Why Did It Take So Long To Order The Release From Guantánamo Of An Al-Qaeda Torture Victim?

24.6.09

A prisoner at GuantanamoIn over three years of researching and reporting about the prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, I learned early on to expect, as one of Guantánamo’s first commanders, Maj. Gen. Michael Dunlavey explained, that many of the men were “Mickey Mouse” prisoners, with no connection to terrorism whatsoever, and, in hundreds of cases, not even a tangential involvement in the Taliban’s inter-Muslim civil war with Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance, which preceded the 9/11 attacks, but morphed into a war against the US after “Operation Enduring Freedom” — the US-led invasion of Afghanistan — began on October 7, 2001.

I learned about how the wrong people had ended up in Guantánamo not just from Maj. Gen. Dunlavey, but also from a former interrogator at the US prisons in Kandahar and Bagram, which were used to process the prisoners for Guantánamo. Using the pseudonym Chris Mackey, he wrote a book about his experiences, The Interrogators, in which he explained that the military commanders on the ground in Afghanistan received instructions from the highest levels of government that every Arab who ended up in US custody was to be transferred to Guantánamo, even if those on the front line had concluded that they had been seized by mistake.

The dismay that this instilled in me was only heightened when I learned from my own research, for my book The Guantánamo Files — and from research conducted by the Seton Hall Law School in New Jersey, based on documents released by the Pentagon (PDF) — that 86 percent of the prisoners were not seized by US forces “on the battlefield,” as senior officials alleged, but were picked up by their Afghan and Pakistani allies and handed over — or sold — at a time when the US military was offering bounty payments of $5000 a head — equivalent to about $250,000 in the US — for “al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects”; in other words, any Muslim with a beard who could be passed off as a terrorist.

Even so, some of the stories I came across revealed such depths of incompetence that I was repeatedly surprised: by the stories of the Afghan schizophrenic who ate his own excrement; the boys who were no more than 12 or 13 years old when they were captured; the 88-year old who was seized when his house was bombed; and another old man who was seized because he was deaf and couldn’t hear what the US soldiers who came to his house in the middle of the night were saying to him.

These stories only scratch the surface of the multitude of prisoners seized for no good reason, but although these particular prisoners were released in the first few years of Guantánamo’s existence, there has been little improvement in the last two years. While assiduously chronicling the stories of the 153 prisoners released since June 2007, I have repeatedly come across similarly wronged prisoners, because of the systemic failures in the Bush administration’s “War on Terror,” including, to cite just a few examples, Sami al-Haj, the al-Jazeera cameraman, who spent his entire time in captivity fending off attempts to recruit him as a spy, and Adel Hassan Hamad, a Sudanese hospital administrator in Pakistan — hailed by almost everyone who has met him as one of the sunniest personalities on the face of the earth — who was sold to US forces by unscrupulous Pakistan soldiers who were taking revenge on him because he had complained when they had stolen supplies from his warehouse.

Habeas cases and Justice Department obstruction

Former US Vice President Dick CheneyAccording to one reading of history — the one favored by Vice President Dick Cheney, the prime architect of America’s post-9/11 flight from the law, which has been embraced by fearmongering politicians of both parties — these stories, if acknowledged at all, are mere blips in Guantánamo’s history, and the remaining prisoners are all hardcore terrorists. However, while President Obama has done far too little to counter these groundless and unprincipled claims, judges in the District Courts, empowered to review the prisoners’ cases after a Supreme Court ruling last June confirmed that they had habeas corpus rights (the right to ask a judge why they are being held), have been slowly but surely demolishing the false, self-serving rhetoric of Cheney and the hysteria of the blinkered politicians.

