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Obama's Signing Statement on Guantanamo

Here is President Obama's signing statement objecting to portions of the NDAA. His statement on restricting the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo:

This provision hinders the Executive's ability to carry out its military, national security, and foreign relations activities and would, under certain circumstances, violate constitutional separation of powers principles. The executive branch must have the flexibility to act swiftly in conducting negotiations with foreign countries regarding the circumstances of detainee transfers. The Congress designed these sections, and has here renewed them once more, in order to foreclose my ability to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. [More...]

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Senators To Zero Dark Thirty Filmmakers:Your Film Is Inaccurate

NYTImes:

In an unusual Congressional critique of Hollywood moviemaking, three United States senators on Wednesday lambasted “Zero Dark Thirty,” the new fictionalized film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, calling it “grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location” of the terrorist leader. In a letter to Michael Lynton, chairman and chief executive of Sony Pictures Entertainment, the senators — Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California; Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan; and John McCain, Republican of Arizona — weighed in on a public debate over how the film portrays the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of brutal interrogations against Qaeda suspects.

[... A] highly critical 6,000-page study of the C.I.A. detention and interrogation program [..]showed that information derived from waterboarding and other brutal techniques did not play a significant role in locating Bin Laden, who was killed in a raid by Navy SEALs in May 2011.

[...]The senators [...]say the movie is “factually inaccurate” and “has the potential to shape American public opinion in a disturbing and misleading manner.” Their letter asks Sony Pictures to “consider correcting the impression that the C.I.A.’s use of coercive interrogation techniques led to the operation” against Bin Laden[.]

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EW Review of Zero Dark Thirty: "Torture Worked"

Contra Spencer Ackerman, Owen Gleiberman, film reviewer for Entertainment Weekly, writes:

Part of the power of Zero Dark Thirty is that it looks with disturbing clarity at the ''enhanced interrogation techniques'' that were used after 9/11, and it says, in no uncertain terms: They worked.

As Andrew Sullivan notes, this is simply false, and is a huge moral problem for Kathryn Bigelow. She has to stand up now, it seems to me, and refute this conclusion about her film.

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Senate Votes to Ban Military Detentions of U.S. Citizens

The Senate last night approved Sen. Diane Feinstein's Amendment to the NDAA banning military detention of U.S. citizens and green card holders arrested on U.S. soil. It passed 67 to 29. 20 Republicans joined the 46 Democrats in approving the Amendment. The Amendment states:

"An authorization to use military force, a declaration of war, or any similar authority shall not authorize the detention without charge or trial of a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States apprehended in the United States, unless an Act of Congress expressly authorizes such detention."

Unfortunately, the Senate also passed the Ayotte Amendment preventing the use of funds to transfer or release detainees from Guantanamo to the U.S. The vote was 51 to 44 in favor of the ban.

The ACLU says Feinstein's Amendment doesn't go far enough. Here's why: [More...]

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Amendment Introduced to Ban Indefinite Detention of U.S. Citizens

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) today introduced an Amendment to the NDAA that would ban indefinite detention of U.S. citizens.

The language of the amendment assures that no authorization to use military force, war declaration or any similar authority would allow an American apprehended in the United States to be held without charge or trial.

Co-sponsors include Senators Paul (R-Ky.), Coons (D-Del.), Collins (R-Maine), Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kirk (D-Ill.), Tester (D-Mont.), Johnson (D-S.D.), Sanders (I-Vt.), Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Baucus (D-Mont.) and Heller (R-Nev.)

The 668 page NDAA bill for 2013 is S. 3254, available here.

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GAO Study: US Prisons Capable of Housing Guantanamo Detainees

Sen. Diane Feinstein today released a Nov. 15 study by the GAO on the feasibility of housing Guantanamo detainees in U.S. prisons. The study does not make a recommendation, but it reports that it's feasible. It finds 6 Defense Department prisons and 98 BOP prisons would be able to house them. The full study is here. Wired reports on the study here.

In other Guantanamo news, the ACLU and several other human rights group have sent this letter to President Obama urging him to veto the NDAA if it extends the ban on transferring Guantanamo detainees to the U.S.[More...]

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Omar Khadr Transferred from Gitmo to Canada

Finally, Omar Khadr, the "child of Jihad" has left Guantanamo and returned home to Canada.

He was transferred to the Millhaven Institution, a maximum security prison in Bath, Ont. His lawyer says he is happy to be home.

Omar was 15 when he was captured and sent to Guantanamo. He is now 26. He pleaded guilty at Gitmo in 2010, receiving an 8 year sentence which specified he would be eligible to return to Canada after one year. Now in Canada, he will be eligible to apply for parole after one year. [More...]

