Archive for civil liberties – Page 2

Obama reversal: No civilian trials for detainees. Suspects to be tried by military commission at Gitmo.

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

It's already been all over the news, but in case you missed it, here's a quick recap via an L.A. Times email alert:

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, alleged mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and four accused co-conspirators will be tried by a military commission in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, instead of in a civilian court in New York, it was widely reported today.

U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder is expected to make the formal announcement at a scheduled news conference later today.

The Obama administration had pushed to try Mohammed in a civilian court in New York. But last month, Obama lifted a freeze on new military trials at Guantanamo Bay, arguing that Congress was hurting national security by blocking his attempts to move some trials into civilian courts in the United States.

More soon at: http://www.latimes.com/.

I'm sure Fayiz al-Kandari will be thrilled.

Always looking forward, never backward, right Congress (added)? Except for one thing: This is really backward.  At the moment, I'm too disappointed to go further with this, and if you've followed my previous posts about all things Guantanamo Bay (and I suggest you scroll through them and read), you know why.

***

here; That link includes one specific to only *Fayiz al-Kandari’s story here (very similar to Hicks’ in that he was sold for bounty).

Here are audio and video interviews with Lt. Col. Wingard, one by David Shuster, one by Ana Marie Cox, and more. My guest commentary at BuzzFlash is here.

Lt. Col. Barry Wingard is a military attorney who represents Fayiz Al-Kandari in the Military Commission process and in no way represents the opinions of his home state. When not on active duty, Colonel Wingard is a public defender in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

If you are inclined to help rectify these injustices: Twitterers, use the hashtag #FreeFayiz. We have organized a team to get these stories out. If you are interested in helping Fayiz out, e-mail me at The Political Carnival, address in sidebar to the right; or tweet me at @GottaLaff.

If you’d like to see other ways you can take action, go here and scroll down to the end of the article.

Then read Jane Mayer’s book The Dark Side. You’ll have a much greater understanding of why I post endlessly about this, and why I’m all over the CIA deception issues, too.

More of Fayiz’s story here, at Answers.com.

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Military lawyer: "If the executive branch suspects you might be dangerous, you are condemned to life in a cage."

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Lt. Col. Barry Wingard represents Guantanamo Bay detainee Fayiz al-Kandari, as you know if you’ve read my posts for over a year now, covering Fayiz’s incarceration and abuse.

He has written an op-ed that he would like us to share with you:

Setting Sail for a Better Life

Long ago, individuals from around the world came to America to escape kings and monarchs that had the power to treat people with utter disdain, sending their children to wars on a whim, and imprisoning people without charge or judicial review, sometimes for life.  For many, the behavior of these rulers became so intolerable that abandoning one's home, friends, and family became preferable to continued suffering in lands where individual liberty counted for nothing.

Today the United States finds itself in three official “conflicts” (Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya), as well as several more unofficial “actions.”  As usual, our involvement is based upon faulty intelligence and lack of insight, driven by planners that still believe defeating an enemy army and throwing a nation into chaos will somehow make the world a better place.  In the Libyan conflict, for example, we seem to have little idea who we are supporting or what we will do once Colonel Gaddafi is eliminated.  Nonetheless, with the force of the United States behind them, these mysterious rebels may soon find themselves defining the course of Libya's future.

So, what can our new desert rebel allies learn from America?  As evidenced by the United States' close relationship with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen, the lesson has almost nothing to do with democracy.  In fact, so long as they remain friendly and helpful to the United States, their actual form of government (or treatment of their people) won't really matter.

Perhaps our desert rebel allies will learn to establish a powerful executive branch, unchecked by legislative or judicial branches.  Or perhaps they will learn to conceal any information they find embarrassing, simply by declaring it a threat to national security.  These are certainly lessons the United States could teach by example.

