Archive for February, 2011

Glenn Greenwald Tells Chilling Truths

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

This from the transcript of an interview on Democracy Now! with lawyer Glenn Greenwald about the situation with Julian Assange:

“But what is so interesting about this is that the reason [Julian Assange is] contesting the extradition so vehemently is because what he fears most is being turned over to American authorities. And interestingly, I’ve spoken with a lot of people who have been involved in WikiLeaks, both previously and currently, and all of them, to the person, no matter what their nationality is, the thing they fear most is ending up in the hands of the American authorities and in the American, quote-unquote, “justice system,” which is really quite telling that that’s now the great fear that people around the world have, given that, as foreign nationals, they know that when things like national security is involved and threats of secrecy are involved, they end up in black holes, where they’re denied all justice. And so, that’s what’s driving Assange is the fear that he will end up in the hands of the American authorities.”

Here is the link to the report on Democracy Now!

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Greenwald himself has been targeted by powerful internet “security” firms for speaking out about the legal issues in the case of Assange and Wikileaks.  He defends their rights as journalists to find out and publish the truth.  Ironically, Greenwald says that those companies had been circulating via email “some very nefarious, threatening and probably illegal measures.”

Read the entire transcript and see the segment here.

I know even more acutely now from working on the stories of the remaining 172 prisoners in the Guantanamo torture camp, that the fears Glenn mentions are founded on facts, on what the US has been doing for the past decade with apparent impunity.

It is imperative that I speak out against these crimes against humanity by a now lawless US.  It is good that a few people like Glenn Greenwald, Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman are working in the media as well.

He Never Even Killed a Chicken

Friday, February 25th, 2011

I do wish I knew Arabic.  Muhammad al-Hamiri, another of the Yemenis, only nineteen years old when seized and sold into US captivity, is reported by Andy Worthington to have said that not only did he never have a weapon or fight anyone, but he never even killed a chicken.

He could have meant that quite literally, but I am wondering and could not find out whether or not killing a chicken might be something like not harming a flea, an expression used to show complete non violence.  Whatever al-Hamiri meant, it is clear that he is no terrorist, meant no harm to the US or anyone, and should never have been imprisoned, much less tortured all these years.

Like Latif and al-Qadasi, Muhammad al-Hamiri was seeking medical treatment.  He says a British resident was responsible for persuading him to go into Afghanistan where he wasted six months doing nothing.  Another of the “unidentified sources” allege that he trained at the camp at al-Farouq and “spoke with Osama bin Laden,” but there is no evidence he did.  He may have stayed at a house with someone associated with the Taliban, but we must remember that the Taliban were ubiquitous; there would be no reason for a Yemeni not to stay in a guest house owned by a Talib, or indeed by any person in Afghanistan.

His CSRT [US military document] quotes him as saying very eloquently that “the charges against him and the others ‘were made up in order to keep him and other Muslims at the camp,’ because he ‘never had a weapon, never carried one and never even killed a chicken.’”

He Has a Bad Back

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Khalid al-Qadasi is another Yemeni who says he was seeking medical treatment in Pakistan, where he was seized and sold to the US.  His “Unclassified Summary” from the US authorities at Guantanamo, as reported by Andy Worthington,  says “he claims that he is willing to spend the rest of his life in prison and has emphatically stated that he would rather die than answer questions.”

After years of torture and interrogation, the US has brought no charges against al-Qadasi.  There are, as frequently, unidentified sources who allege he was a mujahideen, but there is no evidence of his having been.  The US alleges he had been a member of the army in his native Yemen when young and went to Afghanistan in July 2001.
For himself, Khalid al-Qadasi is reported to say, he “left Yemen for Pakistan to obtain medical treatment,” and he “never possessed any weapons in Afghanistan, as he was unable to fight due to his bad back.”

I join my voice with all those who demand that Khalid al-Qadasi be freed now to go wherever he chooses.

Jack’s Open Statement to the Current Administration

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Frankly, I am having trouble supporting the administration to the extent I am looking toward a Progressive in 2012:

Briefly my objections are:

  1. The unnecessary Wars.
  2. The Use of Torture.
  3. The unjustified FBI attack on Activists in MN and IL.
  4. The medical Reform is totally inadequate and slanted greatly toward the Insurance Industry.
  5. The unnecessary tax Cuts for the Super Rich.
  6. The unclear position on Social Security.
  7. The obscene position against Palestine in favor of the murderous actions of Israel.
  8. The failure to take a clear definitive position in Wisconsin and the other state capitals which are seeing resistance to budget cuts and union busting.

