those statements used against them in proceedings in which they face the death penalty.
Read more here.

h/o to John

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

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

Impeachment and other crimes

What about all the other impeachable offences? ... No immunity for impeachment crimes ... Trump remains unchastened ... Fair elections cauterised by the Supreme Court ... War criminals to the rescue ... Judgeships for ideologues and party hacks ... From Roger Fitch in Washington
"There is a mountain of well-known evidence in the public record ... that the current president is a racist, a coward, a bully, a liar, an ignoramus, a hypocrite, a narcissist, and a fool - in short a very bad guy. Yet by design, the Constitution entrusts an impeachment trial to the Senate, not to a jury selected for its impartiality ... If such Senators are capable of putting aside their longstanding views of the president's character to focus on whether he committed treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanours - as the Constitution assumes they are - then surely they are capable of the much easier task of setting aside any bad-guy inference that propensity evidence might engender." 
- Law Prof Michael Dorf dismissing the danger Trump could be convicted for the wrong reasons. 
There's gangster government in Washington, with a one-man mob taking over a major political party; even so, Donald Trump has received a setback. 
In December, the House of Reps finally confronted - albeit gingerly - the brazen criminality of the US president, a man whose "stench is slowly seeping into every corner of government". 
Remarkably, only two articles of impeachment were adopted, with the Democrat-controlled house impeaching Mr Trump for abuse of power (L'Affaire Ukrainienne) and obstruction of congress. 
There were so many impeachable offences to choose from, a veritable A-to-Z. The articles the house adopted didn't include the Mueller Report findings (e.g. an important obstruction incident), or Trump's response to Russian interference in the 2016 election. Flagrant personal corruption was also missing. 
In a letter to Speaker Pelosi, constitutional lawyers Bruce Fein and Louis Fisher joined Ralph Nader in listing 12 impeachable offences. Just Security noted Trump's pattern of soliciting foreign interference in US elections. The public interest organisation CREW concentrated on five crimes involved in the Ukraine extortion attempts, the basis for the "abuse of power" charge. 
The house impeachment was backed by a 658-page Judiciary Committee report, and also by legal scholars and historians.
The Judiciary Committee produced a memorandum on impeachment law, and one of its lawyer witnesses, Noah Feldman, later elaborated on his testimony, as well as on Donald Trump.
Just before the successful vote on the impeachment articles, Mr Trump sent a bizarre letter to Speaker Pelosi, abusing her and the Democrat House of Representatives for having the effrontery to seek his impeachment. The Washington Post fact-checker had a field-day with Trump's six-pages of persecution mania.  
As Dan Froomkin complained, it still wasn't enough to make the media question Trump's mental state (a few did), but the media did notice the shameful depths reached by Trump's Republican house supporters

Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Talking dog looks at Gitmo at 18

I like to turn to my friend the talking dog on days like this. Read his post here.
And yes, the bottom line is that Guantanamo remains important... as the dog puts it "the symbol of detached power."

Guantanamo is 18 today...

11 January 2020


Growing old in Guantanamo [Short Film]

Today marks 18 years since Guantanamo was opened. Hundreds have been released, but for 40 men, the nightmare is not over.



Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Guantanamo Week of Action January 7-12.....

Plans for panel, concert, and rally during
Guantanamo Week of Action in DC January 7-12:
18 years too many! 

Dear Friends,
Our plans continue to evolve as we prepare for the WAT Fast for Justice and Week of Action in Washington, DC January 7 - 12 to mark 18 outrageous years of Guantanamo Prison.

Click here to see our full schedule for the week. Please RSVP at this link to let us know you're coming.   In order to sustain this work we invite you to make a donation.

We'll gather on Tuesday to begin working together to plan our street actions and advocacy, and we'll wrap up on Sunday with a day of reflection, analysis, and planning for 2020.   Below are details for several major events during the week. 

January 9: Exhibit and Panel

Guantanamo 18 Years Later: Witnessing and Resisting Our Carceral Society

Thursday, January 9, 2020
Exhibit: 5:00pm to 9:00pm
Panel: 7:00pm to 9:00pm
The Festival Center
1640 Columbia Rd NW
Washington, DC 20009

Join the Center for Constitutional Rights, Justice for Muslims Collective, and Witness Against Torture as we mark the 18th anniversary of Guantánamo’s opening and bring the offshore “War on Terror” prison into a larger conversation on resistance within and to the U.S.’ carceral society.
Reflecting on Japanese-American incarceration during WWII, mass incarceration, migrant detention, and the prison at Guantánamo Bay, panelists will explore the criminalization of communities and the state’s use of confinement as a tool of social control. The discussion will center the ways in which prisoners and detainees have resisted their captivity, and how advocates have organized against those systems.
The event is free and open to the public. Dinner will be served. Please RSVP.

The Justice for Muslims Collective poster exhibition, Shattering Justice & Re-Making the Muslim Threat, will be on display beginning at 5:00 pm and throughout the evening.  The artwork and words provide a visual timeline of the ways Muslims have been marginalized, criminalized and dehumanized from 9/11 until now.  

Facebook event page with speaker list.

January 10: Music, Poetry and Political Comedy
Until Justice, We Resist

January 11: Rally at Lafayette Park, 1 pm
Justice Now: Close Guantanamo and End Torture

RSVP at Facebook event page.


Recent news on Guantanamo

CCR press release on Ali v. Trump
Attorneys Urge Court to Change Ground Rules for Guantánamo Cases.
Without Due Process, Detainees Face Detention for Life, Lawyers Warn

AlterNet | Alex Henderson
‘Guantanamo on domestic soil’: The Trump administration is using an obscure provision of the Patriot Act to indefinitely detain a Palestinian man on NDAA:
New Law Will Keep Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility Open at Least Another Year

Andy Worthington on NDAA:
As $738 Billion Defense Bill Is Passed, Guantánamo Prisoners Are Ignored by Congress

Fasting during our week of action

Many activists who come to DC for our week of action will choose to participate in a liquids only fast.  Participation is completely voluntary.  This document explains our fasting rationale and gives fasting tips.  If you would like to join us at home to fast in solidarity, we invite you to let us know at so that we may stay in touch during the week.

We are grateful for your solidarity this month.  Together let's draw attention to the continuing travesty that is Guantanamo.  Justice Now: Close Guantanamo and End Torture!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

So this is 2020...

The 18 th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo is less than two weeks away (January 11).  For the 41 remaining men, one of whom is my client Razak Ali, there is no hope in sight.  Even if Razak were to win his pending appeal the win will ring hollow- it will just mean that he would get another trial with a judge that will never rule in his favor and more years will pass. In the early years Razak would always have a smile on his face. We would discuss with great  intensity the Harry Potter books, both of us laughing at his version of Azkaban.  There is no smile now. There is no laughing. There is only indefinite detention -without any charges ever having been filed against him.