Almost certainly, if they follow our example, our rebel allies will learn that mistreatment and permanently detaining foreign nationals without any form of due process is the new norm.  After all, at Guantanamo Bay, the United States is, even now, holding men in cages where they will likely stay for the rest of their lives, while inexperienced "new bosses" reinstate the ill-advised and inhumane policies of years past.  Meanwhile, the American public remains pleasantly disengaged, safe in their belief that, as citizens, such terrible treatment could never be visited upon them.

Recently, major newspapers reported President Obama had signed an executive order granting "more rights" to Guantanamo detainees.  Unfortunately, while the President did, in fact, sign an executive order, the new Guantanamo policy is virtually identical to the Bush administration's discredited policy of secret review by mysterious people in a hidden location with no rules of evidence or meaningful standards of review.   Perhaps our rebel allies will learn not to bother devising new policies if they can simply repackage policies that have failed in the past?

Indefinite detention is the New-American notion that courts, trials, and evidence are antiquated concepts when viewed in the context of national security.  If the executive branch suspects you might be dangerous, you are condemned to life in a cage.  At the same time, the senior official overseeing America's "military commissions" has issued a 26-page "protective order," ensuring no lawyer (military or civilian) can establish or maintain a meaningful attorney-client relationship with those caged in Guantanamo.  After all, such relationships might lead to challenges against the legitimacy of imprisonment without trial.  And we wouldn't want that.

Just think, if our new allies in Libya follow our lead, they may one day demonstrate what they have learned against us.  If so, we should take a moment to apologize to our children for the legacy they will endure, the very same legacy our ancestors tried so hard to protect us against.  Unfortunately, this time there will be no ship setting sail for a better life.

The views expressed in this article do not represent the views of the Department of Defense or the United States government. Lt. Col. Wingard is a military lawyer who represents Fayiz al-Kandari and has served for 26 years in the military. When not on active duty, he is a public defender in the city of Pittsburgh.

***

here; That link includes one specific to only *Fayiz al-Kandari’s story here (very similar to Hicks’ in that he was sold for bounty).

Here are audio and video interviews with Lt. Col. Wingard, one by David Shuster, one by Ana Marie Cox, and more. My guest commentary at BuzzFlash is here.

Lt. Col. Barry Wingard is a military attorney who represents Fayiz Al-Kandari in the Military Commission process and in no way represents the opinions of his home state. When not on active duty, Colonel Wingard is a public defender in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

If you are inclined to help rectify these injustices: Twitterers, use the hashtag #FreeFayiz. We have organized a team to get these stories out. If you are interested in helping Fayiz out, e-mail me at The Political Carnival, address in sidebar to the right; or tweet me at @GottaLaff.

If you’d like to see other ways you can take action, go here and scroll down to the end of the article.

Then read Jane Mayer’s book The Dark Side. You’ll have a much greater understanding of why I post endlessly about this, and why I’m all over the CIA deception issues, too.

More of Fayiz’s story here, at Answers.com.

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

My Tortured Journey With Former Guantanamo Detainee David Hicks

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

David Hicks, author of "Guantanamo: My Journey." (Image: Random House Australia)

Crack investigative reporter and dear friend Jason Leopold has a new piece up, an important one at Truthout, and he has graciously permitted me to share it with you. However, I’ll only post part of it. Please go here to read the whole thing:

I've been struggling these past few weeks.

I read a book written by a former Guantanamo detainee named David Hicks titled "Guantanamo: My Journey." It's a powerful and heartbreaking memoir and it made a profound impact on me emotionally. [...]

This is the first interview he's granted since he was released from the "least worst place" in 2007. Click here to read the full Q&A. [...]

Hicks was picked up at a taxi stand by the Northern Alliance in November 2001 and sold to US forces for about $1,500.* Hicks was detainee 2002, the second person processed into Guantanamo on January 11, 2002, the day the facility opened.

Hicks was brutally tortured. Psychologically and physically for four years, maybe longer. He was injected in the back of his neck with unknown drugs. He was sodomized with a foreign object. He spent nearly a year in solitary confinement. He was beaten once for ten hours. He was threatened with death. He was placed in painful stress positions. He was exposed to extremely cold temperatures, loud music and strobe lights designed to disorient his senses.

