"Time. We can't get it back. When it's gone, it's gone. The families embracing their returning fathers, sons and husbands after 10 months of separation in Connecticut know it. [Released political prisoner] Shaker Aamer and his children -- Faris, Said, Michael and Johina -- meeting almost as strangers after 13 years apart know it too. All those innocent men released from Guantánamo and still struggling to find their footing in strange lands -- and still struggling to heal from severe trauma -- know it too. And so do those 91 men who remain at Guantánamo, while their families wait for them." 

-- Frida Berrigan, WagingNonviolence.org

Clearance by the government is a step in the process of getting released from Guantánamo, and Mr. Hamdoun's clearance is welcome news. However, it is hardly sufficient. Of the 93 men still detained at Guantánamo, 35 are cleared for release, many of them for years. 

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"I have become a body without a soul. I breathe, eat and drink, but I don't belong to the world of living creatures. I rather belong to another world, a world that is buried in a grave called Guantánamo," says Zahir Hamdoun, a Yemeni citizen held without charge in Guantanamo since 2002. "I fall asleep and then wake up to realize that my soul and my thoughts belong to that world I watch on television, or read about in books. That is all I can say about the ordeal I've been enduring." 

The Center for Constitutional Rights is prepared to offer years of long-term support for their client, ranging from "financial assistance and referrals for needs large and small, ranging from live-in interpreters and mental health care, to laptops and language CDs." 

For being cleared to mean anything, it must lead to actual release.

Closing Guantánamo is seen as a legacy issue for Barack Obama. Yet, while the media focuses on the impact his failure to close it will have on Obama's place in history, there is no consideration of the long-term physical and psychological impact almost 15 years of indefinite detention and torture will have on the prisoners. They remain, as always, pawns in other people's power games...

there is no real plan to close Guantánamo or end indefinite detention

Hillary Clinton's hostility towards the International Criminal Court includes support for legislation that would ban U.S. cooperation with the ICC, cut off aid to countries which join it, and authorize the president to use military force to free citizens of the United States or allied countries held by or on behalf of the ICC...

It's not enough, and hardly justice, but identification with detainees' plight inspires redress of U.S. lawlessness.

President John Dramani Mahama urged Ghanaians to welcome Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih al-Dhuby, citizens of Yemen, with compassion: "Let me be clear, people say ex-convicts, they were never tried, they were never charged, and they were never convicted."

Ghana is among 56 countries in the world that have taken about 680 detainees that were transferred from the Guantanamo Bay:

The New York Times and National Public Radio (NPR), reputable leading media organizations in the United States of America have revealed that a total of 203 of them were sent to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia 124, Pakistan 63, Yemen 17, Britain 15, Morocco 13, Kuwait 12, Sudan 12, Tajikistan11, Albania 11, Oman 10, Kazakhstan 9, France 9, Slovakia 8, lraq 7 and Russia 7.

The rest are Georgia 6, Uruguay 6, United Arab Emirates 6, Qatar 6, Palau 6, Bahrain 5, Spain 5, Jordan 5, Bermuda 4, Bosnia and Herzegovina 4, Turkey 4, Germany 3, Somalia 3, Belgium 3, Switzerland 3, Libya 2,Ghana 2, Portugal 2, El Salvador 2, lran 2, and united States 2, Ireland 2, Australia 2, Tunisia 2, ltaly 2, Mauritania 2.

The remaining countries had one each Hungary, Maldives, Bulgaria, Latvia, Canada, Sweden, Egypt, Chad, Estonia and Denmark.

Dear Andy,

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We marched around San Francisco Monday but couldn't find you (photo by Len and Nancy Tsou)!

Your Bay Area friends send their regards, and look forward to hosting an event for your next U.S. tour -- how's that book coming?

'Til then, we'll have settle for video from your New York appearance, and additions to your blog... this year holds promise for the release of illegally held prisoners, and closure, finally, of the hated Guantanamo prison. Let's make it so!

"If a prosecutor can't put together a case against someone who has been sitting in prison for as long as 13 [now 14] years, there is no reason that person should continue to sit in prison, whether in Guantánamo or someplace else." -- American Civil Liberties Union counsel Chris Anders  

The transfer of 10 Yemeni men to the Gulf nation of Oman yesterday leaves fewer than 100 men held at Guantanamo. Fahed Abdullah Ahmad Ghazi, Samir Naji al-Hasan Muqbil, Adham Mohamed Ali Awad, Mukhtar Yahya Naji al-Warafi, Abu Bakr Ibn Muhammad al-Ahdal, Muhammad Salih Husayn al-Shaykh, Muhammad Said Salim Bin Salman, Said Muhammad Salih Hatim, Umar Said Salim al-Dini, and Fahmi Abdallah Ahmad Ubadi al-Tulaqi were "dropped off" in Oman for a "temporary stay." Their ultimate destination is anybody's guess.

