President Obama signed the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014) in Hawaii today.
He also released this signing statement criticizing Congress for its restrictions on transferring Gitmo detainees to the U.S. and preventing federal trials.
Obama needs to step up the pressure on closing Gitmo. One of his first acts in office in 2009 was to issue an executive order promising the closure of Gitmo in a year. It will not be good for his legacy if Gitmo is still up and running when he leaves office 8 years later. Then again, he also released a similar statement last year, so who knows what his intentions are. [More...]
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Retired Gen. Michael Lehnart, who was in charge of Guantanamo when it opened in 2002, says it's time to close it and end the mistake.
"In retrospect, the entire detention and interrogation strategy was wrong..."
"We squandered the goodwill of the world after we were attacked by our actions in Guantanamo, both in terms of detention and torture," Lehnert wrote. "Our decision to keep Guantanamo open has helped our enemies because it validates every negative perception of the United States."
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In an op-ed in the New York Times, author John Grisham writes he was puzzled by reports that his books were banned at Guantanamo. Lawyers for some of the detainees said their clients had requested them, so they brought copies with them when visiting, but the books weren't allowed through, due to "impermissible content."
Grisham says he tracked down one detainee, Nabil Hadjarab, a 34-year-old Algerian who grew up in France, who speaks perfect English. Grisham got to know Nabil's history, and it is similar to many of the detainees: they were sold to the U.S for a bounty of $5,000.
Nabil has been at Gitmo for 11 years. Grisham thinks he will be one of those released. But, he asks, what then? [More...]
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Jason Leopold has obtained the March 5, 2013 revised protocol for force-feeding prisoners at Guantanamo. You can read it here .
The policy went into effect about a month after the most recent hunger strikes began. On Friday, the strike will be in its 100th day.
Jason, who recently left Truthout and is now free-lancing, wrote the account for al-Jazeera. He is visiting Gitmo this week to report on the hunger strikes. Not surprisingly, after his arrival today, he received a request from officials to discuss his article.
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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