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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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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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9/11 Defendants Military Commission Proceedings Scheduled

The five detainees charged with participating in the 9/11 attacks will appear in court at Guantanamo within 30 days to schedule proceedings in their trial by military commission. They include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Waleed bin Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi

An arraignment will be held at Guantanamo next month, and all of the pretrial issues that surfaced in the earlier case will have to be litigated again, including the issue of self-representation and the mental health and capacity of Binalshibh and Hawsawi.

All of them were held in secret overseas prisons until 2006 when then President Bush ordered them moved to Guantanamo. All alleged being tortured. The death penalty is being sought for all of them.

The 123 page charge sheet is available at the Military Commission's website here (click on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed et al (2), and then use the arrow to go to "Docket." They will also be tried on the charges returned in January, 2012, available at the same link. [More...]

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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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Appeals Court Affirms Dismissal of Suit Over Guantanamo Suicides

The DC Appeals Court today upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit by surviving relatives of detainees who committed suicide at Guantanamo. While the district court cited failure to state a claim as a basis for the dismissal, the Appeals Court cites the Military Commissions Act(Section 7(a) and 28 USC 2241 (e)) as depriving federal courts of jurisdiction to hear claims regarding conditions of confinement (as opposed to habeas claims regarding lawfulness of detention.)

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 results in no remedy being available. The Court (opinion here) says tough luck.

“Not every violation of a right yields a remedy, even when the right is constitutional.”

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Hearing Underway At Guantanamo for Al Nashiri

A motions hearing is underway at Guantanamo in the military commission proceeding against detainee and U.S.S. Cole bombing suspect Abd al Rahim al Nashiri. Here's the agenda. Miami Herald/McClatchy reporter Carol Rosenberg provides this backdrop. She's also at Gitmo tweeting updates. The hearing is being broadcast by closed circuit at Ft. Meade.

The big issue involves the reading of al Nashiri's legal mail. Gitmo Chief Adm. Woods will testify tomorrow about how the prison staff is reviewing legal mail. (Update: He is testifying today.) The defense motion is now available here on the court's website (You have to click on al-Nashiri's active case and then bring up the docket and then scroll down to 12/19 for the motion.) [More...]

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Guantanamo Detainee Sues for Public Release of Torture Tapes

Mohammed al Qahtani, from Saudi Arabia, has been detained at Guantanamo for 10 years. This week the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit on his behalf seeking public release of his videotaped abusive interrogations.

Mr. al Qahtani’s treatment – which included a litany of abusive techniques ranging from severe sleep deprivation, 20-hour interrogations, isolation, threats by military dogs, exposure to extreme temperatures and religious and sexual humiliation - was partially detailed in a military interrogation log leaked to Time Magazine on March 2, 2006. As a result of this treatment, the senior U.S. official in charge of military commissions determined that U.S. personnel tortured Mr. al Qahtani. Mr. al Qahtani’s attorneys have viewed some of the tapes but are not allowed to discuss the contents. The lawsuit argues it is crucial for the public interest that the tapes be publicly released.

[More...]

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ACLU Crunches Guantanamo Numbers

The ACLU today published this handy graphic after crunching the numbers on Guatanamo detainees.

Among the stats:

  • 92% of the detainees were never al-Qaeda fighters. 86% were turned over to coalition forces for a bounty. Only 5% were captured by U.S. soldiers.
  • Number of children detained at Gitmo: 21 (the youngest was 13.)
  • The oldest detainee was 98.
  • More than 200 FBI agents reported abusive treatment of detainees
  • At least 16 were tortured in overseas secret prisons before getting to Gitmo
  • 8 detainees have died. 6 were suicides, including a detainee who arrived at Gitmo at age 16 and killed himself at age 21.

There are 171 detainees still at Guantanamo. 89 have been cleared for release. The amount it costs per year to keep the 89 detained at Gitmo: $70 million.

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