The judges have not been aided by the Justice Department, which has followed the lead established under the Bush administration, and has, under Attorney General Eric Holder, done all in its power to disable the habeas reviews by preventing the prisoners’ defense teams from having access to exculpatory material — or any other material essential to mounting a meaningful defense. However, despite the obstruction — which has been so severe in some cases that judges have taken the unprecedented step of dismissing the government’s lawyers — two judges have ordered Yemeni prisoners to be released, and in the most recent example, that of Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed, the judge, Gladys Kessler, “paint[ed] a disturbing picture of unreliable allegations made by other prisoners who were tortured, coerced, bribed or suffering from mental health issues, and a “mosaic” of intelligence, purporting to rise to the level of evidence, which actually relied, to an intolerable degree, on second- or third-hand hearsay, guilt by association and unsupportable suppositions.”

On Monday, Judge Richard Leon, who demolished the Bush administration’s case against five Algerians and Guantánamo’s youngest prisoner, a Chadian named Mohammed El-Gharani, before Obama took office, dealt what may well be the most savage blow yet to Dick Cheney and his supporters, for their lies and distortions about the men still held, and also to Barack Obama and Eric Holder, for pursuing habeas cases that were doomed to fail.

The story of Abdul Rahim al-Ginco

Abdul Rahim al-Ginco, in the video "confession" he made after being tortured by al-QaedaThe case in question was that of Abdul Rahim al-Ginco (also identified as Abdul Rahim Janko). Born in Syria in 1978, al-Ginco moved to the United Arab Emirates with his family, at the age of 13, but in December 1999, as Tim Reid of the London Times explained in an article five months ago, he “fell out with his strict father,” and “left home without a passport,” in the belief that, as a friend explained to him, “if he could get to Afghanistan he could travel to Europe as a refugee.”

In Afghanistan, as he has admitted all along, he spent five days at an al-Qaeda-affiliated guest house in Kabul, and 18 days in January and February 2000 at al-Farouq, a military training camp established by the Afghan warlord Abdul Rasul Sayyaf but associated with Osama bin Laden in the years before the 9/11 attacks. However, he also explained that, although he cleaned guns at the guest house, he was not there voluntarily, and did not attend the training camp on a voluntary basis either. “It wasn’t my choice,” he said during a military review board at Guantánamo. “I was hated. They believed I was a spy, so they took me to the camp by force.”

Crucially, when he tried to leave the camp, after telling the instructors that he did not want to fight, and that he especially did not want to fight against Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of the Northern Alliance (who was assassinated two days before 9/11), because “the jihad does not say anything about killing innocent civilians in Afghanistan,” he was tortured by al-Qaeda for three months “to the extent that he had little use of his right arm,” and was forced to admit that he was a spy for the United States and Israel. According to Tim Reid, he was “given electric shocks, and had the soles of his feet beaten,” and his torture “was overseen by Mohammed Atef, the military chief of al-Qaeda who was killed by a US airstrike in Kabul in November 2001.”

He was then imprisoned by the Taliban for 18 months, in what Tim Reid described as a “squalid, vermin infested” prison in Kandahar, which held around 2,000 prisoners of the Taliban, but was left behind — with four other foreign prisoners — when the Taliban abandoned the prison following the US-led invasion. It was then that the story became truly surreal. Tim Reid and several other journalists arrived in Kandahar in January 2002 to find “a bizarre scene playing out in the jail.” As Reid explained, “The entire prison had been emptied except for five men who had chosen to stay there because they had nowhere else to go. There was a man from Manchester called Jamal Udeen [aka al-Harith], two Saudis, a student from Tatarstan — and Mr. al-Ginco. They became known as the ‘Kandahar Five.’”

Reid recalled that all five men asked the Americans to help them, and that “A French colleague, on a visit to the US base at Kandahar airport the next day, told an American officer about the men,” but a few days later, after two Americans — “one in uniform and a civilian” — had turned up at the jail to take photographs of the five, “they returned with armed soldiers and took the men to the US jail in Kandahar airport.”

The logic behind this was always non-existent, but whereas the other four men were eventually released from Guantánamo — the Tatar (Airat Vakhitov) in February 2004, Jamal Udeen in March 2004, and the Saudis (Saddiq Turkistani and Abdul Hakim Bukhari) in 2006 and 2007 — al-Ginco’s story was transformed into the darkest of nightmares, when, during an investigation of Mohammed Atef’s house, US soldiers found a videotape that included footage of him.

