This January 11th, 2020 will mark the 18th year anniversary of Guantanamo's opening in the War on Terror in 2002. Witness Against Torture will join other human rights organization in once again calling attention to the brutality of the prison, including indefinite detention and for an end to any and all uses of torture.

Freed at Last

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Three Afghans sent to Guantanamo in 2002 and 2003 are finally home

Hamidullah, who has been freed after 16 years in detention in Afghanistan, Guantanamo and the UAE, is finally home in Kabul. Two other Afghans sent to the UAE, Obaidullah and Mohammed Kamin, both from Khost, have also been released and allowed to return to their families. (Photo: The New York Times'

Hamidullah, who has been freed after 16 years in detention in Afghanistan, Guantanamo and the UAE, is finally home in Kabul. Two other Afghans sent to the UAE, Obaidullah and Mohammed Kamin, both from Khost, have also been released and allowed to return to their families. (Photo: The New York Times' "Guantanamo Docket")

Drawings done in captivity by the first prisoner known to undergo "enhanced interrogation" portray his account of what happened to him in vivid and disturbing ways.

Abu Zubaydah suffers indefinite detention -- in itself a form of torture -- while the architect of American torture techniques, the subject of drawings published by the New York Times, enjoys University of California protection from prosecution for his crimes. The most protested professor in the legal academy also finds refuge at Stanford's Hoover Institution.  

Everyone else can catch the movie.

Ahmed Rabbani is from Karachi, Pakistan. He has been detained in Guantanamo Bay for more than 15 years.

"Trump has, time and again, called the handful of American soldiers convicted by military courts of war crimes 'heroes'," notes Sasha Abramsky at Truthout. "These include Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, who is standing trial for thrill-killing civilians in Iraq; Nicholas Slatten, a Blackwater contractor found guilty in 2007 of killing numerous Iraqi civilians; Green Beret Mathew Golsteyn, who stands accused of killing an unarmed Afghan man; and several Marine Corps snipers accused of urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters."

The legal theories which vest the President with literally unlimited power remain largely in place -- including pardoning U.S. military personnel convicted of, or standing trial for, war crimes -- with no small thanks to the legitimacy afforded torture advocate John Yoo by media institutions and UC Berkeley Law. 

In a 2006 memoir of his government service, entitled War by Other Means, the professor promulgated that a president could take a number of steps so that people criminally charged with allegedly torturing prisoners would go free:

"There are ways that the legal system could develop effective approaches toward coercive interrogation. A president could decline to prosecute an officer whom he believed properly acted in self-defense or in an emergency, or out of necessity.  A President could pardon those involved.  Even if a prosecution occurs, a jury must find that that the defense is not met, and convict the agents and his superiors of violating the law.  It would require the only juror to agree that it was reasonable for the defendants to believe the coercive interrogation would yield information that would save lives, and that it would be necessary under the circumstances, to prevent the conviction."

The general framework on which John Yoo's infamous "torture memo" rests is one under which we continue to live under the fascist regime of Trump/Pence; the "twisted" notion that the president's DOJ has the authority to immunize government officials or private actors from the reach of the law is a recipe for inevitable lawlessness, wrote former Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald on release of the document.

While prospective pardons failed to materialize on Memorial Day (facing a barrage of criticism from military top brass, he pulled back), Trump's pardons are expected to be resurrected and "dangled as red meat" before the MAGA crowd. Abramsky concludes that "Trump's glorification of violence and knee-jerk defense of people such as Gallagher are part of a much bigger pattern. Over the past four years Trump has stated that he believes American soldiers ought to be able to torture terrorism suspects, kill the families of terrorists and use such methods as dipping bullets in pigs' blood before firing them at Muslim fighters as a way of humiliating them. In other words, Trump has repeatedly advocated the carrying out of war crimes by American military personnel. 

"Have we learned nothing from the past?"

As chief lawyer, U.S. state department adviser Jennifer Newstead will be able to approve or deny extrajudicial "national security letters," thousands of which are fielded by Facebook every year. 

"Jennifer is a seasoned leader whose global perspective and experience will help us fulfill our mission," said Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.


5c800b6ceb3ce844505c0512-1920-960.jpg"It's Kirstjen Nielsen's last day as the secretary of Homeland Security," observes Paul Blest at Splinter News, "and already, she, along with her best buds in D.C., are reportedly desperate to do some PR surgery on her so she isn't known for the rest of her life as 'the woman who threw children in cages at the request of Donald Fucking Trump and then lied to Congress about it.'

"Given what we know about accountability for powerful people in America, though, it's a good bet that she'll have little trouble finding a job once she's ready... such as Torture Memos writer and current UC Berkeley law professor John Yoo. Or Henry Kissinger. Or on and on and on."

'Til it Stops

"Because if elite institutions and corporate America simply welcomes her back," adds MSNBC's Chris Hayes (Video), "then, in the same way I'm not sure we won't torture again, I'm not so sure we won't rip children from their mother's arms again."  

