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Please begin with an informative title:

January 11 is another day of infamy for the Bush administration. On January 11, 2002, the detention center at Guantanamo Bay received its first load of prisoners. Despite too many credible allegations of abusive treatment and miscarriage of justice, it still holds 275 prisoners, many under inhumane conditions. No doubt it will take a new president to prove to the world that America still respects human rights and dignity.

Intro

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GUANTANAMO AND BUSH ADMINISTRATION "HIGHLIGHTS"

Amnesty International has summarized the breakdown of the rule of law.

January 11, 2002 (Party Time At The Cuban Corral)

The first detainees are transferred to Guantánamo from Afghanistan and are held in wire mesh cages in an area known as Camp X-Ray.
February 7, 2002 (Bush Ignores The Geneva Conventions)
George W. Bush signs a memorandum stating that detainees will not qualify as prisoners of war and that Article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions (common Article 3) will not apply to them. Common Article 3 requires fair trial standards and prohibits torture, cruelty and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment”.
August 1, 2002 (Justice Department Greenlights Torture)
A memorandum from the Justice Department advises that "the President can authorize torture, that interrogators may cause severe pain before crossing the threshold to torture, and that there is a wide range of acts that might amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment which would not amount to torture and therefore not be prosecutable under US law prohibiting torture by US agents outside the USA."
December 2, 2002 (Rumsfeld Approves Torture)
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld approves interrogation techniques for discretionary use at Guantánamo that include hooding, stripping, sensory deprivation, isolation, stress positions and the use of dogs to “induce stress”.
April 2003 (Rumsfeld Introduces Torture Lite)
Rumsfeld authorizes interrogation techniques including isolation, “environmental manipulation” (such as adjusting temperature) and “sleep adjustment”. Additional techniques may be requested on a case-by-case basis.
June 28, 2004 (Supreme Court gives detainees the ability to challenge detention)
The US Supreme Court (Rasul v Bush) rules that US courts can consider challenges to the legality of the detention of the Guantánamo detainees.
July 7, 2004 (Pentagon Says Presumed Guilty Until Proven Otherwise)
The Pentagon announces the formation of the Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) – panels of three military officers who will review whether Guantánamo detainees are “properly detained” as “enemy combatants”. The CSRTs are allowed to rely on classified or coerced evidence against detainees denied legal representation and presumed to be "enemy combatants", unless they prove otherwise.
December 30, 2005 (Bush Prohibits Torture As He Defines It*)
President Bush signs into law the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA) of 2005, which bans the use of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (as defined in US rather than international law) but severely curtails the right of Guantánamo detainees to judicial review of the lawfulness or conditions of their detention.
*The administration refuses to discuss specific interrogation techniques.

June 29, 2006 (Supreme Court Rules Rumsfeld and Bush Violated US And International Laws)

The US Supreme Court, in Hamdan v Rumsfeld, rules that the military commissions as constituted under the 2001 Military Order violate US and international law. The Court also rules that common Article 3 does apply, reversing the 2002 presidential determination.
October 17, 2006 (Congress Ends Habeas Corpus For Foreigners)
President Bush signs into law the Military Commissions Act (MCA), which purports to strip the US courts of jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus appeals from any foreign national held as an “enemy combatant” in US custody anywhere in the world.
June, 2007 (LtC. Stephen Abraham Blows The Whistle On The Gitmo Kangaroo Court)
LtC. Abraham submits affidavit and testifies about the tribunals before Congress.
June 29, 2007 (Abraham's Affidavit Wakes Up The Supreme Court)
The US Supreme Court agrees to take the Boumediene v Bush case about federal courts having the jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus pleadings by Gitmo detainees.
July 20, 2007 (Bush Authorizes Secret Prisons)
President Bush issues an executive order authorizing and endorsing secret detention.
Guantánamo in numbers
-About 775 detainees have been held in Guantánamo since 11 January 2002.

-About 430 detainees of over 35 nationalities were still held in Guantánamo in late 2006.

-Detainees have been taken into custody in at least 10 countries before being transferred to Guantánamo, without any judicial process. These countries include Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Gambia, Indonesia, Mauritania, Pakistan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Zambia.

-Up to 17 of those held at Guantánamo were under 18 years old when taken into custody; four of them were still held at the camp at the end of 2006.

-About 345 have been transferred out of Guantánamo to countries including Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom and Yemen.

-No Guantánamo detainee has been convicted of a criminal offence by the USA.

-10 detainees were charged for trial by military commissions, which were then ruled unlawful by the US Supreme Court.

-558 detainees had their status reviewed by Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) between August 2004 and March 2005; 520 of them were found to be "enemy combatants" by these panels of three military officers. Detainees had no access to lawyers or to secret evidence used by the CSRT, which could also rely on coerced evidence.