I've been obsessed with the torture and rendition program since details of it first surfaced nearly a decade ago...  [T]here's something about the crimes committed by the Bush administration in our name that haunts me.

I have never spoken to a former detainee before I phoned Hicks at his home in Sydney, Australia, a few days before the New Year. There was something surreal about listening to Hicks' voice as he described his suffering in painstaking detail. Maybe it was the fact that there was a real person on the other end of the receiver and not just a name on a charge sheet. I found it incredibly difficult to separate the reporter from the human being once Hicks stopped speaking. Before I hung up the phone after our first conversation, I told Hicks I was sorry. [...]

Five years ago, I published my memoir, "News Junkie," and, like Hicks, I too was brutally honest about my own feelings of alienation, my battle with drug and alcohol addiction, a desire for attention, a desperate need to belong and a terrible choice I made in my early 20s to ingratiate myself with a couple of made members of a New York City crime family.

Admitting that I share some things in common with Hicks scares me. It's another reason I believe I felt paralyzed.

I wanted to approach this as a straight news story and simply report that Hicks was tortured, that he was abandoned by his country, used as a political pawn by Australia's former Prime Minister John Howard in his bid for reelection and forced to plead guilty to a charge of providing material support for terrorism in order to finally be freed from Guantanamo. But I've written so many of those reports and all of them end with a shrug here, some outrage there and no one being held accountable.

So, I've made the decision that I would expose my own vulnerability and tell you how my interview with the man dubbed the "Australian Taliban" has weighed heavily on my mind. I still cannot comprehend what could drive a human being to torture another human being. Hicks said, at Guantanamo, "torture was driven by anger and frustration.

Please read the whole thing here. Jason dug deep for this one... well, deeper than usual.

****

here; That link includes one specific to only *Fayiz al-Kandari’s story here (very similar to Hicks' in that he was sold for bounty).

Here are audio and video interviews with Lt. Col. Wingard, one by David Shuster, one by Ana Marie Cox, and more. My guest commentary at BuzzFlash is here.

Lt. Col. Barry Wingard is a military attorney who represents Fayiz Al-Kandari in the Military Commission process and in no way represents the opinions of his home state. When not on active duty, Colonel Wingard is a public defender in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

If you are inclined to help rectify these injustices: Twitterers, use the hashtag #FreeFayiz. We have organized a team to get these stories out. If you are interested in helping Fayiz out, e-mail me at The Political Carnival, address in sidebar to the right; or tweet me at @GottaLaff.

If you’d like to see other ways you can take action, go here and scroll down to the end of the article.

Then read Jane Mayer’s book The Dark Side. You’ll have a much greater understanding of why I post endlessly about this, and why I’m all over the CIA deception issues, too.

More of Fayiz’s story here, at Answers.com.

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Three Dead Bodies

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Lt. Col. Barry Wingard represents Guantanamo Bay detainee Fayiz al-Kandari, as you know if you’ve read my posts for the past year or so, covering Fayiz’s incarceration and abuse.

He has written an op-ed that he would like us to share with you. We do so gladly (bolding is mine):

On January 11, 2011, Kuwaiti citizen Mohammad Ghazzai Al-Mutairi was reportedly beaten and tortured to death by members of the Kuwaiti police force (part of Kuwait's Ministry of Interior). Of course, in the interest of "security," what actually transpired will never truly be known. Nonetheless, this horrific example of how the Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior values human life may help explain why two other Kuwaiti citizens have been confined at Guantanamo Bay for more than nine years without Kuwait ever formally demanding their return. In fact, given the Minister of Interior's recently leaked opinion that Guantanamo detainees should be returned to Afghanistan to be killed, it is clear neither Kuwait nor the United States retains the moral authority they once held to champion human rights throughout the world.