I have more objections, but I won’t bore you. Let me say that since the time I supported Obama he has been on a non-stop road to destroy my support. I guess it can be said that I am part of the base that he has turned his back on. We are pretty transparent so it is safe to say he did it on purpose as if we do not matter. I feel differently.

Support Peace for the Children of Gaza and Israel
Jack Smith
Loose Canon Law – Shooting Straight
9728 – 3rd Ave NW -  Seattle, WA
206-321-4815 – erie1917@gmail.com

Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

“To my mind, the case of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif shows the Obama administration at its most callous,” says Andy Worthington, whose full remarks can be read here.  In my opinion, this case shows the cruelty of the Obama regime and the depravity of the US government.  I believe that History is going to be less reticent than many, in public and private statements, have been about what exactly is the nature of the US government at this time.  Depravity seems to me to be an appropriate word.  Those who come later may find it not strong enough.

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Adnan Farhan Abdu Latif continues to suffer agonies in Guantanamo, like many of the other Yemenis whom the Obama regime will not release, regardless of their previous clearance or their obvious innocence.  Obama prefers to protect his political future to appearing “soft on terrorism” after the still murky event of the “underwear bomber” from Yemen.

So grave is Latif’s condition that Amnesty International wrote in May of 2010:

“He states that ‘IRF [Immediate Response Force] teams enter my cell on [a] regular basis. They throw me and drag me on the floor two days before writing this letter [the IRF team] strangled me and pressed hard behind my ears .  I lost consciousness for more than an hour’. His lawyer told Amnesty International that he has cuts and bruises. Adnan Latif also wrote in his letter in March that the circumstances in which he is living ‘makes death more desirable than living. I find no taste for life, sleep or rest’.  He has made several suicide attempts in Guantanamo. On 10 May 2009,  Adnan Latif cut one of his wrists during a meeting with his lawyer at Guantanamo and threw his blood at his lawyer. Thereafter, he was made to meet with his lawyer in shackles.

“Adnan Latif was previously held in solitary confinement in a psychiatric ward at Guantanamo. Amnesty International does not have further information about Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif’s current health, but given his previous suicide attempts, his reported physical and mental health problems, combined with his continued indefinite detention without charge or trial, Amnesty International remains seriously concerned for his physical and psychological health.

“Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif’s family, including his young son, live in Yemen.”

Read the full account here and another from 2009 here.

According to Worthington’s report, Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif was in Afghanistan in 2001 seeking affordable health care for repercussions from a serious head injury sustained in a car accident in 1994.  He had spent years trying to get treatment and went to Afghanistan because he had heard of a Pakistani who offered health care there and would treat him.  Many of us in the US who cannot afford health care should be able to relate to this man’s situation.

When the US invaded, Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif fled to the border town of Khost and crossed into Pakistan where he was taken hostage with a group of other men who appeared to be Arabs.  He, a sick man, was sold for $5000.00 to the US for “looking like an Arab,” has suffered unspeakable horrors and does so today.

Though it must have been obvious to anyone who inquired just a little bit that Latif was injured and ill, the US was not inquiring.  This was after the infamous loss [deliberate release?] of al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders who were airlifted out of Kunduz at Cheney’s order and the subsequent need to fill up Guantanamo with anybody they could find.  Read a previous post on this blog about that here.

The US interrogators and “processors” of these persons sold by the bounty hunters had been trained that they were getting the “worst of the worst.”  US military personnel [and CIA agents specifically trained to torture?], some of whom are already horrified at what they did, believed what they were told and did not think that anything the persons remanded to them said could be credible.  Furthermore, few of them speak any language but English.

I always come back to Colonel Yvonne Bradley, the JAG lawyer sent to Guantanamo in 2005 who had been told the prisoners there were the “worst of the worst” and discovered that her government lied.  This was years later, in 2005, and she was assigned to defend one of the prisoners.  I still wish that some of the military and other US personnel had had her courage when confronted with a person like Latif.  I wish one of them had been willing, as she was, to risk her career for the truth.

They couldn’t or at least didn’t.  It appears that the members of the IRF still can’t.

Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif is a sick man whose sufferings and torture during more than nine years of US imprisonment  are incalculable.

The contradiction between the increasingly “christian” US military and the torture and abuse of the prisoners in the military prison at Guantanamo is shocking.  How can one reconcile a god whom they claim is love with the torture and abuse of innocent people for political and imperialist ends.  For that matter, how can they justify torture of any prisoner, even the most culpable?