We continue to demand Due Process for the remaining prisoners. The late Judge Henry Friendly generated a "required procedures" list that remains highly influential:

 1. An unbiased tribunal. 
 2. Notice of the proposed action and the grounds asserted for it.
 3. Opportunity to present reasons why the proposed action should not be taken.
 4. The right to present evidence, including the right to call witnesses.
 5. The right to know opposing evidence.
 6. The right to cross-examine adverse witnesses.
 7. A decision based exclusively on the evidence presented.
 8. Opportunity to be represented by counsel.
 9. Requirement that the tribunal prepare a record of the evidence presented.
10. Requirement that the tribunal prepare written findings of fact and reasons for its decision.

The civilian "tribunals" mentioned above should not be confused with the military tribunals authorized by the Military Commissions Act of 2006 as an alternative to trying detainees in the regular court system. Wikipedia makes the distinction:

The United States has two parallel justice systems, with laws, statutes, precedents, rules of evidence, and paths for appeal. Under these justice systems, prisoners have certain rights. They have a right to know the evidence against them; they have a right to protect themselves against self-incrimination; they have a right to counsel; and they have a right to have the witnesses against them cross-examined.

The two parallel justice systems are the Judicial Branch of the U.S. Government, and a slightly streamlined justice system named the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) for people under military jurisdiction. People undergoing a military court martial are entitled to the same basic rights as those in the civilian justice system.

The Guantanamo military trials under the 2006 MCA do not operate according to either system of justice.

Further, because the accused are charged as unlawful combatants (a certain category of people who are not classified as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions), then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said in March 2002 that an acquittal on all charges by the commission is no guarantee of a release.

Indeed, President Obama's authorization for Periodic Review Boards to determine the fate of Guantanamo prisoners has created what The Washington Post describes a formal system of indefinite detention, "The Tragedy At The Heart of Guantánamo."

No Excuses

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"Blame for Obama's failure to follow through on one of his first acts in office and close this most reprehensible of prisons, the president would say, lies not with him but with Congress, whose bills preventing Guantanamo's closure he continues to sign," writes Charles Davis, teleSUR. 

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"Far from altering course, Obama's legacy will be his institutionalizing the national security approach of his predecessor, albeit those of his second term, normalizing that which leading members of his Democratic Party once cast as an obscene break with an idealized past. His biggest change has been replacing boots on the ground with drones [in] the sky, in keeping with the establishment consensus following the disaster that was the last US-led invasion. That has resulted in less men being tortured and detained at Guantanamo, to be sure, but only because they, their children and any 'military-age' bystanders are now dead."

Obama Never Had a Plan to End What Guantánamo Represents



On Monday January 11, the 14th anniversary of the opening of the U.S. prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, a group of people in orange jumpsuits representing the Guantanamo prisoners will walk thru busy downtown San Francisco. People walking alongside them will explain our message with words and flyers to those we meet. This is about bearing witness AND engaging many more people to challenge and change what they think about this horrible crime of torture and indefinite detention. 

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MONDAY, JANUARY 11   
1:30 PM - 4:00 PM
MEET UP at McKesson (BART) Plaza, MARKET & MONTGOMERY    
Look for signs and people in orange jumpsuits
We'll make several stops en route to City Hall

As this illegal, immoral prison enters its 15th year, with 103 men still behind its bars, protests demanding CLOSE GUANTANAMO NOW! will hit the streets in D.C., Miami, New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco. World Can't Wait is joining together with other movements and organizations to make these actions happen and we urgently welcome you to join us.

Under two U.S. presidents -- and now about to be handed over to a third -- what has been going on at Guantanamo is an insult to humanity. And although what 779 prisoners have experienced there is no secret (indefinite detention, brutal torture, and the total trashing of due process and any semblance of legality), Guantanamo is not supposed to be a topic of conversation in polite society generally, or in the current discourse about the 2016 presidential elections in particular. But that just means that it's on us, the impolite activists, journalists and writers, human rights and legal fighters, to speak up. It is on us who reject the thundering silence of complicity, to keep exposing the facts and demanding an end to the torture which is a war crime, and a crime against humanity.
 