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Feds Seek Emergency Stay of Indefinite Detention Decision

Last week I wrote about Manhattan federal court Judge Katherine Forrest's granting of a permanent injunction against the indefinite detention provision of the National Defense Authorization Act. Her 112 page opinion is here.

The feds sought a stay pending appeal from Judge Forrest but she denied it.

Today, the feds appealed to the Second Circuit, seeking an emergency stay of Judge Forrest's ruling. Wired has the details and the 154 page brief is here. [More...]

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NY Federal Judge Enjoins Indefinite Detention Portion of NDAA

U.S. District Court Judge Katherine Forrest (SDNY) has granted a permanent injunction against the provision in the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act that allows the indefinite detention of individuals (including U.S. citizens) who substantially support Al-Qaeda, the Taliban or their “associated forces." The 112 page ruling is here.

This Court rejects the Government’s suggestion that American citizens can be placed in military detention indefinitely, for acts they could not predict might subject them to detention, and have as their sole remedy a habeas petition adjudicated by a single decision-maker (a judge versus a jury), by a “preponderance of the evidence” standard. That scenario dispenses with a number of guaranteed rights.

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Guantanamo Detainee Found Dead

Via Reuters: The military has announced a Guantanamo detainee was found dead today:

"While conducting routine checks, Joint Task Force-Guantanamo guards found the detainee unconscious and unresponsive. The guards immediately performed first aid and summoned medical personnel to the scene," the Southern Command said in a news release Monday.

Medics tried to revive him and took him to the base hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the release said. His remains will be returned home after an autopsy, it said.

The Southern Command's press release is here.

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9th Circuit Rules John Yoo has Immunity in Torture Suits


The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a district court ruling that the lawsuit filed by former detainee Jose Padilla can proceed against Bush Administration official John Yoo, who authored the infamous torture memos.

The memos authorized CIA interrogators to use waterboarding, keep detainees naked, hold them in painful standing positions and keep them in the cold for long periods of time. Other techniques included depriving them of solid food and slapping them. Sleep deprivation, prolonged shackling and threats to a detainee’s family were also used.

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Two Guantanano Detainees Transferred to El Salvador

Two of the Chinese Uighur Muslim detainees at Guantanamo, ordered freed three years ago by a federal judge in Washington, were finally able to leave Gtimo yesterday. They went to El Salvador. They have spent ten years at Gitmoo.

AThe freed men are Hamat Memet, who turns 34 next month, and Abdul Razzak, whose age is not known.

Two down, 169 to go, not counting the 5 9/11 detainees who will be tried in a military commission proceeding.

Thank you, El Salvador.

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5 Guantanamo Detainees Agree to Transfer to Qatar

Afghanistan sent a delegation to Guantanamo to convince 5 detainees to transfer to Qatar. They agreed.

The five, allegedly Taliban leaders, won't be freed but transferred to less restrictive custody and their families will move there to be with them.

One may be Mullah Norullah Noori. Here's his detainee assessment file. Others who may be among the five: Mullah Khair Khowa (reportedly a former interior minister) and Mullah Fazl Akhund (reportedly a former army commander.)

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Republicans Cry Foul Over Guantananmo's New Soccer Field

Carole Rosenberg at the Miami Herald writes about Republican outrage over a $750,000 soccer field just completed at Guantanamo for the detainees. It opens in April. It cost $750,000.

One Republican, Rep. Dennis Ross (Lakeland, Fla.) has even introduced a bill called the “NO FIELD Act” which stands for " None of Our Funds for the Interest, Exercise, or Leisure of Detainees Act." It would reduce the Defense budget for 2013 by

The first-term Ross shows his lack of knowledge about who is being held at Gitmo with this comment: [More...]

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Majid Kahn and the Pentagon's "Let's Make a Deal" Strategy

Bump and Update: Majid Kahn pleaded guilty today at Guantanamo. The ACLU says his plea deal must be viewed through the lens of torture. Carole Rosenberg at the Miami Herald, who was at the hearing, reports that under the plea deal, he could be freed in four years when he's sentenced:
Under the plea deal, a military jury will hear the case and sentence Khan in 2016. The jury can order him to serve up to 40 years, after which a military judge would reduce it to at-most 25 years. A senior Pentagon official would then have the authority to suspend any or all of it. Once the sentence is over, it would be up to the Executive Branch to decide whether to keep him as a post 9/11 war-on-terror prisoner like the vast majority of the 171 captives here.

Here are the plea agreement and the Appendix, and the Statement of Facts. [More...]

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