Here's one for the Duh files, writes Ed Brayton for

John Yoo, principal author of the infamous torture memos that authorized waterboarding and worse in the Bush administration, says that if Trump declared a state of emergency over Mexican border immigration, that would be perfectly constitutional.

..this is the man who says the president has the legal authority to order a child's testicles crushed in order to get information from their father (yes, that's actually his position)... but that can't just mean that anything he says is an emergency actually is one. 


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White-House-shut-down-banner-1.jpgRule of Law, Not Rule of Trump

January 11, 2019, marks the 17th anniversary of the opening of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, which was established in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. It also marks the start of the prison's third year under the direction of the Trump administration. At the beginning of the Trump administration 41 people remained imprisoned at Guantanamo. Over the last two years, the Trump administration has released just one individual, leaving 40 people in detention while, at times, signaling interest in expanding Guantanamo. What will happen to the prison and its detainees in the remaining years of the Trump administration? Will anyone else be released? Will the prison ever close?

Join New America's International Security Program as they welcome Laura Pitter, Thomas B. Wilner and Andy Worthington for a discussion about what is next for the prison.

New America Foundation
740 15th St NW #900
Washington, DC

Moderator: David Sterman, Senior Policy Analyst, New America International Security program

Follow the conversation online using #GTMO17th and following@NewAmericaISP.


"The more things change, the more they stay the same" characterizes the current post-midterm moment of fascist accommodation that can only be dispelled by determined opposition to life draining business-as-usual agenda sponsored by a ruling class unapologetically thriving on spoils of empire. Our commitment to driving out the Trump/Pence regime can -- must -- facilitate a better future for humankind and the planet.   

There is not going to be some savior from the Democratic Party. This whole idea of putting our hopes and energies into "leaders" who tell us to seek common ground with fascists and religious fanatics is proving every day to be a disaster, and actually serves to demobilize people.

House representative Nancy Pelosi would have us unite around... what? 

"We have come to it at last," writes Truthout editor William Rivers Pitt. "The moment too many have been whistling past in the ill-placed hope that everything would fix itself has arrived. The Achilles heel of democracy -- the use of the democratic process to install a government bent on dismantling democracy -- has been pierced with deliberation and intent. It is everywhere now, and all of us are involved.

"It is laying deep roots," he continues. "We must listen beyond the whispered fascism of today to the shouted fascism of tomorrow." Which some observers expect to be unleashed at the conclusion of midterm elections. A cornered Donald Trump after a midterm defeat could do some very dangerous things, fast, suspects New York Magazine columnist Ed Kilgore. But even if Republicans retain control of the House, Trump will return to business as usual, at the helm of a fascist program of white supremacy, misogyny, and xenophobia.

"You know what I am? I am a nationalist, okay?" declared Donald Trump at a Houston rally, October 22. And a 'proud' nationalist at that. We are about to have a national conversation about the word nationalist writes NPR correspondent Ron Elving. "He is spotlighting the word as he presses for his wall on the southern border and provokes fears of foreign invasion by villainizing the caravan of migrants making its way across Mexico." Trumps use of the term should raise warning flags: "It becomes an attitudinal pretext for a more aggressive foreign policy."

Trump understands the voter appeal of national pride and the defense of American interests, adds Elving.

"Trump's 'Make America Great Again' is a 21st century fascist program of Manifest Destiny - 'America First' - wrapped in the flag and Mike Pence's Bible taken literally," reads the flier announcing protests on Wednesday November 7 -- the day after the midterms -- and Saturday November 10, to demand and demonstrate our determination that the Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America. Join us:

37118525_1884809541813053_760318496834846720_o.jpgRally to Stop the Nightmare
Wednesday November 7, 5:30 pm
San Francisco Civic Center


Protest to Bring This to a Halt
Saturday November 10, 1:00 pm
San Francisco Embarcadero Plaza,
across from the Ferry Building

We Must Be In the Streets Until Trump/Pence are gone. Help wake and mobilize the one force that can stop a fascist America -- millions of people in the streets saying NO! to the Trump/Pence Regime.

We Pledge that we will not stand aside while there is still a chance to stop a regime that imperils humanity and the earth itself. Join us. Let's stand together with conviction and courage, overcoming fear and uncertainty, to struggle with all we've got to demand: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go.

To endorse, volunteer, donate, and/or partner in this effort, go to  

OCTOBER 4 UPDATE: As the sham of FBI "investigation" of sexual assault became abundantly clear today, wishful thinking that government spying institutions can serve a higher purpose came undone. Only persistent, determined protest in the streets will stop the consolidation of a reactionary Supreme Court in service to Christian fundamentalists intent on restructuring society to fascist purpose: subjugation of women, ethnic ceansing, and military aggression against people of the world. Republican Party leaders are ramming their plan forward with a final Senate vote as early as Saturday.