Think about this: we have been shouting for justice for years. But it was the prisoners themselves, through their heroic and collective hunger strike, who two years ago forced Obama to break his silence, acknowledge that Guantanamo is illegitimate, and place blame on Congressional opposition to close Guantanamo. Excuses aside, this President has the authority as commander-in-chief to close the prison. 
 
But whether the powerful abide by law or not, there is still a more fundamental question of right and wrong. The Guantanamo prisoners have for years done all they could to put their plight before the world. Now, who will stand with them, who will ensure their voices are not silenced?

And there's more to the need for January's actions than just marking the anniversary. Current events have led to a situation where "protecting America against terrorism" has taken new wind into its sails. The "keeping Americans safe" mythology being spun to legitimize and to suck people into supporting every new Big Brother measure that intensifies political surveillance and repression -- and makes Muslims, immigrants, and others unworthy of rights and respect -- is an ugly, fraudulent and dangerous sinkhole. If no one challenges this atmosphere, where will it all go?   

If your organization can endorse the action that's welcome (please reply to this email to affirm the endorsement). But what we most want and need is for many groups to send two or more people to take part in the action (walk with us). PLEASE RSVP. 

You are welcome to publicize this action, to bring your own flyers for handout and your own signs, and to issue your own press releases. In any of that, please acknowledge action sponsors: World Can't Wait, Code Pink, Occupy SF Action Council, School of the Americas Watch West, Cindy Sheehan, and The Nuclear Resister.

"I Didn't Know You"

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In a police-shooting case, the only perspective that matters is that of the officer who pulls the trigger...

A Year of Unreasonable Fears

"If you believe the American values of liberty and justice for all trump all--if you believe in the very things that make our experiment in democracy transcendent and unprecedented--then it might be time to consider the true American values that carry a value beyond all measurement," writes Michael Conniff, The Isaacson School for New Media.

Sounds great! Where do I sign up? 

Conniff would direct you to the Killer Drones Party, home of Indefensible Detention and sponsor to Warrantless Surveillance In Service To National Insecurity. Aspirants to the Democratic Party throne balance the price of American well-being against the "threshold for collateral damage" (number of dead civilians). Subscription to "lesser of two evils" policy enables selective, unchallenged assassination by executive decree. Political calculation stalls closure of the U.S. torture camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 

U.S. hegemony holds humanity hostage.

"Nowadays, anyone who wishes to combat lies and ignorance and to write the truth must overcome at least five difficulties. He must have the courage to write the truth when truth is everywhere opposed; the keenness to recognize it, although it is everywhere concealed; the skill to manipulate it as a weapon; the judgment to select those in whose hands it will be effective; and the cunning to spread the truth among such persons." -- Bertolt Brecht

"War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength," sloganed George Orwell. The disconnect between myth of an empire of "Great Goodness" and the reality of endless war beggars a challenge to Obama's "Burden"Is the reason we don't care arrogance? Ignorance? Or just simple Racism? I don't know, but it sure isn't because of intelligence and knowledge. 

One Step Closer to Justice

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Friday, in a case brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the Second Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reconsider a historic ruling by a three-judge panel that high-level former Bush administration officials may be sued for their roles in the post-9/11 immigration detentions, abuse, and religious profiling of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian men. The former officials named in the case, Turkmen v. Ashcroft, are Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI director Robert Mueller, and INS Commissioner James Ziglar. Six judges voted to rehear the case, and six voted to let the decision stand; a majority is required to rehear a case...

Appeals Court Stands By Decision to Allow Lawsuit Against Bush Officials

The United States has a long and torrid history of backing terrorist groups... In order to understand why the Islamic State has grown and flourished so quickly, one has to take a look at the organization's American-backed roots...

Made-in-the-USA

The $607 billion defense policy bill Barack Obama signed (despite "serious reservations") on November 25, 2015 authorizes indefinite isolation, torture, and show trials; provisions characteristic of a fascist state.

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"A hallmark of totalitarianism is the creation of a prison system outside the rule of law that is largely designed to imprison and torture one minority group. The Guantanamo Bay gulag is unquestionably a crime against humanity. There is unlimited cruelty in a system that seems to be unable to free the innocent and unable to punish the guilty." 

-- Garikai Chengu, The Rise of the American-Muslim Totalitarian State

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ON THE LAW OF TORTURE...

The President's Executioner

Detention and torture in Guantanamo





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