As an Air Force JAG officer, I represent Fayiz al-Kandari, one of two Kuwaitis now in their tenth year of confinement, without trial, at America's notorious island prison. As Fayiz' attorney, I cannot help but feel the recent death of Mohammad Al-Mutairi does not bode well for my client. In fact, given President Obama's preference for indefinite detention and the Kuwaiti government's unwillingness to prevent such detention, Kuwait may be responsible for not one-- but three dead bodies.

Like Mohammad Al-Mutari, Fayiz al-Kandari was beaten and abused by government officials who believed physical assault was an appropriate means of extracting information. But unlike Mohammad Al-Mutari, whose fatal abuse was relatively brief, Fayiz was beaten and abused for a much longer period of time. He is arguably fortunate to have survived such an ordeal. But, if Fayiz survived only to die in a cage, he has only prolonged the inevitable. His torment will likely continue until he is returned home in a box.

As the most powerful nation the world has ever known, the United States once stood as a hallmark of human rights. But in the wake of "enhanced interrogation" and in the shadow of "indefinite detention," can the United States still claim the moral authority to police human rights abuses by other nations? In Fayiz's case, for example, the United States has elected to hold him indefinitely, without trial, because its evidence is too weak to prove any offense in a legitimate court. I say again . . . Fayiz will be presumed guilty and spend the rest of his life in confinement because the government's "evidence" is too weak to convict him.

If Kuwait wants to reassert its commitment to human rights, it should begin by demanding justice for its citizens detained at Guantanamo Bay. And, if the United States wishes to regain its status as the world's champion of human rights, it should honor such a demand by one of its closest allies. At the same time, the citizens of Kuwait and the United States must ensure their governments take meaningful action and are held accountable for their actions. Otherwise, if such individual human rights abuses are allowed to continue, the clock begins to tick for you, me, and those close to us.

The views expressed in this article do not represent the views of the Department of Defense or the United States government. Lt. Col. Wingard is a military lawyer who represents Fayiz al-Kandari and has served for 27 years in the military. When not on active duty, he is a public defender in the city of Pittsburgh.

If you would like to help Fayiz, please sign the petition here.

***

here; That link includes one specific to only Fayiz al-Kandari’s story here.

Here are audio and video interviews with Lt. Col. Wingard, one by David Shuster, one by Ana Marie Cox, and more. My guest commentary at BuzzFlash is here.

Lt. Col. Barry Wingard is a military attorney who represents Fayiz Al-Kandari in the Military Commission process and in no way represents the opinions of his home state. When not on active duty, Colonel Wingard is a public defender in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

If you are inclined to help rectify these injustices: Twitterers, use the hashtag #FreeFayiz. We have organized a team to get these stories out. If you are interested in helping Fayiz out, e-mail me at The Political Carnival, address in sidebar to the right; or tweet me at @GottaLaff.

If you’d like to see other ways you can take action, go here and scroll down to the end of the article.

Then read Jane Mayer’s book The Dark Side. You’ll have a much greater understanding of why I post endlessly about this, and why I’m all over the CIA deception issues, too.

More of Fayiz’s story here, at Answers.com.

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Terror, Intelligence and You: Partners at the fear Ballet

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Lt. Col. Barry Wingard represents Guantanamo Bay detainee Fayiz al-Kandari, as you know if you’ve read my posts for the past year or so, covering Fayiz’s incarceration and abuse.

He has written an op-ed that he would like us to share with you. We do so gladly:

Terror, Intelligence and You: Partners at the fear Ballet

Have we become a nation that values intelligence and secrecy over individual rights and government transparency? Can we as a nation be secure without having to dominate those abroad in never-ending wars, while single-handedly garrisoning the world? At the onset, I acknowledge that intelligence is important and that certain information must be kept secret. Nonetheless, when intelligence and secrecy are used to control and manipulate public opinion, hide embarrassing mistakes, foster political gain, or deny basic human rights, they become counterproductive to the American way of life.

