Tag: Detainees (page 3)

Report Blames Rumsfeld for Detainee Abuses

As BTD noted below, a bipartisan Senate Committee has released a new report on the Administration's abuse of detainees in Iraq and at Guantanamo. Senator Carl Levin's press release is here. From WaPo:

The Senate Armed Services Committee report accuses Rumsfeld and his deputies of being the principal architects of the plan to use harsh interrogation techniques on captured fighters and terrorism suspects, rejecting the Bush administration's contention that the policies originated lower down the command chain.

"The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of 'a few bad apples' acting on their own," the panel concludes. "The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees."

How it began: [More...]

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How Due Process Works at Camp Bucca

The Washington Post has a four-page article today on the detainees at American prisons in Iraq. While conditions may have improved from the days of Abu Ghraib abuses, the likelihood of receiving due process apparently has not.

Here's one example: Talib Mohammed Farkhan, who was held for 15 months before being told the reasons for his detention. He learned them at his first hearing. Here's what happened:

[He]shuffled into Hearing Room 3 to hear his U.S. captors explain the allegations against him for the first time.

Farkhan, a Shiite Muslim, appeared to follow along as the American officers said he had been detained for membership in the Mahdi Army, the anti-American Shiite militia. But he looked totally baffled when they also accused him of working with al-Qaeda in Iraq, the extremist Sunni Muslim group that kills Americans and Shiites.

"I don't understand how that could be possible," said a visibly flustered Farkhan, a welder from the southern city of Iskandariyah, who denied all the accusations. "They are Sunni. I am Shia."


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Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Enemy Combatant Case

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of Ali Saleh Kahlan al Marri, a U.S. legal resident originally from Qatar who has been held since 2001 in the Navy Brig in South Carolina. He was seized in Peoria, Ill.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond ruled in July that the president had the power to detain Marri under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force enacted by Congress in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. But the court also said he could challenge his designation as an enemy combatant before a district court in South Carolina.

The question: Can the military indefinitely detain a U.S. citizen or legal resident seized on American soil? Background on 4th Circuit decision here. The ACLU has more on today's Court action.

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A Plan to Close Guantanamo

Writing in the Washington Post, Former FBI agent Jack Cloonan and Sarah Mendelson, author of a report "Closing Guantanamo: From Bumper Sticker to Blue Print" have a plan to close Guantanamo.

Shorter version: Appoint a "blue ribbon panel" of experts to divide those who are left into two categories, those who can be released and those who should be tried in the U.S. criminal justice system. For those who are tried, no use of information gained through torture.

On a related note, a former leader of a team of interrogators in Iraq in 2006 writes, using a pseudomym, I'm Still Tortured by What I Saw in Iraq.

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Guantanamo Detainee Hamdan Returning to Yemen

The long ordeal of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, one time driver for Osama bin Laden, is almost over. The Washington Post reports within 48 hours he will be returned to his home country of Yemen to finish the last month of his sentence imposed by the military commission jury.

The U.S. military has decided to transfer Osama bin Laden's former driver from custody at Guantanamo Bay to his home in Yemen, ending the seven-year saga of a man the Bush administration considered a dangerous terrorist but whom a military jury found to be a low-level aide.

The Pentagon is trying to spare itself another loss in the Supreme Court. Had it refused to release Hamdan after his sentence was up, he surely would have litigated the question of whether the U.S. has the right to indefinitely detain those it deems enemy combatants after they've served their sentences.

"Legally, we absolutely have a right to hold enemy combatants, but politically is he the guy we want to fight all the way to the Supreme Court about?" said a defense official familiar with the release negotiations. "I think we came to the conclusion that, no, he wasn't. This is a win for everyone."

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Federal Judge Denies Relief to Guantanamo Teenage Detainee

Canadian Omar Khadr, facing a military commissions trial, got no relief today in federal court when the judge refused to block his trial. Now 22, he's been held at Guantanamo since age 15 when captured during a gunfight in Afghanistan.

Khadr argued in pleadings in U.S. District Court that the Military Commissions Act doesn't give the military the ability to try juveniles. He also challenged his status as an "enemy combatant" saying U.S. law doesn't recognize juveniles as members of groups like al-Qaida; and he said that he should have been detained in "a rehabilitation and reintegration program appropriate for former child soldiers" instead of being mixed in with adults at Guantanamo Bay.

He has also alleged previously he was tortured. [More...]

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Gitmo Detainees to Get Culture Classes and Movie Nights

Changes are coming to Guantanamo and closure isn't one of them yet. The detainees will be provided culture classes for intellectual stimulation, movie nights and more.

Prison camp staff will soon start offering art and geology classes to long-held war-on-terrorism detainees....Plans include hand-held Game Boy-like electronic games to circulate through the cells, newspapers from Cairo, more ''movie nights'' featuring videotaped sports and expanded lessons in English as a second language.

....''We want to keep their brains stimulated. We're not here to give degrees,'' says Zak, an Arab American who serves as the prison camps' cultural advisor, a secular job. ``Once they are engaged and busy, they leave the guards alone.''

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Judge Orders Five Gitmo Detainees Released

U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon today ordered the release of five of the six habeas defendants in Boumediene v. Bush/Al Odah v. U.S (pdf). The opinion will be out later today.