-More than 40 suicide attempts in Guantánamo have been reported; 3 men died at Guantánamo in June 2006 after apparent suicides.

-An analysis of around 500 of the detainees concluded that only 5 per cent had been captured by US forces; 86 per cent had been arrested by Pakistani forces or Afghanistan based Northern Alliance forces and turned over to US custody, often for a reward of thousands of dollars.

-Up to 200 detainees have staged hunger strikes to protest against their circumstances and conditions of detention.

-14 detainees were transferred to Guantánamo in September 2006 after they had been held incommunicado in secret CIA custody for up to 4½ years.

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Meet Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi, Guantanamo Detainee

Mr. al-Ghizzawi has one thing going for him - a lawyer named H. Candace Gorman who has taken his case pro bono and has tirelessly worked to publicize his case.  His treatment and her experiences in representing him provide a snapshot of shame.

Here is Gorman's description of how a shopkeeper came to be housed with "high value" al Qaeda operatives at Gitmo.

Mr. Al-Ghizzawi was a civilian in Afghanistan. He was a shopkeeper that sold honey and bread. He has a wife and a young daughter. His daughter was almost six months old the last time he saw her; that was five years ago. Mr. Al-Ghizzawi was originally from Libya, but he had lived in Afghanistan since shortly after the Russians left. His wife is Afghani.

When the American bombs started to fall on Mr. Al-Ghizzawi's city he did what most people would do, he fled. He took his wife and infant daughter to his wife's parent's home in the country, to escape the bombs. Unfortunately, Mr. Al-Ghizzawi was not well known in the area where his in-laws lived and, being Arab, he was apprehended by bounty hunters. The bounty hunters turned Mr. Al-Ghizzawi over to the Northern Alliance, who in turn turned him over to the United States and he was sent to Guantánamo. That was almost five years ago. Mr. Al-Ghizzawi has never been charged with anything while at Guantánamo and has never been told what he is accused of doing. He has never been given the opportunity to prove his innocence.

During his first CSRT hearing, the tribunal ruled that Al-Ghizzawi was not an enemy combatant.  As described by LtC. Stephen Abraham, member of that tribunal and subsequent whistle-blower:
What were purported to be specific statements of fact lacked even the most fundamental earmarks of objectively credible evidence. Statements allegedly made by percipient witnesses lacked detail. Reports presented generalized statements in indirect and passive forms without stating the source of the information or providing a basis for establishing the reliability or the credibility of the source. Statements of interrogators presented to the panel offered inferences from which we were expected to draw conclusions favoring a finding of “enemy combatant” but that, upon even limited questioning from the panel, yielded the response from the Recorder, “We’ll have to get back to you.”  On the basis of the paucity and weakness of the information provided both during and after the CSRT hearing, we determined that there was no factual basis for concluding that the individual should be classified as an enemy combatant.
In true kangaroo court fashion, Al-Ghizzawi was brought before a second CSRT panel and classified as an enemy combatant without a shred of new evidence. The basis for the classification?  He was a member of a Libyan terrorist group:
The military claimed that Al-Ghizzawi was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG)—a boilerplate accusation leveled at all Libyan detainees. Al-Ghizzawi denied it, but even if it were true, there were no ties between the LIFG and the Taliban or al-Qaeda. LIFG was not on the State Department’ s watch list of possible terrorist organizations until years after Al-Ghizzawi was imprisoned at Guantánamo.
Thanks to the government failing to retain (read: destroyed) evidence used in the 2004 tribunals, Mr. Al-Ghizzawi may have a third crack at the kangaroo court. Gorman is pessimistic she will be given the opportunity to serve as his advocate in a third CSRT hearing.
What’s more, I asked if I could be present at Mr. Al-Ghizzawi’s third CSRT if such an event is to take place and I queried as to whether the military has decided whether attorneys can be present at the new tribunals.

I waited more than a week for a response. Then I sent an email asking those questions again. This time I received a reply: “We are in receipt of your letter and email. We are not in a position to provide any information at this time.” I immediately responded asking if he could tell me when he might anticipate being able to provide that information to me….I don’t expect a response.

Perhaps one day I will learn that the military conducted a third tribunal for al-Ghizzawi. He will probably be too ill to attend or at least too ill to participate. The media will be there, government attorneys too… but I do not expect the government will extend me an invitation.

How has this man who has never fired a shot or even hung out with bin Laden been treated? He wrote a six page summary of his capture and treatment while in US custody. Three of the six pages were labeled as classified material, even though the only thing it contains are some unflattering descriptions of how he was treated.
They beat him if he made any sound or if he complained about how much it hurt.

Had several body cavity searches with crowds around him laughing.