The contradiction between the statements of US leaders like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, their reprimands of the leaders of other countries on the issue of human rights and their continuing use of torture and abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo and other US prisons does not go unnoticed in the world.

I fear a day of dire reckoning for the US.  Like Ray McGovern, himself the victim of abuse whose personal reflections on that you can read here, I want to be on the right side of history.

I demand the immediate release of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif and that he be returned to his family.  I demand indemnification for him.  Money can never give him back these nine years and two months of his life, but it can help get him good medical care of his choice.

I must continue to resist the torture center at Guantanamo and demand it be closed now.

Paula Reports from Abu Dhabi

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Here’s a personal report about Libya.  I listen to Aljazeera/English every day.  Recently I couldn’t get that channel for 2 days or it was in and out but other channels were fine.  I asked the apartment management to check my TV.  Turns out, according to local newspaper here and Reuters, that Libya is trying to jam Aljazeera’s signal because they don’t like how they are covering the protests and violence by Gadaffi’s regime.   Fortunately, I’m getting it again.

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He Took His Sister to Be Married In Afghanistan and Never Came Back

Friday, February 18th, 2011

What would it be like to take your sister to her wedding in another country and never return to your own country and family, your own wife and children, but be tortured in Guantanamo and held for over nine years without cause?

This is the case of Mohammed al Adahi, a family man himself with a wife and  two children.  He took a vacation in August 2001 from the oil company where he had worked for over twenty years, having never left his native Yemen before.  During that vacation, al Adahi accompanied his sister to her wedding in Afghanistan.

During the trip, he was seized on a bus in Pakistan and sent eventually to Guantanamo, where he was tortured as all the prisoners were.

Bloomberg reports:

“He [Al-Adahi] testified that he doesn’t believe in killing innocent people and never planned to fight Americans.”  Once again, there is not a scrap of evidence that al Adahi ever did any harm to the US or indeed to anyone.

It does appear that his sister’s husband was connected to al-Qaeda, but there is no evidence that he had any connection to that group.  Indeed, Judge Gladys Kessler granted his habeas corpus petition in August 2009, because she found no evidence that al Adahi had anything to do with al-Qaeda.

judge_kessler.jpg Judge Gladys Kessler

I want to quote at this point directly from Andy Worthington’s account, which is the source of most of these stories, though part of this particular case was also covered by Bloomberg.

In telling how Judge Kessler’s ruling was overturned Andy says:

“Judge A. Raymond Randolph (notorious for endorsing every piece of Guantánamo-related legislation that was subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court) launched an unprincipled personal attack on Judge Kessler, essentially ignoring the merits of the case, and describing her ruling as ‘manifestly incorrect — indeed startling,’ in an opinion in which he also attempted to claim that the ‘preponderance of the evidence’ standard used in the District Courts, which is already a much lower threshold than in federal court trials, was too high.

“Judge Randolph’s interventions, meanwhile, have been even more troubling. Having defended every piece of legislation related to Guantánamo that was subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court during the Bush administration, he delighted, in July, in overturning the successful habeas petition of Mohammed al-Adahi, a Yemeni who had accompanied his sister to Afghanistan to marry a man connected to al-Qaeda, but who had won his habeas petition because Judge Gladys Kessler had concluded that al-Adahi himself was not ‘part of’ al-Qaeda.

“This appeared to be correct, but in a ruling notable for personal slurs against Judge Kessler’s integrity, Judge Randolph not only reversed al-Adahi’s successful petition, but also indicated that he thought that the burden of proof in the habeas cases was too high, even though the government only has to establish, by a preponderance of the evidence (a potentially very vague balance of probabilities), that the petitioners were ‘part of’ al-Qaeda and/or the Taliban to approve their ongoing detention.
In January of this year Bloomberg reports that the US Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal to reinstate that he be released from the torture camp at Guantanamo.

As Andy has pointed out, the underwear bomber of December 2009 caused the Obama regime to refuse to release any more of the prisoners from Yemen, even those who had been cleared before that, like al-Adahi.

Mohammed al-Adahi is another man who should never have been taken prisoner, never sent to Guantanamo much less tortured, which is never legal even for heinous criminals, never involved in this regugnant and illegal US gulag.  This is another example of the junk law, the real lawlessness, that characterizes the entire US system.

My tax money pays for that prison.  My tax money pays the head of the regime and the members of the Justice (sic) Department who handle these cases and the judges who make the decisions.   I am responsible.  My country is engaging in illegal activity.  I am working to stop this so that I can say truthfully that I did not participate in these illegal actions, that I am not like the “good Germans” of the Nazi era.  Are you?

Ray McGovern Attacked in Police Custody for Peaceful Act as Clinton Speaks

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

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Ray McGovern, 71 year old peace activist, after brutal treatment by police.

From the Partnership for Civil Justice website:

“As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave her speech at George Washington University yesterday condemning governments that arrest protestors and do not allow free expression, 71-year-old Ray McGovern was grabbed from the audience in plain view of her by police and an unidentified official in plain clothes, brutalized and left bleeding in jail. She never paused speaking. When Secretary Clinton began her speech, Mr. McGovern remained standing silently in the audience and turned his back. Mr. McGovern, a veteran Army officer who also worked as a C.I.A. analyst for 27 years, was wearing a Veterans for Peace t-shirt.

“Blind-sided by security officers who pounced upon him, Mr. McGovern remarked, as he was hauled out the door, “So this is America?” Mr. McGovern is covered with bruises, lacerations and contusions inflicted in the assault.”

Read the full account from that website here.

I had been moved earlier today by an article Ray wrote titled Recalling the Slaughter of Innocents published on Valentines Day.  It says in part:

“a short passage in Luke’s gospel leaped out at me. Jesus of Nazareth is warning … about what to expect if they remain faithful:

‘“Countries will fight each other … there will be terrifying things coming from the sky. Before all these things take place, however, you will be arrested and persecuted; you will be handed over to be tried … you will be brought before kings and rulers for my sake … Stand firm …

‘“This will be your chance to tell the Good News.’

“I’ve matured to the point where witnessing and risking arrest comes more naturally … and has become even more exhilarating. On the very snowy day of Dec. 16, 2010, when 131 witnesses against war were arrested at the White House gates at a rally arranged by Veterans for Peace, 42 of us insisted on standing trial.”

He goes on to say that they were dismissed.  I don’t know why this brutal assault on him today.  Except, of course, that he will not be silent.

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Here he stands with Daniel Ellsberg chained to the White House fence in protest on December 16th last year.

Ray.jpg  And here he is, the learned and respectable man who devotes his life to making this a better world.  I have heard him say many times that he is doing this work for his grandchildren, which always moves me because that is what drives my activism as well.

You can read about the many contributions of Ray McGovern to bringing about a better world on this blog  here and here and here among others.

I will join with others in expressing outrage at such brutality to anyone who protests peacefully and demand an apology and dismissal of all charges against Ray McGovern.  Will you also?

Ray says he wants to be on the right side of history.  He is.

Detaining a Cook Indefinitely?!?

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Ibrahim al Qosi of Sudan.jpg Ibrahim al-Qosi, prisoner in Guantanamo,  drawing by military court artist Janet Hamlin.

“Indefinitely detaining a 53-year-old man who will have served his sentence and been in custody more than 11 years for being a cook serves neither our national security or foreign policy interests,’’ said Navy Cmdr. Suzanne Lachelier, Ibrahim al Qosi’s attorney.  In fact, she said, “It bludgeons the interests of justice.”

The outrage at the injustice to her client reminded me of that of Colonel Yvonne Bradley, another military lawyer who represented prisoners at the US torture camp at Guantanamo Bay.   Colonel Bradley, who had joined the Air Force as a lawyer just after finishing law school, spoke movingly of the pride she had always felt about the military courts in which she began her career, courts where she found the best traditions of US justice upheld.  She said they were not perfect, as indeed few human institutions are perfect, but she had always felt good about the work she did and the system in which she worked.

By contrast, Colonel Bradley was appalled at the military commissions courts at the torture camp, which in her opinion were intended to summarily find the prisoners guilty and condemn them.  She remembered her pride in military courts and she was horrified.  You can read more about her here.

The case of al-Qosi is indeed horrifying.  The man may have actually been a cook for al Qaeda, but there has never been any evidence or charges of his having engaged in aggression against the US.  Al-Qosi was convicted, one of only three of the remaining prisoners at Guantanamo who has been as of now, of providing material support for terrorism, that vile “charge” that can mean that nearly anyone who has any contact with “terrorists,” including someone like President Jimmy Carter who has helped negotiate peace treaties and helped a number of countries now declared terrorists to make peace, could be charged.  This is outrageous non law, junk law; as Colonel Bradley said, it is a way to find people guilty summarily and condemn them.