Emergency protest: STOP Kavanaugh Now!
Friday October 5, 5:30pm
Powell & Market Street, San Francisco

This Nightmare Must End:
The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!
In the Name of Humanity,
We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America! 

Senator Jeff Flake's intervention in last week's Kavanaugh hearings interrupted endorsement of the candidate by misogynist Republicans on the Judiciary Committee -- and moved a floor vote forward. Celebration of anticipated rejection of the nomination is premature at best. Even Flake suspects that after all the hoopla around televised questioning of the judge's accuser, the aftermath of FBI investigation will leave us "in exactly the same place."

If this week's investigation finds no "smoking gun," does that legitimize confirmation of the accused perpetrator? Because prior to professor Christine Blasey Ford's disclosure of sexual assault, the ideology -- and actions -- of President George W. Bush's appointee to the U.S. Court of Appeal, Washington circuit, profoundly disqualifies Brett Kavanaugh to adjudicate impartial justice.  

"There are larger structural effects of a system whose most powerful stewards can impose their hateful assumptions across all the institutions that matter -- immigration policy, employment rules, pay standards," argues Rutgers Law School professor David Dante Troutt. "These institutions are the embodiment of larger ideas like access, control and equality; ideas we Americans like to lecture the world about."

supreme-court-nominee-judge-brett-kavanaugh-testifies-news-photo-1041953750-1538411419.jpgThe assertions of opponents to Donald Trump's nominee to the Court are many and varied; a merely cursory investigation of the Yale Law School alumnus' history reveals a propensity to violence against women, victims of misdirected anger, and a shameless defense of selective immunity:

Even among Trump's short list of reactionary candidates to nominate to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh stood out as holding absolutely extreme positions in favor of presidential power and against presidential accountability. In particular, Kavanaugh has publicly argued repeatedly that presidents should not be subject at all to investigations like the Mueller investigation. For the past year, the Mueller investigation has been the only governmental process aimed at determining the role the Trump campaign may have played in conspiring with Putin's attempt to distort and determine the results of the 2016 presidential elections. Only the Mueller investigation can make possible holding Trump accountable for his numerous efforts to obstruct justice and turn the FBI, the Justice Dept. as a whole, and the nation's intelligence agencies into his own personal state police. Given that there are already four judges on the Court ready to uphold a very expansive view of presidential power, Kavanaugh's confirmation would create a long-term majority prepared to uphold the emergence of a reactionary, authoritarian presidential dictatorship over the next period of American history, beginning with an imminent set of decisions pertaining to the Mueller investigation. --  BAMN (By Any Means Necessary)

But the people who really sustain misogyny and white supremacy are the "quiet endorsers," continues Troutt. "The other reason misogyny and white supremacy lead similar lives is that both rely on 'good people doing nothing.'" That's why people of conscience, in the interests of humanity, have a responsibility to drive the Trump/Pence regime from power through non-violent protests that grow every day until our demand is met.

Take Action Today.

static.politico.jpgSenator John Kennedy's lobby for confirmation of Trump's nominee defies the conscientious objections of millions of Americans who Refuse to Accept a Fascist America.

Calling the confirmation process "an intergalactic freak show," the Louisiana Republican predicted a Judiciary Committee vote to advance Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh would proceed as planned on Thursday, reports POLITICO producer Caitlin Oprysko.

Sexual assault allegations against the nominee have inspired Congressional lawmakers to delay the confirmation process "until, at a very minimum, these serious and credible allegations are thoroughly investigated," says Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer.

Palo Alto University professor Christine Ford acknowledged authorship of a confidential letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein this weekend, describing the alleged attack: 

[Ford] alleged that, during an encounter at a party, Kavanaugh held her down, and that he attempted to force himself on her. She claimed in the letter that Kavanaugh and a classmate of his, both of whom had been drinking, turned up music that was playing in the room to conceal the sound of her protests, and that Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand. She was able to free herself. Although the alleged incident took place decades ago and the three individuals involved were minors, the woman said that the memory had been a source of ongoing distress for her, and that she had sought psychological treatment as a result.

We don't need, or want, to disqualify a Supreme Court nominee short of a comprehensive accounting for the candidate's history of assault on human rights -- including the right of a woman to not be raped. "It's not just that Kavanaugh would eviscerate women's fundamental right to decide for themselves whether to bear children -- which alone would be reason enough for millions to rise in massive political revolt," poses "With Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court would be a rubber stamp to the whole Trump/Pence agenda: shredding the separation of church and state in favor of Christian fascism against women, LGBTQ people, science, and the environment; backing xenophobic ethnic cleansing of immigrants and terror against Black people to 'Make America WHITE Again'; eviscerating civil liberties, the separation of powers, and the rule of law; unleashing even more vicious torture and military aggression against people of the world.

Kavanaugh's confirmation would threaten the protection of fundamental human rights, including the right not to be tortured, says Political Science professor Jamie Mayerfeld. The composition of the Supreme Court may determine whether Donald Trump or a future president could act on Trump's promise to "bring back waterboarding and ... a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding."

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