In the first case of its kind, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon said the government's evidence linking the five Algerians to al-Qaida was not credible as it came from a single, unidentified source. Therefore, he said the five could not be held indefinitely as enemy combatants, and should be released immediately.

"To allow enemy combatancy to rest on so thin a reed would be inconsistent with the court's obligation," Leon told the crowded courtroom.


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Obama to Study Detainee Files After Taking Office

The Washington Post has more on President-Elect Barack Obama's Guantanamo plans. Shorter version: We'll study the matter and get back to you. [Warning, this is a very long post.]

The Obama administration will launch a review of the classified files of the approximately 250 detainees at Guantanamo Bay immediately after taking office, as part of an intensive effort to close the U.S. prison in Cuba, according to people who advised the campaign on detainee issues.

....Although as a candidate Obama publicly expressed his desire to close the detention facility, his transition team stressed this week that the president-elect has not assembled his national security and legal team and that no decisions have been made "about where and how to try the detainees," Denis McDonough, an Obama foreign policy adviser, said in a statement issued Monday.


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Obama Clarifies Position on Guantanamo Trials

It may have been too good to be true. Earlier today the news reported that Obama planned to close Guantanamo and try the detainees facing criminal charges in U.S. criminal courts or courts using the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Or, in a curious statement, in some kind of new court.

Not so fast. After the reports, Obama released a statement denying he was considering a new kind of court for the detainees, but that also said:

"....There is absolutely no truth to reports that a decision has been made about how and where to try the detainees, and there is no process in place to make that decision until his national security and legal teams are assembled," said Denis McDonough, a senior foreign policy adviser for the transition team, in a statement.

So, the good news is Obama's not planning on creating a new kind of court. The hiccup is he is not prepared to say today "how and where" the detainees will be tried. [More..]

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ACLU Launches Close Gitmo Campaign

The ACLU and Brave New Founation launched their Close Guantanamo campaign today. They also took out this full page ad in today's New York Times, calling on Barack Obama to close Gitmo. The website for Close Gitmo is here. A page of resources is here.

As President, I will close Guantánamo, reject the Military Commissions Act, and adhere to the Geneva Conventions” – Barack Obama, 8/1/07

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Obama Plans to Move Gitmo Terror Trials to Criminal Courts

Here's a breath of fresh air:

President-elect Obama's advisers are quietly crafting a proposal to ship dozens, if not hundreds, of imprisoned terrorism suspects to the United States to face criminal trials, a plan that would make good on his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison but could require creation of a controversial new system of justice.

Under plans being put together in Obama's camp, some detainees would be released and many others would be prosecuted in U.S. criminal courts.

Here's an interesting twist:

A third group of detainees — the ones whose cases are most entangled in highly classified information — might have to go before a new court designed especially to handle sensitive national security cases, according to advisers and Democrats involved in the talks.

I hope the "new court" has more protections than those set up by the Military Commissions Act.

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Gitmo Detainee Convicted at Trial

Bump and Update: Ali Hamza al Bahlul has been found guilty at his Guantanamo Military Commissions trial.The ACLU says (statement to be available here shortly):
“The conviction of Al Bahlul is yet another example of a military commission system set up to produce convictions, not to deliver real justice. Unfortunately, because the system is fundamentally flawed and lacks any semblance of due process, a cloud of illegitimacy hangs over this verdict. The world deserves better than that from America. The next president should close Guantánamo and future prosecutions should occur in criminal or military courts where the Constitution still means something and where verdicts, no matter what they are, can be trusted.” ...The ACLU calls on the next president to close Guantánamo, ban torture and end extraordinary rendition.

Original Post:

McCain vs. Obama on Gitmo Trials


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U.S. Drops Charges Against 5 Detainees, Will Refile After Election

The U.S. today moved to dismiss the cases of five Guantanamo detainees facing criminal charges: Binyam Mohamed, Noor Uthman Muhammed, Sufyiam Barhoumi, Ghassan Abdullah al Sharbi and Jabran Said Bin al Qahtani.

Clive Stafford Smith, a civilian attorney representing one of the five, Binyam Mohamed, said he has already been notified that charges against his client will be reinstated. "Far from being a victory for Mr. Mohamed in his long-running struggle for justice, this is more of the same farce that is Guantanamo," Stafford Smith said. "The military has informed us that they plan to charge him again within a month, after the election."

Army Lt. Col. Bryan Broyles, who represents another of the five detainees, said the military might be preparing the tribunals to face increased scrutiny following next month's presidential election. John McCain and Barack Obama have both said they want to close Guantanamo Bay.

The Government's less than credible explanation: [More...]

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Appeals Court Stays Release of Uighur Gitmo Detainees

By a 2 to 1 vote, a three judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has granted the Government's motion for a stay of the District Court's order directing the Bush Administration to release the 17 Uighur detainees held at Guantanamo into the U.S. (Background here and here.)

The government has been trying to find new homes for the Uighurs for years. It no longer considers them enemy combatants and provided no evidence in court that they posed a security risk. The men cannot be returned to their homeland because they face the prospect of being tortured and killed. China considers the men terrorists.

Judge Judith Rogers dissented. Her reasoning: [More...]

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