I hear the war in Afghanistan is over. 

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This war was supposedly the reason I remained trapped, rotting in this endless horror at Guantanamo Bay. I write this letter today to ask, if this war has ended, why am I still here? Why has nothing changed?

Amid falling bombs and mass hysteria, I fled Afghanistan for safety when the US launched its military operations in 2001. I was abducted despite never fighting against the United States, was sold into US military custody, and then imprisoned, tortured, and abused at Guantanamo since 2002 without ever being charged with a single crime.

I protest this injustice by hunger striking, refusing food and sometimes water.One of Guantanamo's long-term hunger strikers, I am a frail man now, weighing only 96 pounds (44kg) at 5'5" (1.68m).

Recently, my latest strike surpassed its second year. My health is deteriorating rapidly, but my intention to continue my strike is steadfast. I do not want to kill myself. My religion prohibits suicide. But despite daily bouts of violent vomiting and sharp pain, I will not eat or drink to peacefully protest against the injustice of this place. My protest is the one form of control I have of my own life and I vow to continue it until I am free.

I remain on lockdown alone in my cell 22 hours a day. Despite my condition, prison authorities unleash an entire riot squad of six giant guards to forcibly extract me from my cell, restrain me onto a chair and brutally force-feed me daily. They push a thick tube down my nose until I bleed, after which I vomit.

This gruesome procedure may not be written about so much any more, but it remains my everyday reality. It is painful. And it is bewildering. How can I possibly resist anyone, let alone these men? Hunger striking is a form of peaceful and civil disobedience. It is not a crime. So why am I being punished? Why not humanely tube-feed me instead?

My time here has been ridden with unanswered questions. Two years ago, as I attempted to pray, a sudden raid was ordered and a guard deliberately shot me without warning or provocation. Once again, I was not resisting. So why did he shoot? My clothes, torn, were soaked in my own blood. I want the government to ask the guard who shot me to account for his actions.

I began to wonder if shooting without any provocation is legal in the US. But now I realise that US police officers get away with ruthlessly killing black people all the time.

I wonder now if the US follows any rule of law at all: the Geneva Conventions or even its own Constitution. Where is the freedom and justice for all that it so proudly boasts to the world?

For us at Guantanamo, this place is not fit for any living, breathing, human being. The US seems to want to smother us, to kill us slowly as we are left in a vacuum of uncertainty wondering if we will ever be free.

I have lived the past 13 years in this despair, at the cost of my dignity, paying the price for the US government's political theatre. Meanwhile, little has changed for the 122 men remaining at Guantanamo.

The world may turn a blind eye and find this number small. But for each of us here, the cost of our indefinite and unfair imprisonment is beyond immeasurable. Our families have lost fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons to this hell on earth. Many of us have unnecessarily lost over a decade of our already short time in this world, yearning to be free again.

Moath Hamza Ahmed al Alwi

ACLU's Jamil Dakwar marks the date with a call for independent criminal investigation of the U.S. torture program:

..100 organizations from around the world delivered a statement [Wednesday] to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva calling for accountability for the CIA torture program and reparations to its victims. In September the council will adopt a report on the United States' human rights record as part of the Universal Periodic Review process. The statement urges the council to demand that the United States "take measures to meet the full spectrum of its obligations under international law to ensure accountability, transparency, reparations and non-repetition, including declassification of the full Senate report on the CIA detention program, independent comprehensive criminal investigation, and the issuing of apologies and compensation to victims."

see Accountability for CIA Torture

No Human Right to War

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Instead of arguing for alternatives that might not involve military force, U.S. humanitarian lawyers discuss the appropriate degree of transparency and the legal procedure for lethal violence. Those issues aren't negligible but they are secondary to considerations of prudence and morality, first-order questions that legalistic approaches to warfare obscure...

Short Cut to Assassination by Drone



photo: Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, former director of Harvard's Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy and self-described "genocide chick" for advocating military intervention in Libya and Syria.


Senate Votes on Torture

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"Perhaps the [prohibition on torture] amendment would be unnecessary if Obama would've pursued criminal charges against the architects of the torture program, as an international treaty signed by Ronald Reagan and ratified by the U.S. Senate required him to do." -- Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

Indeed.

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The alleged Al Qaeda operative (it turns out that he wasn't even a member) lost his left eye while in CIA custody, sometime between 2002 and 2006. As of today he has suffered the Guantanamo torture camp for eight years nine months.   

His attorney Brent Mickum says "there is absolutely no question that on the night he was captured he had two completely functional eyes.'' A CIA spokesman claims a pre-existing condition caused the eye to "disintegrate" on its own. But eighty-three waterboardings (Zubaydah was the first suspect officially subjected to "enhanced interrogation techniques") didn't help.

John Yoo's 2003 memo determined that to put out or destroy an eye could be legal as long as no specific intent to cause the prisoner severe pain could be proved. "It is an unconscionable document" says law professor Dawn Johnsen. 

CIA videotapes of Zubaydah's interrogation were destroyed. But the physician from Johns Hopkins University who treated Abu Zubaydah could shed some light on what happened.

A new report published in the New England Journal of Medicine today explores the dynamics of lawyer/physician collaboration in torture, and the mutual culpability the professions share:

Medical professionals, primarily private contractors, filled four basic roles at the black sites: clearing terrorist suspects as "medically fit" for torture; monitoring torture to prevent death and treat injuries; developing novel torture methods; and actually torturing prisoners. All these actions were taken only after CIA and U.S. Department of Justice attorneys assured the medical professionals that they had immunity from prosecution and would not be held legally responsible for violating U.S. and international law against torture as long as they used the techniques approved in legal memos (since withdrawn) written to justify their actions. Lawyers agreed to provide immunity assurances that specific torture techniques were legal "enhanced interrogation" methods only if the physicians assured them that they would be present to prevent permanent harm to prisoners.