Abdul Rahim al-Ginco’s US nightmare

As al-Ginco explained in Guantánamo, the tape contained the “confession” he had made, as the result of his torture by al-Qaeda, which had led to a sentence of 25 years in prison for spying. He added, “When the Americans came I told them about the videotape the Taliban made of me. By me telling them about the video it created confusion to the point where the Americans believed I was working with al-Qaeda.” This was putting it mildly. Although the tape did indeed contain al-Ginco’s confession, and, apparently, footage of his torture, Attorney General John Ashcroft “believed otherwise,” as Tim Reid put it, adding, “On January 17, 2002, Mr. Ashcroft held a press conference naming and showing pictures of five men sought as potential terrorists. One he called ‘Abd al-Rahim’ — Mr. al-Ginco.”

Eleven days later, Time magazine “published an article containing Mr. al-Ginco’s picture and the allegation that he was a terror suspect,” which “found its way to the US jail in Kandahar airport,” and suddenly, al-Ginco said, “the Americans’ attitude towards him changed. He was accused of being a terrorist. He was subjected to long periods of stress positions, sleep deprivation and snarling dogs. In May 2002, after two years of being called an Israeli spy by the Taliban and al-Qaeda, Mr. al-Ginco was sent to Guantánamo Bay, now accused of being al-Qaeda and a US enemy.”

Back in January, following discussions with al-Ginco’s lawyers, Tim Reid wrote, “When I met Mr. al-Ginco in January 2002, he was a quiet character but lucid and hopeful that things would get better. Today he is being treated inside Guantánamo for post-traumatic stress disorder.” This was not the only way in which he has suffered in Guantánamo. In his administrative review board in 2005, he explained that other prisoners were also convinced that he was a spy, and had threatened him, with the result that he had tried to harm himself in Guantánamo, “because of my emotional issues” — being picked on by the other prisoners — and had spent three years in the psychiatric ward, and added that he was receiving medication for epilepsy.

By the time Barack Obama took office, al-Ginco had been moved to Camp 4, where compliant prisoners — and those who are not regarded as a threat — are allowed to live communally, and to have ”access to books, magazines and a chance to exercise.” This was certainly an improvement, but it remains inexplicable that the Obama administration considered his case worth pursuing, and on Monday Judge Leon made this clear in the strongest terms possible (PDF).

The government’s position “defies common sense”

Judge Richard LeonAfter explaining that he was required to rule on “whether the Government has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that [al-Ginco] is being lawfully detained … because he was ‘part of’ the Taliban or al-Qaeda at the time he was taken into custody by US forces,” Judge Leon noted that, although the government “effectively concedes [that al-Ginco] was not only imprisoned, but tortured by al-Qaeda into making a false ‘confession’ that he was a US spy, and imprisoned thereafter by the Taliban for over eighteen months at the infamous Sarousa [Sarposa] prison in Kandahar,” officials still contend, “[n]otwithstanding these extraordinary intervening events,” that he was “still ‘part of’ the Taliban and/or al-Qaeda when he was taken into US custody.”

Judge Leon then ran though al-Ginco’s claims — of his short and unwilling attendance at the training camp, and his subsequent torture (which he described as arguably “barbaric”) and imprisonment at the hands of al-Qaeda and the Taliban — and noted that he “contends, in essence, that even if he had a prior arrangement with al-Qaeda or the Taliban in 2000, his subsequent torture and imprisonment for eighteen months vitiates that relationship to such a degree that he no longer was ‘part of’ al-Qaeda or the Taliban when he was taken in custody in 2002.”

Ruling for al-Ginco, Judge Leon then mocked the government for “taking a position that defies common sense,” by asking the court to address whether a relationship with al-Qaeda or the Taliban “can be sufficiently vitiated by the passage of time, intervening events, or both.” Concluding that “The answer, of course, is yes,” he then dismantled the government’s case point by point, stating, “To say the least, five days at a guest house in Kabul combined with eighteen days at a training camp does not add up to a longstanding bond of brotherhood,” adding that al-Ginco’s torture “evinces a total evisceration of whatever relationship might have existed!” and that his abandonment in the Taliban prison “is even more definitive proof that any preexisting relationship had been utterly destroyed,” and concluding that an analysis of all these factors “overwhelmingly leads this Court to conclude that the relationship that existed in 2000 — such as it was — no longer existed whatsoever in 2002 when Janko was taken into custody.”

The ruling could not have been harsher, but while Lyle Denniston on SCOTUSblog noted that it may have an impact on other cases, explaining that “Colleagues on the District Court pay attention to each other’s rulings, and Leon’s interpretation of the effects of torture during captivity, other forms of mistreatment, and lengthy confinement in harsh conditions could be read more broadly to establish breaks with past terrorism,” I have to say that, from my point of view, I hope that what it demonstrates to the Obama administration — and specifically, to Eric Holder’s Justice Department — is that, with more habeas cases forthcoming, more time and effort would be better spent on working out which cases to drop, and on doing further damage to Dick Cheney’s credibility, than on pressing ahead with cases that, when viewed objectively, are also bound to fail.

There may be no more cases that are quite as bleakly ridiculous as that of Abdul Rahim al-Ginco, but there are many, many others in which the Justice Department’s long efforts to construct a viable case have come to nothing, because there was never any evidence in the first place, and it would be better for all involved if the administration worked this out now, rather than face further humiliation as it presses ahead with what, in most cases, is nothing more than a doomed and pointless attempt to defend the bitter fruits of the Bush administration’s colossally incompetent “War on Terror” detention policy.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed, and also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009.

As published on the Huffington Post, CounterPunch, Antiwar.com and ZNet. Also cross-posted on Common Dreams.

For a sequence of articles dealing with the Guantánamo habeas cases, see: Guantánamo and the Supreme Court: the most important habeas corpus case in modern history and Guantánamo and the Supreme Court: What Happened? (both December 2007), The Supreme Court’s Guantánamo ruling: what does it mean? (June 2008), Guantánamo as Alice in Wonderland (Uighurs’ first court victory, June 2008), What’s Happening with the Guantánamo cases? (July 2008), Government Says Six Years Is Not Long Enough To Prepare Evidence (September 2008), From Guantánamo to the United States: The Story of the Wrongly Imprisoned Uighurs (October 2008), Guantánamo Uyghurs’ resettlement prospects skewered by Justice Department lies (October 2008), Guilt By Torture: Binyam Mohamed’s Transatlantic Quest for Justice (November 2008), After 7 Years, Judge Orders Release of Guantánamo Kidnap Victims (November 2008), Is Robert Gates Guilty of Perjury in Guantánamo Torture Case? (December 2008), A New Year Message to Barack Obama: Free the Guantánamo Uighurs (January 2009), The Top Ten Judges of 2008 (January 2009), No End in Sight for the “Enemy Combatants” of Guantánamo (January 2009), Judge Orders Release of Guantánamo’s Forgotten Child (January 2009), How Cooking For The Taliban Gets You Life In Guantánamo (January 2009), Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics (February 2009), Bad News And Good News For The Guantánamo Uighurs (February 2009), The Nobodies Formerly Known As Enemy Combatants (March 2009), Farce at Guantánamo, as cleared prisoner’s habeas petition is denied (April 2009), Obama’s First 100 Days: A Start On Guantánamo, But Not Enough (May 2009), Judge Condemns “Mosaic” Of Guantánamo Intelligence, And Unreliable Witnesses (May 2009). Also see: Justice extends to Bagram, Guantánamo’s Dark Mirror (April 2009).

39 Responses

  1. the talking dog says...

    This is what happens when you start a “process” with the outcome already set: we have picked up terrorists, therefore, everyone we pick up is a terrorist, and any evidence to the contrary will always be “unreliable.”

    At this point, why even believe our own courts? In this case, al-Ginco “trained in an al-Qaeda camp; ergo he is a dangerous terrorist.”

    Policy by tautology is now something a painfully large sector of the American public and their officials are willing to believe.

    It beats thinking.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi TD,
    Well I guess we have to believe the courts because the judges are the only ones attempting to remind the administration that the US is a nation founded on the rule of law, although when we get judges ruling that Taliban foot soldiers — or cooks — can be “enemy combatants” — or whatever they are, or aren’t called now — then it’s clear that, after nearly eight years, we still haven’t adequately defined the enemy. They should be terrorists, involved in real plots or attacks. Full stop.

    As for being a terrorist because the government says you are, rather then through anything that resembles any kind of process whatsoever, I’m still surprised at how many people don’t know that there were no Article 5 competent tribunals in Afghanistan (unlike every war since Vietnam), and how, in a script that really must have been taken directly from the Nazis, Cheney and Addington knew that if you hyped up the threat enough, you could get away with holding people without charge or trial, based on no evidence whatsoever, and possibly forever, and that no one would mind because they would take your descriptions of the threat — the “worst of the worst” etc. — at face value.

    What was it that Hermann Goering said?

    “Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.”

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Oh, and that Goering quote? I got it from the testimony of “Detainee Z,” who is held in the UK under house arrest, his liberty curtailed without charge or trial:
    http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2009/04/02/five-stories-from-britains-guantanamo-5-detainee-z/

  4. Why Did It Take So Long To Order The Release From Guantánamo Of An Al-Qaeda Torture Victim? by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] by Andy Worthington Featured Writer Dandelion Salad http://www.andyworthington.co.uk 24 June 2009 [...]

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    After this article was published on CounterPunch, I received the following message from Gui Rochat:

    The truly appalling state of the detention camps is the brutal ignorance of the army and secret services who either by force or by bribery try to control the provinces. The less fortunate are often the less educated and harmfully less intelligent, but then is that not the fate of all dejected under control of an expanding empire ?

    It is often thought that this brutal ignorance is less harmful than an intelligent oppression like the Nazi occupations and that the smart ones can escape through its obvious interstices, but the suffering remains the same.

  6. Salpha says...

    Hello Mr. Worthington,
    You say: “I have to say that, from my point of view, I hope that what it demonstrates to the Obama administration — and specifically, to Eric Holder’s Justice Department — is that, with more habeas cases forthcoming, more time and effort would be better spent on working out which cases to drop, and on doing further damage to Dick Cheney’s credibility, than on pressing ahead with cases that, when viewed objectively, are also bound to fail.”

    I sure hope you are right because as it is now I have lost all confidence in President Obama to do the right thing. I guess when a president swears to uphold the constitution, it means nothing.

    It his heart wrenching to read what happened and still happening to those innocent detainees. Even if they are not innocent, torture is so wrong. It puts a country on the same level as the alleged terrorists they are pursuing. Mr. Obama is going to lose his credibility and respect with these policies in the eyes of the world he is trying to win back.

    Excellent piece of journalism, amazing! How do you deal with the emotional part, does it take a toll on you? I am just curious and you do not have to answer, maybe this is too personal.

    It reminds me when I was a court artist in criminal cases, after seven years I just could not take it anymore. It got so bad I could not draw people anymore without feeling sick.

    Thank you

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Salpha,
    Thanks for the comments.

    To answer your question about how I deal with the emotional side, I think I’ve always tried to channel it into the actual work, but I don’t really know what coping mechanism I have.

    Interesting that you were a court artist. I’ve been in touch with Janet Hamlin, who was the court artist for the Military Commissions at Guantanamo, but her work, I suppose, involved historic events that didn’t take place on a regular basis, as opposed to having to draw the accused as a regular job, which, I infer, might involve having to look rather too closely at the oppressed — and at genuinely dangerous, troubled people — every day.

  8. The Boiling Frog says...

    This may have been explained before, and I may be taking the easy way out because it may be something I can research online, but I’m wondering…in this and other articles, I’ve noticed that many prisoners are known by at least two (2) names – is this the result of mistakes made by captors or is there another explanation why so many appear to be known by more than one name?

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Mr. Frog,
    Mostly it’s a transliteration problem, as names were entered onto whatever prisoner databases existed by US personnel whose Arabic was either poor or non-existent. In some cases, prisoners lied on capture — and I think fear can lead anyone seized by the authorities to do that quite easily — but then, obviously, lived to regret it, as the Pentagon was always quite triumphant when it discovered that a prisoner had been using a false name. To the best of my knowledge, however, this rarely, if ever, led to the discovery that the real name was that of a long-wanted terrorist!

  10. The Boiling Frog says...

    Just a quick note to say “thank you” for taking the time to respond to my inquiry. Very enlightening.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    This article received some good comments when cross-posted on Common Dreams.

    Here’s one:

    If Al-Ginco, as a result of this Kafkaesque sequence of events, is embittered against the United States government to the point that he now, if released, might indeed be inclined to engage in acts of terrorism or military reprisal against his former captor/interrogators, does that mean Al-Ginco is to be detained in custody indefinitely?

    This would be the end result of the Willie Horton redux, not-in-my-backyard propaganda push that recently caused 94 members of the United States Senate to deny the Obama administration’s funding request to close Gitmo and relocate its current inmates to US soil. It is also a possible end result of Barack Obama’s vague references to never releasing anyone who would engage in hostile acts against the United States, no matter what the origin of that hostility might be.

    Shameful, shameful, shameful.

    Bill from Saginaw

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    And here’s another, from jareilly:

    The unfortunate Mr. Al-Ginco is just one of those “little people”, those faceless, nameless millions whose duty it is to lead wretched, hopeless lives, wither slowly in our prisons and die under our cluster bombs. This way we can use them to convince ourselves of this, that or the other delusional argument. We’re helping them! Everybody wants US-style democracy! Freedom is on the march! And we’ll kill, imprison, torture, dispossess every one those the little brown-skinned b*stards if that’s what it takes to make them free…

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    And a couple of good comments from the Huffington Post too.

    Here’s the first, from realpolitic:

    Seems like this story should be covered on the nightly news and given wide exposure. This poor man has suffered. He is advertised as a terror suspect in Time magazine and based on almost that alone the army puts him in Guantanamo. The story is Kafkaesque in its indifference to humanity.

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    And this from arcticredriver:

    Congratulations on another excellent article.

    I read commentators who are now willing to acknowledge that Guantanamo once held a large number of completely innocent bystanders, but who now believe the remaining 229 captives are all individuals the USA could have legitimately held — if it had complied with the Geneva Conventions.

    Al Janko, and El Gharani are obvious counter-examples, as are the Uyghurs, and probably most of the Yemenis.

    I am disappointed that the Obama administration did not choose to conduct open and transparent reviews of the captives’ status. This would have let the Bush administration wear the blame for holding men on flimsy or non-existent evidence.

    I noticed that the Presiding Officer of the annual reviews routinely told captives who had credibly disposed of all the allegations against them, that they would recommend they continue to be held in Guantanamo, even if they were convinced they had initially been apprehended in error, unless the captive convinced them that their years of brutal detention [had not radicalized them].

    It may be distressing to Americans, but I think it is a long term mistake to hold men who were apprehended in error — even if they were believed to have been radicalized following their brutal treatment in US custody.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    This from Salpha, in response to 7, above:

    Hi again Mr. Worthington,

    You said: “Interesting that you were a court artist. I’ve been in touch with Janet Hamlin, who was the court artist for the Military Commissions at Guantanamo, but her work, I suppose, involved historic events that didn’t take place on a regular basis, as opposed to having to draw the accused as a regular job, which, I infer, might involve having to look rather too closely at the oppressed — and at genuinely dangerous, troubled people — every day.”

    You nailed it. The court artist is a popular figure in the court of justice. Everybody talks to you. The public, the accused, the police, the lawyers, even the jury. Not all accused are in prison pending their case like when it is a first offence. Sometimes someone accused of rape would talk to me without me knowing it. But what disturbed me the most was when a person got a guilty sentence but I thought he was innocent. The case was built only on circumstantial evidence. Most of the time it was because they had a bad lawyer. The crown lawyer, even though they would have real doubts about some of the accused about being guilty, they would pursue it anyway. I learned a lot about law and people. It was the perfect place to learn about how the body moves and draw at the same time.

    I was there every day for seven years. I guess to hear all those sordid stories became a problem. First two years I worked for the media. By then, I got a lot of requests from lawyers, judges, even the accused to draw them. They paid better and I could make a real living out of it. I got also all kinds of funny requests, mostly from lawyers.

    Before being an artist, I was a field geologist mostly up north in the province of Quebec. In the real bush.

    Thanks for taking the time to answer; that too is exceptional.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    This was my reply:

    I think it’s important to engage with readers, as it’s one of the communication possibilities created by the Internet — plus, I generally get more interesting comments than I do at the Guardian (where there are too many racist provocateurs), and, to a lesser degree, the Huffington Post.

    Your insights into the court process are very interesting. May I post them?

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    And Salpha’s reply, in which she also said that I could post her comments:

    I agree with you on the Huffington Post and The Guardian comment section. I find that some comments go too far with baseless accusations or are so misinformed it gets too depressing. I rarely read them.

    I find it fantastic that you engage with your readers; not too many bloggers do. I do support you on your audacious journey.

  18. bill green says...

    I would like to comment but with all the illegal wire tapping and filtering through all web information by invisable security groups I am reluctant to have myself labeled as a threat to national security just because of my opinion. It would seem that anyone that speaks out against the US administration is now labeled as also a terrorist and an enemy. I am neither.
    bill

  19. Former Insider Shatters Credibility of Military Commissions by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] to defend the colossal errors made by the Bush administration (as I also explained here and here), Lt. Col. Vandeveld’s experience of Jawad’s case enabled him to confirm to the Committee not [...]

  20. Will Eric Holder Be The Anti-Torture Hero? by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] — as highlighted in the case of Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed, a Yemeni prisoner, and, in particular, Abdul Rahim al-Ginco, a Syrian whose case was pursued even though he had been tortured by al-Qaeda as a [...]

  21. Truthsayer says...

    I hear black helicopters and see men in black. Get your tin foil hats on guys hurry. You guys are truly scary.

  22. Obama And The Deadline For Closing Guantánamo: It’s Worse Than You Think by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] percent of the cases on which they have delivered a verdict, ruled that the government either had no case at all, or that its cases were based upon statements by unreliable witnesses, who were tortured, coerced [...]

  23. Obama And The Deadline For Closing Guantánamo: It’s Worse Than You Think « Dr Nasir Khan says...

    [...] percent of the cases on which they have delivered a verdict, ruled that the government either had no case at all, or that its cases were based upon statements by unreliable witnesses, who were tortured, coerced [...]

  24. As Judge Orders Release Of Tortured Guantánamo Prisoner, Government Refuses To Concede Defeat by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] in humiliation after humiliation, first in the case of Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed, then in the case of Abdul Rahim al-Ginco, a young Syrian who was tortured by al-Qaeda, and now in the case of Mohamed [...]

  25. Guantánamo As Hotel California: You Can Check Out Any Time You Like, But You Can Never Leave by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] Although 15 other prisoners cleared by the courts — 13 Uighurs, Sabir Lahmar, an Algerian, and Abdul Rahim al-Ginco, a Syrian — are awaiting new homes, because of fears that they will face torture — or worse — [...]

  26. Guantánamo And The Courts (Part Three): Obama’s Continuing Shame by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] story did not surface until July, but in the meantime, the other case mentioned above, that of Abdul Rahim al-Ginco, a troubled young Syrian who had traveled to Afghanistan after falling out with his father, [...]

  27. 75 Guantánamo Prisoners Cleared For Release; 31 Could Leave Today by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] but that have been accompanied by withering criticism from the judges involved (see the cases of Abdul Rahim al-Ginco and Fouad al-Rabiah for the most severe [...]

  28. Innocent Guantánamo Torture Victim Fouad al-Rabiah Is Released In Kuwait « freedetainees.org says...

    [...] by unreliable witnesses have been exposed by the judges, as well as other examples of cases that “defie[d] common sense” or exposed the use of torture, but until al-Rabiah’s case was examined, the existence of a [...]

  29. What Does It Take to Get Out of Obama’s Guantanamo? « Norcaltruth says...

    [...] by al-Qaeda (and whose case the Justice Department had pursued in the habeas courts until it was thoroughly humiliated by Judge Richard Leon in June), the government’s lawyers attempted to claim that, because [...]

  30. AWorthington: Guantanamo Habeas Results, Prisoners 34 – Government 13 « On Now says...

    [...] al-Ginco (aka Abdul Rahim Janko) (Syria, ISN 489) Released. For my analysis of the ruling, see: Why Did It Take So Long To Order The Release From Guantánamo Of An Al-Qaeda Torture Victim? Also see: Andy Worthington Discusses Guantánamo on Democracy Now! For Judge Richard Leon’s [...]

  31. Nightmares From my Father « The Vigilant Lens says...

    [...] Obama girls will some day learn the truth about the truth.  They’ll have a story to tell and my only hope is…that they can tell it from the [...]

  32. Drasties - Dutch on the World - World on the Dutch says...

    [...] always-thorough Andy Worthington last June wrote an excellent narrative on the heinous plight of Janko, which is well worth reading (h/t harpie).  That the Obama DOJ’s tactics virtually ensure he will receive no [...]

  33. Should we now drop “America the Beautiful”? « Later On says...

    [...] always-thorough Andy Worthington last June wrote an excellent narrative on the heinous plight of Janko, which is well worth reading (h/t harpie).  That the Obama DOJ’s tactics virtually ensure he will receive no [...]

  34. Obama era justice says...

    [...] always-thorough Andy Worthington last June wrote an excellent narrative on the heinous plight of Janko, which is well worth reading (h/t harpie).  That the Obama DOJ’s tactics virtually ensure he will receive no [...]

  35. Habeas Hell: How The Great Writ Was Gutted At Guantánamo « Eurasia Review says...

    [...] humiliations — in, for example, the cases of Mohammed El-Gharani, Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed, Abdul Rahim al-Ginco, Mohamed Jawad and Fouad [...]

  36. Andy Worthington Discusses Guantánamo and WikiLeaks with Rob Kall of Op-Ed News « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] led to the filling of Guantánamo with “Mickey Mouse prisoners,” as an early commander, Maj. Gen. Michael Dunlavey explained, and resulted in a prison that has never held more than a few dozen genuine terrorist suspects, [...]

  37. WikiLeaks Reveals Secret Guantánamo Files, Exposes Detention Policy as a Construct of Lies « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] al-Rahim Janko (ISN 489), a Syrian Kurd, tortured by al-Qaeda as a spy and then imprisoned by the Taliban along with Abd al-Hakim Bukhari, above, is also used as a [...]

  38. Anonymous says...

    [...] al-Rahim Janko (ISN 489), un kurdo sirio, torturado por Al Qaeda como un espía y encarcelado por los talibanes junto con Abd al-Hakim Bukhari, anteriormente, se utiliza [...]

  39. Secret Files on All Guantánamo Prisoners | Epiky says...

    [...] al-Rahim Janko (ISN 489), a Syrian Kurd, tortured by al-Qaeda as a spy and then imprisoned by the Taliban along with Abd al-Hakim Bukhari, above, is also used as a [...]

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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