In the aftermath of the Soviet Union's failed attempt to convert the world to Communism, the United States found a new global threat against which to focus its efforts. In our war against the tactic of terrorism, we use color charts to represent threat levels, duct tape and plastic to ward off danger, and colorful scenarios derived from enhanced interrogation to justify draconian action. Today, if an American is not afraid, he is a coward--and if an American defends an "Unlawful Enemy Combatant's" basic human right to a fair trial, he may be considered a traitor in the “homeland.”

If there is one thing that is consistent about US intelligence, it is that it is consistently wrong. In the past decade, intelligence apparatus similar to one of Orwell's ministries warned of frogmen attacking the Brooklyn Bridge, crop dusters of death, poisoned water supplies, dirty bombs, and devastating attacks by bus, train, truck, limousine, and helicopter. These warnings have been based upon undisclosed sources and methods, kept secret in the interest of "national security." Conveniently, such fanciful scenarios have fit nicely into American media culture, where international super villains attempt to control the earth on a daily basis, and where American heroes like 24's Jack Bauer have no choice but to employ brutality and torture for the greater good.

All this ultimately leads to "indefinite detention," the notion that the same people who brought you such reliable information in the past should now be trusted to determine certain individuals must be presumed guilty and confined for the rest of their lives without trial. It is, in no uncertain terms, a complete deprivation of liberty without due process--and a complete departure from essential, time- tested American values. Nonetheless, "indefinite detention" gathers widespread support through the fear-driven notions of protecting "national security" and fighting the "war on terror."

But make no mistake. If government is permitted to disregard the rule of law in the name of "national security," such unbridled action is unlikely to be applied only against foreign nationals. As a result, if only to protect our own freedom, every American citizen must demand that, before condemning any human being to confinement for life, a government must prove some actual criminal offense, beyond a reasonable doubt, in a fair, open, and transparent court proceeding, at a minimum.

By rejecting the notion of "ignorance as strength," I believe we may find a new sense of security as close as Guantanamo Bay. It is essential that we return to the basic American principles of individual freedom, justice, and transparency, while understanding that secrecy, surveillance, and blind faith ultimately make us less secure. As individual Americans we should never forget that holding government accountable is our best hope of survival as a free people. Today, it may be my client, Fayiz al-Kandari--but tomorrow it may be you.

The views expressed in this article do not represent the views of the Department of Defense or the United States government. Lt. Col. Wingard is a military lawyer who represents Fayiz al-Kandari and has served for 26 years in the military. When not on active duty, he is a public defender in the city of Pittsburgh.

Please sign the “Free Fayiz” petition at Care2. Just type in "Free Fayiz" in the search window to access petition.

***

here; That link includes one specific to only Fayiz al-Kandari’s story here.

Here are audio and video interviews with Lt. Col. Wingard, one by David Shuster, one by Ana Marie Cox, and more. My guest commentary at BuzzFlash is here.

Lt. Col. Barry Wingard is a military attorney who represents Fayiz Al-Kandari in the Military Commission process and in no way represents the opinions of his home state. When not on active duty, Colonel Wingard is a public defender in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

If you are inclined to help rectify these injustices: Twitterers, use the hashtag #FreeFayiz. We have organized a team to get these stories out. If you are interested in helping Fayiz out, e-mail me at The Political Carnival, address in sidebar to the right; or tweet me at @GottaLaff.

If you’d like to see other ways you can take action, go here and scroll down to the end of the article.

Then read Jane Mayer’s book The Dark Side. You’ll have a much greater understanding of why I post endlessly about this, and why I’m all over the CIA deception issues, too.

More of Fayiz’s story here, at Answers.com.

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Ex-Gitmo Official Was Told Not to Discuss Policy Surrounding Antimalarial Drug Used on Detainees

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Crack investigative reporter and dear friend Jason Leopold is following up on his previous post, along with his co-writer Jeffrey Kaye. As always, he has graciously permitted me to share the new piece with you. However, I’ll only share part of it. Please go here to read the whole thing:

Military officials were instructed not to publicly discuss a decision made in January 2002 to presumptively treat all Guantanamo detainees with a high dosage of a controversial antimalarial drug that has been directly linked to suicide, hallucinations, seizures and other severe neuropsychological side effects, according to a retired Navy captain who signed the policy directive.