The report concludes that the question raised by the the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's report on torture of whether torture "works"  -- like whether slavery "works" -- is simply the wrong question, and admonishes all parties to observe ethical practice.
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UC Berkeley professor Stuart Russell warns that automated weapons systems "could violate fundamental principles of human dignity by allowing machines to choose whom to kill," and calls on his colleagues to take a stand -- in a recent op-ed piece for the science journal Nature.

"It's a very easy step to go from remotely piloted drones to fully autonomous weapons," Russell says. "The AI [artificial intelligence] community may be too late. We might decide that we don't like our technology being used to kill people, but we may not have a say in it."

see Beyond drone warfare

Restoration of livelihood to the wrongfully detained is an obligation that can't be rescinded.The deal foisted on Guantanamo refugees in Uruguay fails to provide stability for the men released. Objections to terms of that agreement are maligned for discouraging sponsorship by other countries. Turning the finger of blame on to victims whose lives it has destroyed sets the bar even lower in how far the US will go to cover up its crimes against humanity.

Dean Sujit Choudhry could make that permanent... will he? 

Mario Ivan's photo.
2015 law school commencement photo c/o Mario Ivan
 

FOIA Documents Reveal a John Yoo Unwilling to Address Torture Report

FRONTLINE filmmaker Michael Kirk tells the dramatic story of the fight over the CIA's controversial interrogation methods, widely criticized as torture. Based on recently declassified documents and interviews with key political leaders and CIA insiders, the film investigates what the CIA did -- and whether it worked.


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Universal Music Enterprises announced Monday in Los Angeles that the venerable musician will release two new songs, one called "Guantánamo," in his 17-track album of mostly remastered solo work coming out June 30...

"Down in Guantánamo, we still got the ball and chain," goes the refrain.

-- Carol Rosenberg, miamiherald.com

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/guantanamo/article21320193.html#storylink=cpy

Berkeley Law Shelters a War Criminal: Indict John Yoo

Friday May 15

Berkeley Law Commencement

Hearst Greek Theatre

8:00 am sharp, to be in place for arrival of Processional; Ceremony begins at 9:00 

John Yoo was a UC Berkeley Law professor when he took a leave of absence to accept a position in the Bush Department of Justice. He was the principal legal author of justification for the torture program exposed to the world thru Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Employing a dangerous philosophy of exceptionalism -- that American lives are worth more than other people's lives -- Yoo provided advice and cover for illegal policies inherited and embraced by President Obama. 

Last week's international conference, Reflections on the Legacy of Nuremberg, sponsored by the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies and the Center for Jewish Studies provided an excellent venue to protest the University of California's advancement of state torture policy. World Can't Wait activists were on hand to demand accountability for John Yoo -- and his enablers.

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A university that allows a war criminal to teach constitutional and international law courses to the next generation of lawyers and judges under prejudice of "academic freedom" is protecting war crimes. There is historical precedent for prosecuting Berkeley Law's resident torture advocate. 

In the case U.S. v. Altstoetter, judges, prosecutors, and Ministry of Justice officials who had served the Nazi regime were charged, tried, and convicted of war crimes because their "legal" work enabled the Nazis to carry out the Holocaust under color of law. Recall the role of Adolf Eichmann, sometimes referred to as "the architect of the Holocaust" because he facilitated and managed the logistics of mass deportations of Jews and others to the Nazi extermination camps. His bureaucratic role was critical to the death of millions in the Holocaust

John Yoo utilized his employment in the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush regime to promote crimes of torture, massive surveillance, unlawful and indefinite detention, and war. As a direct result of Yoo's legal memos thousands have been subjected to torture, tens of thousands incarcerated, tens of millions spied upon, and a million have died in U.S. imperialist wars. Without the provision of "legal cover" many of these crimes would not have been possible.

End the Silence.

Say NO to normalization of war crimes.

Fire, Disbar and Prosecute John Yoo and ALL the Torture Lawyers.

Adding to the disturbing nature of the CIA's ability to kill people in complete secrecy, the agency apparently now has a carte blanche to conduct drone strikes on its own. According to the New York Times, President Obama doesn't individually approve them anymore - he lets the CIA unilaterally decide to kill people if the strikes "fit certain criteria." We have no idea what those conditions are since virtually everything about drone strikes at the CIA is secret... 

Contrary to its constitutionally-protected requirement towards respecting of human rights, the United States has been internationally criticized for its violation of human rights, including denying access to basic healthcare, the least protections for workers of any Western country, the return of imprisoning people for debtshutting off water to impoverished citizens who cannot afford it, deprivation of housing and criminalization of homelessness and poverty, invading the privacy of its citizens through surveillance programsinstitutional racism, gender discrimination, police brutalitythe incarceration of citizens for profit, the mistreatment of prisoners and juveniles in the prison system, crackdowns on peaceful protesters, the continued support for foreign dictators who commit abuses (including genocide) against their own people, unconstitutional denial of voting rights of certain races or political affiliations, and the illegal detainment and torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

Switch Off the T.P.A.

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Important Reading

Physicians for Human Rights
Broken Laws, Broken Lives

NLG White Paper
ON THE LAW OF TORTURE...

The President's Executioner

Detention and torture in Guantanamo





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