They took pictures of him naked. Men and women were watching him and laughing.

They were brought out to the runway naked. … While they were standing on the runway they were made to sit like a dog on all fours—pictures were taken—they were made to pose with their heads all held a certain way with the goggles on.

While in US custody, he has been fighting Hepatitis B, tuberculosis, and possibly liver cancer. He has received minimal medical care as his health has steadily declined.  In October, Valtin wrote a detailed account of Al-Ghizzawi's declining health. Despite his health and lack of evidence against him, Al-Ghizzawi remains held in the most restrictive cell block at Gitmo.
On December 7, 2006, he was among several hundred detainees randomly selected and moved to the newest detention camp at Guantanamo, Camp 6, which was designed to hold the majority of the detainees. According to Amnesty International, and in contravention of international standards, all detainees in Camp 6 are held under conditions of “extreme isolation and sensory deprivation for a minimum of 22 hours a day in individual steel cells with no windows to the outside.”

Their cells reportedly are extremely small. The only source of light is fluorescent lighting that is on 24 hours a day and the only air is air-conditioning, both of which are controlled by the prison guards. The detainees reportedly are allowed two hours of “recreation time” a day to be spent in a metal cage measuring four feet by four feet. (That’s 1/3 the size of a ping-pong table.)

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Some good news

To commemorate the fifth anniversary of Gitmo, I profiled the case of Adel Hamad. Like Al-Ghizzawi, Hamad was another victim of bounty hunters.  As noted by the Project Hamad organization that served as his advocate, he was just released from Gitmo.

We finally have some great news to report. Adel Hamad is back in Sudan. Over two years after being cleared for transfer, Adel Hamad has finally arrived in Khartoum and was immediately released and allowed to reunite with his family. Earlier this week the U.S. government had announced the transfer of 15 Guantanamo detainees, two of them Sudanese. The Sudanese government believed that one of those detainees would be Adel Hamad but we had no confirmation that indeed he was on that plane until this morning. William Teesdale, his legal counsel from the Federal Public Defenders Office of Oregon, should be talking to him within the next hour or two.

We at Project Hamad want to thank everyone for your efforts and for keeping hope alive.

We will post again soon about the implications of Hamad’s release. His lawyers hope to press the U.S. government to still give Adel Hamad his new CSRT hearing so he can truly clear his name. And we must remember that Adel is only one of many detainees cleared for transfer long ago, but who remain in legal limbo at Guantanamo. Adel Hamad’s downstairs neighbor in Pakistan, Ameur Mammar, detainee #939, is just one of many examples. Lets keep them in our hearts while we celebrate Hamad’s release.

This story was covered by varro on Daily Kos, but did not receive much attention.

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Take Action:

1. Join the protest in Washington, DC, on January 11:

In Washington D.C., members and other activists will gather on the National Mall dressed in orange jumpsuits to urge Congress and the Bush administration to shut down Guantánamo.  Approximately 100,000 signatures from US citizens and a petition signed by over 1,100 parliamentarians from around the world will be handed in to the White House.
Main event:
When: 11 January 2008
Time: 11.00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. local time
Where: National Mall, Washington DC
2. Urge your lawmakers to sign the Amnesty International petition.

3. Write letters to local publications demanding the closure of Gitmo and justice for the detainees under US or international law.

4. Write letters to the DoD's Director of Detainee Affairs and request the release of Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi:

J. Alan Liotta, Principal Director Office of Detainee Affairs Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense 2900 Defense Pentagon Washington DC 20301-2900, USA
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A final note:

Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib are not the only halls of shame. The detention center at the Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan is also problematic.

The American detention center, established at the Bagram military base as a temporary screening site after the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, is now teeming with some 630 prisoners -- more than twice the 275 being held at Guantanamo.

The administration has spent nearly three years and more than $30 million on a plan to transfer Afghan prisoners held by the United States to a refurbished high-security detention center run by the Afghan military outside Kabul.

But almost a year after the Afghan detention center opened, American officials say it can accommodate only about half the prisoners they once planned to put there. As a result, the makeshift American site at Bagram will probably continue to operate with hundreds of detainees for the foreseeable future, the officials said.

Meanwhile, the treatment of some prisoners on the Bagram base has prompted a strong complaint to the Pentagon from the International Committee of the Red Cross, the only outside group allowed inside the detention center.

Remember that it was complaints from the ICRC about Abu Ghraib that eventually shined a light on Rumsfeld's house of pain.  Since the ICRC works with the authorities in question rather than the media, rumors and leaks are a troublesome sign the administration is not being responsive to serious concerns about Bagram, much like they did with Abu Ghraib.
Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to DWG on Wed Jan 09, 2008 at 10:34 AM PST.

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