Capt. Albert J. Shimkus, the former commanding officer and chief surgeon for both of the Naval Hospital at Guantanamo Bay and Joint Task Force 160, which administered health care to detainees, defended the unprecedented practice, first reported by Truthout earlier this month, to administer 1250 mg of the drug mefloquine to all "war on terror" prisoners transferred to Guantanamo within the first 24 hours after their arrival, regardless of whether they had malaria or not. The 1250 mg dosage is what is used to treat individuals who have malaria and is five times higher than the prophylactic dose given to individuals to prevent the disease. One tropical disease expert said there is no "medical justification" for the practice. [...]

Although there were two media reports in 2002 that quoted Shimkus saying "war on terror" detainees were given antimalarial medication, neither he nor any other military or Pentagon official ever disclosed to lawmakers or military personnel who raised questions regarding about efficacy of mefloquine, that mass presumptive treatment was the policy in place at Guantanamo. [...]

Truthout was unable to locate a single malaria expert who was willing to go on the record to defend the government's policy of mass presumptive treatment of the disease using mefloquine or any other antimalarial drug.

This is an extensive piece, and Jason and Jeffrey have been working hard to bring it to you.  Please go read it here.

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

David Corn: President Obama, GOPers Worked Together to Kill Bush Torture Probe

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Back in our archives, which I can't seem to access at the moment, you can find post after post about my giddiness over Spain's efforts to prosecute BushCo for torturing detainees. I've expressed subsequent frustration over the Obama administration's reluctance to so much as investigate possible (probable) war crimes perpetrated by George Bush, Dick Cheney, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, et al... allegedly. I'm bending over backwards here to sound legally correct, although come on, could this be any more obvious?

President Obama has stated repeatedly that he's determined to look forward, not back. But how does one prosecute a future crime?  They've already happened, unless I'm missing a dimension somewhere.

Today, David Corn offers his take on the subject:

In its first months in office, the Obama administration sought to protect Bush administration officials facing criminal investigation overseas for their involvement in establishing policies the that governed interrogations of detained terrorist suspects. A "confidential" April 17, 2009, cable sent from the US embassy in Madrid to the State Department—one of the 251,287 cables obtained by WikiLeaks—details how the Obama administration, working with Republicans, leaned on Spain to derail this potential prosecution.

When I heard David Corn discuss this on this morning's Thom Hartmann show-- well, let's just say my cats were lucky they weren't in the room.

Bush wasn't on the list, but the others who Spain targeted were David Addington, Cheney's chief of staff and legal adviser; William Haynes, the Pentagon's former general counsel; former undersecretary of defense for policy, Douglas Feith; Jay Bybee, former head of the Office of Legal Counsel; and John Yoo, from the Office of Legal Counsel.

The Americans, according to this cable, "underscored that the prosecutions would not be understood or accepted in the US and would have an enormous impact on the bilateral relationship" between Spain and the United States. Here was a former head of the GOP and a representative of a new Democratic administration (headed by a president who had decried the Bush-Cheney administration's use of torture) jointly applying pressure on Spain to kill the investigation of the former Bush officials. [...]

Several human rights groups filed a brief urging this judge to keep the case alive, citing the Obama administration's failure to prosecute the Bush officials. Since then, there's been no action. The Obama administration essentially got what it wanted. The case of the Bush Six went away.

Before this report by Corn came out, there was a lot of reporting on controversy surrounding Judge Baltasar Garzón, and another judge eventually took over.

Keith Olbermann is now reporting about this as we speak. Jonathan Turley is his guest. Paraphrasing slightly: The Obama administration is in violation of our own treaty, Turley says, then tried to come down on other countries when they tried to enforce the law.

David Corn has more here.

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare