Category Archives: Guantanamo

Ungood. Double-Plus Ungood

Obama Justice Department Urges Dismissal of Another Torture Case

In another move that suggests the Obama Department of Justice is not making many big policy breaks with its predecessor when it comes to the legal rights of Guantanamo Bay detainees, the department filed a brief renewing the government's motion to dismiss the case of Rasul v. Rumsfeld.

According to their legal complaint, Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed claim they traveled to Afghanistan in October 2001 to offer humanitarian relief to civilians. In late November, they were kidnapped by Rashid Dostum, the Uzbeki warlord and leader of the U.S.-supported Northern Alliance. He turned them over to U.S. custody — apparently for bounty money that American officials were paying for suspected terrorists. In December, without any independent evidence that the men had engaged in hostilities against the United States, U.S. officials sent them to Guantanamo Bay. Over the next two years, they claim — as does a fourth British man — that they were imprisoned in cages, tortured and humiliated, forced to shave their beards and watch their Korans desecrated, until they were returned to Britain in 2004. None were ever charged with a crime.

Today, the Justice Department filed a brief arguing, as it did in Padilla’s case against Yoo, that government officials are not liable for torture, abuse, denial of due process or religious rights, because the right of Guantanamo prisoners not to suffer those abuses at the hands of the U.S. government was not clearly established at the time.

That would seem to contradict previous statements by President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder that torture and other abuses are clearly illegal, now and always.

Yuk.

Posted in Guantanamo, Torture | 9 Comments

Petition for a US Truth Commission

The Bush Truth Commission web site, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy, invites you to sign their online petition.

Some background at Kos.

Posted in Guantanamo, Politics: US: GW Bush Scandals, Torture | Leave a comment

The Incompetence of Evil

Gitmo: There Are No Files.

The Bush people told us over and over that the people held at Gitmo were super-dangerous. That's why they couldn't release them, or even try them in the US. (Judges who reviewed selected cases in the main didn't agree, but put that aside.)

Now we learn the farcical basis on which decisions to hold people were being made:

“President Obama's plans to expeditiously determine the fates of about 245 terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and quickly close the military prison there were set back last week when incoming legal and national security officials — barred until the inauguration from examining classified material on the detainees — discovered that there were no comprehensive case files on many of them.

Instead, they found that information on individual prisoners is “scattered throughout the executive branch,” a senior administration official said. The executive order Obama signed Thursday orders the prison closed within one year, and a Cabinet-level panel named to review each case separately will have to spend its initial weeks and perhaps months scouring the corners of the federal government in search of relevant material.

Several former Bush administration officials agreed that the files are incomplete and that no single government entity was charged with pulling together all the facts and the range of options for each prisoner.

Beyond my darkest imaginings.

Posted in Guantanamo | 2 Comments

Gitmo Today

gitmo-today.jpg

A day late, but even so…

And, more importantly, here are four executive orders signed today.

These are major, major, welcome developments.

Only sour note: Adm. Dennis Blair can't bring himself to call waterboarding “torture”. [Link improved]

Posted in Guantanamo | 7 Comments

Whitehouse.gov Doesn’t Like My Privacy Settings and Has Nothing on Guantanamo

Odd thing: when I go to Whitehouse.gov and allow Flash, the site complains about my privacy settings.

Click for a larger image.
Click for a larger image.

The error message says,

The page did not process successfully because of the following:
• Field 'Email' is invalid
• Field 'Zip Code' is empty

Second odd thing: I wanted the full text of the order postponing trials at Guantanamo, the one that caused the following motion to be filed in Guantanamo,

In order to permit the newly inaugurated President and his administration time to review the military commission process, generally, and the cases currently pending before the military commissions, specifically, the Secretary of Defense has, by order of the President directed the chief prosecutor to seek continuances of 120 days in all pending case.

The Secretary of the Defense issued his order to the Chief Prosecutor in order to provide the administration sufficient time to conduct a review of detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to evaluate the cases of detainees not approved for release or transfer to determine whether prosecution may be warranted for any offenses those detainees may have committed, and to determine which forum best suits any future prosecution.

But when I search for “Guantanamo” at whitehouse.gov I get … nothing.

Posted in Guantanamo, Internet | 1 Comment

Text of Judge Leon’s Remarks in Guantanamo Habeas Case

Thanks to SCOTUSblog, we have Documents on Boumediene detainee ruling including a full transcript of the remarks by Judge Leon, that I mentioned previously (Judge Grants Writ of Habeas Corpus for 5 out of 6 Gantanamo Detainees)

Here's the key excerpt from the transcript, significantly reformatted for easier reading:

Now, I want to raise a note of caution to those who may be listening or to those who will read my ruling. This is a unique case. Few, if any others, will be factually like it. Few, if any others, will be factually like it. Nobody should be lulled into a false sense that all of the Government's cases will look like and be like this one. If there is any lesson that the parties and the Court have learned, these cases are unique and the habeas process must be flexible.

The practical effect of the Supreme Court's decision to superimpose the habeas process into the world of intelligence gathering is to create a virtually limitless complex of novel and difficult questions. As a result, the precedential value, if any, should be and is — should be and is limited to these cases.

One last point I would like to make.

The Court appreciates fully that the Government has a right to appeal its decision as to these five detainees whose petitions I have granted. I have a right, too, to appeal to the senior-most leadership at the Department of Justice, Department of Defense, and the CIA and other intelligence agencies. My appeal to them is to strongly urge them to take a hard look at the evidence, both presented and lacking, as to these five detainees. Seven years of waiting for our legal system to give them an answer to a question so important, in my judgment, is more than plenty.

The appellate process for these five detainees would, at a minimum, constitute another 18 months to two years of their lives. It seems to me that there comes a time when the desire to resolve novel, legal questions and decisions which are not binding on my colleagues pales in comparison to effecting a just result based on the state of the record.

Detainees' counsel will undoubtedly file an appeal with regard to my decision denying Mr. Bensayah's petition. That appeal will provide more than enough opportunity for both sides to challenge the novel, legal rulings that this Court has had to make.

I appeal to the senior leadership of those agencies to bring to an end this process as to these five detainees. We will stand in recess.

Strong stuff.

Posted in Guantanamo | 1 Comment

Judge Grants Writ of Habeas Corpus for 5 out of 6 Gantanamo Detainees

Judge Orders Five Detainees Freed From Guantánamo

In the first hearing on the government's justification for holding detainees at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, a federal judge ruled Thursday that five Algerian men were held unlawfully for nearly seven years and ordered their release.

Judge Leon, in a ruling from the bench, said that the information gathered on the men had been sufficient to hold them for intelligence purposes, but was not strong enough in court.

“To rest on so thin a reed would be inconsistent with this court’s obligation,” he said. He directed that the five men be released “forthwith” and urged the government not to appeal.

Judge Leon, who was appointed by President Bush, had been expected to be sympathetic to the government. In 2005, he ruled that the men had no habeas corpus rights.

I gather from people who were there that the Judge was fairly impassioned in his request to the government lawyers to let this case drop. That's really unusual, and suggests that they really had no case.

Judge Leon has issued an opinion (warning: 3.1 MB scanned .pdf), which skirts the actual evidence for security reasons, but is still good reading.

This is a historic moment — the rule of law grinds slowly, but maybe it's got some life in it yet.

Posted in Guantanamo | 4 Comments