After being tortured, sent to the hell that is Guantanamo, tried in a kangaroo court, convicted, and now serving a further term in a special part of that prison, al-Qosi may not be allowed to return to his home in Sudan when his term is over.  Sudan is considered a terrorist country.

I want to see the word terrorist banned from the language.  Let us rather speak of criminal countries, ones that break their own and international laws.  That would be the United States.  It is criminal that al-Qosi should have ever suffered all this.

Let us continue to demand that the US close the torture camp at Guantanamo, at Bagram, and at all other sites around the world.  Let us demand that US leaders who authorized these criminal acts be held accountable in real courts of law.

Ibrahim al-Qosi  must be set free to go wherever he chooses.

Another Yemeni Tourist Who Wanted to See How Things Were Done in Afghanistan

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Since I don’t speak any of the languages of the Middle East, the names of the prisoners are hard for me to remember and hard to even write correctly.  I don’t know what they sound like; I know that the transliteration into the Roman alphabet is just that, and that they do not write their names in this alphabet much, if ever.  Since I want to get to know them as real persons and to treat them in every way I can with the greatest respect, I work hard to get their names as right as my limitations permit–checking and double checking the spelling from Andy Worthington’s lists and paying close attention.

Riyad al-Radai, the second of the Yemeni “tourists” that Andy Worthington identified, is the tragic victim of US authorities’ complete and characteristic failures to respect the real people in their custody, leading to failure to distinguish names.  It appears likely that he is being confused with someone whose name is like his.

In al-Radai’s second ARB, those infamous Administrative Review Boards at Guantanamo that are supposed to pass for legal judicial review for the illegal incarceration of these prisoners, Worthington reports it saying that “al-Radai ‘used additional aliases of al-Sharqawi aka al-Hajj, which are identifiable with a Pakistani facilitator.’ This was nonsense, because the real al-Sharqawi (aka Riyadh the Facilitator) was already in US custody.”  All sorts of wild allegations against al-Radai appear to be based on this probably careless, but perhaps deliberate confusion of names by US authorities who don’t know any language but English and don’t care.  The US bias against other languages is part of its arrogant attitude that it is the “greatest country in the world,” “exceptional.”  Other people are not really important.

Al-Radai himself, in a first ARB, according to Worthington, said that “’everything in the Unclassified Summary was a big lie and that America had no choice but to keep him locked up since it would look bad if they released him after holding him for three years.’ He ‘repeatedly and strenuously; stated that he had been confused with some other prisoner, and that this mistake had started in Bagram [another US torture camp in Afghanistan that remains open and torturing], where, presumably, the’evidence’ against him was first established.”  He says, too, that he was in a hospital in Kabul, when he is alleged to have been working for the Taliban.

I always want to remember that internecine conflict among Afghan warlords, among whom the Taliban were just one group, took place long before the attacks on the US of September 11, 2001, and that even if a person was affiliated in some way with them or any of the warlords, that does not make them enemies or the US.  A number of the Yemenis were intrigued by the Taliban regime in Afghanistan because it claimed to be an Islamic one.  I quote Worthington again as he discusses a second of these ARBs in 2006:

” Al-Radai maintained that he had ‘wanted to find out what the Taliban was really all about,’ and one allegation — that after ‘seeing that the Taliban was trying to serve Islam, [he] decided to serve the Taliban in any manner except for fighting’ — sounded vaguely convincing, but it was surrounded by numerous other allegations that were patently absurd, which related to his previously aired claim that he had been mistaken for another man.”

As is the case of most of the prisoners who have ever been at Guantanamo, there are no formal charges and no evidence to support any of the allegations of these kangaroo courts the US set up in order to avoid giving these people Geneva Convention protections.  There is absolutely nothing to show that Riyad al-Radai is or was ever a threat to anyone.  Most of the prisoners at Guantanamo in similar circumstances have been released.  It is only the political cowardice of Barack Obama who does not want to be accused by opponents of letting anyone from Yemen, home, point of departure of the “underwear bomber” of December 2009 that keep al-Radai and the other Yemenis in the Guantanamo torture camp.

This is atrocious and appalling.  I join with all others who are demanding the immediate release of Riyad al-Radai, as well as all the others like him, and his return to his family and friends with an apology and indemnifications for the horrors he has endured.