Red Cross Report on Treatment of CIA Detainees Published

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 2:26pm
Last night, the New York Review of Books website published the International Committee of the Red Cross's (ICRC) 40-page report on the treatment of the 14 so-called "high-value detainees" (PDF) held at Guantánamo. This is especially stunning because this report was previously classified — the document itself states that it is "strictly confidential" and intended for CIA eyes only. The report concluded that the CIA used torture and that "[t]he totality of the circumstances in which the fourteen were held effectively amounted to an arbitrary deprivation of liberty and enforced disappearance."

Binyam Mohamed Released from Gitmo

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 3:45pm

At 1:11 p.m. GMT, a plane carrying Binyam Mohamed touched down in West London. Mohamed, an Ethiopian citizen and resident of the U.K., is a victim of extraordinary rendition. He'd been at Guantánamo for four years, but his ordeal began in…

Judge OKs Force-Feeding of Gitmo Detainees

By Nahal Zamani, Human Rights Program at 6:57pm

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler refused to stop Guantánamo guards from using a restraint chair while force-feeding hunger-striking detainees in the detention facility. In Mohammed Al-Adahi, et al., v. Obama, et al, two Yemeni detainees, Mohammad Ali Abdullah Bawazir and Zahir Omar Khamis Bin Hamdoon, brought a case against President Obama, arguing against the use of the restraint chair. Carol Rosenberg, of the Miami Herald, describes the gruesome and heart-wrenching procedure:

[G]uards strap a shackled captive into a chair and Velcro his head to a metal restraint. Camp staff then tether a tube through the man's nose and down to his stomach to pump in a protein shake twice a day. Each feeding lasts about an hour.
Both Bawazir and Hamdoon allege that it is not only unnecessary to use the restraint chair, but that they were also strapped in for more than an hour — the time needed to complete a feeding. The medical records from Guantánamo also support this claim. Bawazir maintains that he has never protested his feedings, and should not have to be restrained. Both expressed concern that military personnel, rather than medical personnel, have begun to administer the force-feeding.

Judge Kessler's refusal of their motion glosses over the administration of the force-feeding by military instead of medical personnel, and most importantly, allows guards to continue their use of the chair. The opinion also stresses that the court has no jurisdiction in this matter because even though the Supreme Court found section 7 of the Military Commissions Act (MCA)—the part that denies habeas corpus rights to detainees—unconstitutional, the rest of the MCA has not been struck down, and Congress has barred litigation over conditions of confinement at Guantánamo. (This is one of the reasons why Congress should repeal the MCA.)

Strange Bedfellows at Guantánamo

By Jamil Dakwar, Director, ACLU Human Rights Program at 5:23pm
Photo: AP

(Originally posted on Huffington Post.)

I've been observing the military commissions since 2004, and Guantánamo never felt more surreal or otherworldly than it did in what we hope were its final days of operation. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, while then President-elect Obama prepared for his inauguration the next day, the Guantánamo military commissions charged forward with the pretrial hearing of Omar Khadr, the mental competency hearing of Ramzi Bin l-Shibh, and other proceedings in the case of the "9/11 defendants," the men charged with co-conspiring in the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Prior to the hearings on that Monday, the prosecution and defense teams in two cases filed a joint request to postpone the proceedings in anticipation of the changing of the guard in Washington. The military judges denied this request. Instead, "the show must go on" was the message in the days and hours before President Obama took the oath of office and had an opportunity to issue his executive orders. Neither prosecutors, defense lawyers, nor judges acknowledged during the Monday proceedings that there was an imminent change in the way the incoming administration would deal with the military commissions. Federal courts were closed on Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but it was business as usual at Guantánamo. Ironically, even the Gitmo Gym was closed on Monday, but not the departing Bush administration's kangaroo courts! Three days later, President Obama issued executive orders to close Guantánamo within one year, suspend the military commissions, prohibit CIA prisons, and enforce the ban on torture.

Obama's Child Soldiers

By Joel Engardio, ACLU at 5:42pm

Six days after the inauguration of President Obama, the U.S. is scheduled to begin the first trial of a child soldier accused of war crimes since World War II. This video shows why President Obama must take swift action to end the unconstitutional…

A Shameful Anniversary

By Astine Suleimanyan, Washington Legislative Office at 5:09pm

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Today marks the seventh anniversary since the first 20 detainees arrived at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Since that…

A Plea to Obama, from Guantánamo

By Jennifer Turner, Human Rights Researcher, Human Rights Program, ACLU at 11:35am

(Originally posted on Daily Kos.)

Yesterday marked the final military commission hearing before the eve of President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration. The question of what will become of Guantánamo was a subject of much speculation…

9/11 Family Members Challenge Legitimacy Of Guantánamo Military Commissions

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 9:57pm

Several press reports this week quoted people who lost loved ones on 9/11 and who were selected by the Pentagon to travel to Gitmo and attend legal proceedings for detainees accused of planning the terrorist attacks. The articles included statements…

Video Blog From Gitmo

By Joel Engardio, ACLU at 2:22pm

The footage might be shaky, but the experience is equally raw. See ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero as he films himself in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Anthony was at Gitmo for the military commission hearings of five detainees charged with 9/11-related…

An Insider's View of Gitmo This Week

By Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, ACLU at 6:04pm

I just stepped off an airplane from Gitmo last night and thought it would be a good time to offer an insider’s take on what really happened down there this week. Unlike the many stories that have been in the press, what follows is a view from the defense table that provides a fuller perspective on the proceedings than what’s been reported.

As you might know, the ACLU has, along with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), created the John Adams Project, through which we have sponsored expert civilian counsel to team up with the military defense lawyers representing the 9/11 defendants. It’s part of our ongoing struggle to bring a modicum of fairness to these sham prosecutions and to get Guantánamo shut down for once and for all.

As I write this today our struggle to shut Gitmo and shutter the military commissions is far from over and is anything but a fait accompli.

You probably read in the papers that on Monday, all five defendants expressed an interest in entering guilty pleas in the 9/11 case.This wasn't unexpected news to anyone, as they essentially expressed that viewpoint from the very first hearing in June of this year.

What did change was that the defendants have been meeting as a group since the last hearing. They have recently asked to have all pending law and evidentiary motions withdrawn and that they be allowed to proceed to enter guilty pleas and be sentenced to death. All five men submitted a handwritten motion to the military judge on November 4, 2008 (Election Day) stating that this is how they would like to proceed.

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