May 2013 Archives

The President did say he'd close the prison; it isn't closed. Eighty-six of the hundred and sixty-six prisoners--more than half--have been cleared for release; they haven't been released. A country that does that can't be proud, and Obama may actually be ashamed... But why now?

..the catalyst in this case is the real possibility that one or more prisoners will die of starvation soon; the odds are, given the raw numbers, that it will be someone we've already decided shouldn't be at Guantánamo, or have given up trying to charge. Prisoners have died there before, but not in a protest so broad and so stark. A wave of deaths would be a political, moral, and foreign-policy disaster, with the seriousness not necessarily in that order.


4 prisoners have died under his administration of that shameful experiment in illegal detention.

Of the 166 remaining victims, 157 have never been charged of any crime. 86 men have been cleared but denied release.

Something to think about on Memorial Day 2013.
the price of being "the world's most powerful nation." 
Pete Souza, Official White House Photographer

Counter-Terrorism is an aggressive form of political warfare that is necessary to expand and police the American Empire, coerce and weaken strategic enemies (Russia and China), and control the American people by expanding government surveillance, reducing civil liberties, and through the type of propaganda he [Obama] spewed yesterday, shaping the political attitudes of the American people...

Moazzam-Begg.jpgAlthough Obama has indicated that he is set to resume prisoner transfers from Guantanamo Bay, former detainee Moazzam Begg believes innocent people striking for their freedom will not stop unless they see some real action...

May 23, 2013

Parliament passed a resolution on the situation of the hunger-striking prisoners in

Guantánamo. The resolution calls on US authorities to treat detainees with respect for

their inherent dignity and to uphold their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The US authorities should review the military commission system to ensure fair trials,

close Guatánamo and prohibit in any circumstances the use of torture, ill-treatment and

indefinite detention without trial, MEPs say.

Text of resolution here.
A clamor for answers, including over a thousand voices from the World Can't Wait ad in the New York Times, "CLOSE GUANTANAMO NOW," precipitated a presidential response to the prisoner hunger strike today. Short on concrete plans or a timetable, reporters struggle to separate rhetoric from reality when faced with the media blackout at the prison facility itself. Once again, action will speak louder than words.

the road to Guantanamo

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Speculation on the motivation for John Yoo's cover for presidential over-reach tends to define his role as "fixer." The reality is that the Office of Legal Counsel attorney was actively promoting patently illegal policy from the get-go, including choice of the prison location. 

"Well, there weren't a lot of good choices, and I think Secretary Rumsfeld called it the "least worst place" or something like that... 

a related issue was whether the federal courts were going to get involved in trying to manage how the facility worked. And so in the past, the Supreme Court had said prison bases outside the United States, the territory of the United States, which house enemy prisoners at war would not be within the jurisdiction of the federal court system...

one thing you want to be concerned about is having that kind of involvement while war is still going on.

Note Yoo's disparagement of the role of the judicial branch of government. Consider the consequences of his (later rescinded) opinions, and ask the question: 

Would we be in this mess in the first place were it not for the the paradigm of "unitary executive" promoted by Berkeley Law's resident war criminal?
1-1.jpgAs the Guantanamo hunger strike enters its 100th day, the number of voices, both in the US and around the world, to close the facility are growing stronger and louder... the latest from RT here

nowhere to hide

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Political speeches and posturing are one thing. Reality is another. 

While promoting the message to Close Guantanamo that we are raising funds to publish in The New York Times, we  have been hearing, especially in the Twitterverse, that people think, because Obama promised to close Guantanamo, and says that Congress is not allowing him to do that, the main problem is with Congress.

It is quite true that the U.S. Congress, both when the Republicans led it under Bush, and since the Democrats took over leadership in 2006, has a shameful record in advancing all sorts of repression.  Memorably, they've made speeches and passed resolutions -- and tried to pass laws -- saying Guantanamo, specificially, can't be closed, nor can the prisoners ever by tried here or released in the U.S.

