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Taliban Issues Statement on Guantanamo Hunger Strikes

The Islamic Emirate of Afhanistan (Taliban) have released an official statement on Guantanamo and the hunger strikes.

The Islamic Emirate, which considers the ongoing atrocity in Guantanamo as a crime against humanity and a historical disgrace for mankind, calls on the entire Islamic world, Islamic societies and respected personalities, all the international human right organizations, media groups and charitable organizations to show their opposition and raise their voices against this unlawful action of the American officials as part of their duty and humanitarian obligation. The Islamic Emirate similarly calls on all writers, journalists and professionals to condemn the actions of America carried out against inmates in the infamous Guantanamo prison for the defense of human dignity and to fulfill their religious and humanitarian obligation.

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Obama to Congress: Close Guantanamo

President Obama gave a news conference today at which he renewed a request to close Guantanamo:

"I continue to believe we have to close Guantanamo. I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe.

"It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counterterrorism efforts. It is a recruiting tool for extremists...."It needs to be closed," he said.

More than 100 of the 168 detainees are now on a hunger strike.[More...]

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Guantanamo Inmate Describes Force-Feeding


Yemeni detainee Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel is one of the many prisoners at Guantanammo on a hunger strike. He has been held for 11 years, never been charged with a crime, and cleared for release.

He tells his story in an op-ed in the New York Times, Guantanamo is Killing me. It's very disturbing to read. You wouldn't do a dog this way.

Shame on us. The U.S. needs to send these men home.

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Pre-Dawn Raid at Guantanamo, Detainees Rebel

Guards at Guantanamo this morning conducted a pre-dawn raid of Camp 6, the communal housing block where most of the inmates are on a hunger strike. The purpose was to move the hunger-striking inmates to maximum security cells.

The detainees fought back. According to Guantanamo officials:

“Some detainees resisted with improvised weapons, and in response, four less-than-lethal rounds were fired,” according to a statement issued by the prison camps at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba. “There were no serious injuries to guards or detainees.”

....“In order to reestablish proper observation, the guards entered the Camp 6 communal living spaces to transition detainees into single cells, remove obstructions to cameras, windows and partitions, and to assess the medical condition of each detainee,” the prison said.

Yesterday, Guantanamo's prison camp Commander was replaced. [More...]

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Guantanamo: Thousands of Defense Emails Made Accessible to Prosecution

A military commissions judge at Guantanamo has delayed proceedings in the case of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri for two months due to the discovery by an IT team that 540,000 private defense emails were made available to the prosecution.

The mishandling of the e-mails was detected when IT specialists were conducting a search of the government’s computer system on behalf of prosecutors in a particular case. When they did so, they came across not only the e-mails they were seeking but also e-mails between defense lawyers.

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Hunger Strike at Guantanamo Becoming More Serious

Carol Rosenberg at the Miami Herald has a graphic and disturbing update of the continuing hunger strike at Guantanamo (background here.)

By this weekend, the U.S. military had defined 26 of the 166 captives as hunger strikers. Eight were being fed nutritional shakes through a tube snaked through a shackled captive’s nose to his stomach. Two were hospitalized, getting nutrition through a tube and intravenous hydration as well. Lawyers for the captives quote their clients as counting dozens more as long-term hunger strikers, who are getting weaker by the day.

Each meal is prepared, brought to the detainee, and when refused, thrown away. [More...]

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Guantanamo Hunger Strike: Pentagon Disputes Numbers

There has been a mass hunger strike going on since February at Guantanamo, mostly by detainees in Camp Six, the least restrictive unit. According to a letter from more than 50 defense lawyers to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, available here, almost all of the 134 detainees in Camp Six are engaged in the hunger strike, and they are dropping like flies.

The Defense Department disputes the numbers, and insists only 14 are being force-fed: 9 involved in the current strike and 5 who always go on hunger strikes. The photo above is of a restraint chair used to force-feed detainees at Gitmo.[More...}

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Guantanamo Judge Orders End to Secret Censoring of Hearing Testimony

An unnamed government agency has been secretly monitoring court proceedings in the pre-trial hearings of the 9/11 defendants at Guantanamo and pushing the censor button. The judge today ordered it to stop.

Army Col James Pohl ordered an unnamed government agency to remove censorship equipment, as a second round of pretrial hearings finished on Thursday....The judge said in his ruling that he had sole authority to decide when to close a hearing or stop spectators - including journalists and relatives of the victims - from listening to testimony.

From the transcript [Unofficial/Unauthenticated Transcript of the KSM et al. (2) Hearing Dated 1/31/2013 from 9:01 AM to 9:22 AM, accessible here.) [More...]

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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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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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Diminished Media Presence at Gitmo for Tomorrow's Hearings

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other 9/11 defendants have hearings this week, beginning tomorrow at Guantanamo's court for military commissions -- their first hearings since May.

Reporters who are there tonight say on Twitter the number of reporters seems to have decreased by 50%. Some estimate only 25 reporters are there, and several of them are there for the first time, representing organizations such as Jesuit Weekly and the Bergen Record.

The defense lawyers complained today that the office space they were given is infested with rats, rat feces and mold and making them ill. They filed a Motion called "Mr. Mohammad's Emergency Motion to Delay the October 2012 Hearing due to Defense Offices Being Deemed Unsafe by the US Naval Hospital Guantanamo Bay due to the Presence of Hazardous Mold, Rodents, and Rodent Feces." While (naturally) the motion and responses are sealed, the Court's one sentence order denying the motion is available on the docket (choose the active case for KSM from the dropdown list and then the link for all documents at the bottom or the docket link.) [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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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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Guantanamo Hearings Canceled for 911 Defendants

Stormy weather resulted in the cancellation of six days of hearings for the 911 defendants at Guantanamo, which scheduled to begin yesterday and first postponed until tomorrow.

he U.S. National Hurricane Center’s tracking map shows Tropical Storm Isaac crossing Haiti as a hurricane on Aug. 24 and striking Cuba before arriving at the Florida coast below Cape Coral on Aug. 27.

The hearings have not yet been rescheduled. 25 pretrial motions were on the agenda, including some by the media.

Defense lawyers, journalists and representatives of non- governmental organizations including Human Rights Watch were on hand to watch the proceedings.

The last hearing was in May. One of the defense lawyers said today trial is unlikely to occur until four years from now, due to the hundreds of motions that will be need to be resolved.

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9/11 Defendants Appear at Guantanamo Court

Today, the 5 detainees at Guantanamo charged with the September 11, 2001 attacks were brought to a courtroom at the Expeditionary Legal Complex (ELC),

They are Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin 'Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi.”

They are all in court now. So far, none have uttered a word. While the proceeding is called an arraignment, the defendants are not called upon to enter a plea. The judge reads them their rights, an interpreter who is not physically present interprets one line at a time, and the Court asks if they understand their rights. (The interpreter is in a different building.) So far, none of the defendants have replied to the judge's questoins, which goes on the record as "refused to answer." [More...]

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