So appealing to the right-wing Congress is going to continue to be a very hopeless road, absent the kind of mass political movement from the people needed, on all issues of justice, from authorizing un-ending wars, targeted killing, violation of borders for other countries, while further militarizing this country's borders and infrastructure...

new "full frisk" policy employed to discourage access to counsel:

"shocking" searches were "designed to deter many detainees from meeting with their clients ... to make their life more miserable and put the detainees in front of an impossible choice. -- Attorney David Remes

more on "genital pat down" here

The Power of Kings

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Kill-LIst-300x231.jpg"If the disposal of people's freedom and dignity on the basis of secret and uncontestable information is the sine qua non of the power of kings, so much more so is the power to dispose of their lives*... to claim infallibility and deny evidence to the contrary, and to stonewall requests for information about who is classified as killable 
and why, is outrageous. -- Lisa Hajjar

in contrast to the school's "historical reputation as a beacon for human rights principles and international law, Holder serves the Obama Administration's policies of indefinite detention, targeted assassination outside due process and use of drone warfare in his official leadership role and his political voice." -- c/o Bay City News Service

9hungerstrikeNYTadslideshow_596_298.jpg166 men remain imprisoned at Guantanamo.  Most are 100 days into a hunger strike. Some are near death, many imprisoned for more than ten years. They have lost hope of being released, although a majority were cleared to leave years ago. As Adnan Latif, a detainee, wrote during an earlier hunger strike, "Where is the world to save us from torture? Where is the world to save the hunger strikers?" Mr. Latif was cleared for release as well, but he died in September 2012, still waiting for justice.

President Obama had said nothing about Guantanamo for years. Facing a growing outcry, he says that he wants to close it, but that Congress is blocking closure. Even under Congress' existing criteria, however, Obama could have released most of the detainees years ago. 

He closed the office responsible for processing prisoners' releases; recently banned commercial flights to the prison to make it harder for lawyers to meet with their clients; barred emergency calls by attorneys to the detainees; ordered forced feeding through excruciating means and by strapping prisoners down (a violation of medical ethics and torture in itself); and authorized an April 13 assault in which guards fired rubber bullets on hunger strikers. Obama does not need Congressional approval: as Commander-in-Chief, he has the power to shut the prison down now.

The continuing torture at Guantanamo is part of larger, alarming developments. When he ran for office, Obama promised to restore the rule of law. Instead he has claimed and exercised unchecked executive powers beyond what George Bush used. He refuses to prosecute officials for their use of torture, yet aggressively prosecutes any whistle-blowers who expose war crimes, most flagrantly in the torture, slander and draconian legal charges against Bradley Manning.

By signing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, Obama made indefinite detention, based on merely an accusation, the law of the land. These actions amount to institutionalizing and, in important respects, escalating the "Bush Doctrine."

In the name of "democracy" our government has tortured at least one hundred people to death. In the name of the "war on terror," thousands have been detained without a chance to face their accusers or even know what charges they are held under. In opposition to international law, Obama has advanced a policy of targeted killing across sovereign borders, deciding who will die by Hellfire missiles shot from drones -without charges, trials, or any evidence other than what only Obama and his close advisers deem sufficient.

At least 176 children have been killed by drones in Pakistan alone and between 3-4,000 non-combatants have died in drone attacks. John Bellinger, who drafted Bush's justifications for targeted killings, concludes that the Obama administration has decided to kill people with drones so that they don't have to imprison them.

Fundamental civil liberties have been eviscerated.  In the name of safety, fear, or revenge, American presidents cannot be allowed to arrogate to themselves the power of judge, jury and executioner. Actions that utilize de facto torture, that run roughshod over the rule of law and due process, and that rain down terror and murder on peoples and nations, without any declaration of war, amount to war crimes.  Such actions cannot in any way be morally justified in the name of "protecting Americans." The lives of people living here are not more precious than any other nation's lives.

It is up to people to stand up for principle and morality when their institutions and public officials refuse to do so. The fates of those who are maimed or killed by our government's policies are inextricably intertwined with our own: we must listen and respond to their cry for justice. We must demand their release now, before they lose their lives as well.

Donate to further spread this message. Join in visible protest and make your voice heard.

"any day, some prisoners may die, and we'll have to explain why it took longer for us to make sense of why we were holding them than it did for them to give up on their lives...

Force-feeding may not be one of the "enhanced interrogation techniques" sanctioned by John Yoo, in what he refers to as "the bad things" opinion, but the United Nations Human Rights Commission defines it as torture none-the-less.

Nowhere in the President's recent statements do I find consideration of the hunger strikers' interests. The principle of Habeas Corpus applies to Americans and their prisoners alike.

Closure of Guantanamo is not "complicated." It boils down to the application of a centuries-old practice:


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Important Reading

Physicians for Human Rights
Broken Laws, Broken Lives

NLG White Paper

The President's Executioner

Detention and torture in Guantanamo

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