Archive for November, 2009

Military Commissions Revived: Don’t Do It, Mr. President!

President Obama shakes hands with Adm. Michael Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after signing the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010, on Oct. 28, 2009 (also present: defense secretary Robert Gates and Sen. Carl Levin) (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)I was so delighted that the Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by President Obama last Wednesday, included a hard-won concession that the administration can transfer prisoners from Guantánamo to the mainland to face trials (even though the legislation still bears the fingerprints of interfering lawmakers, and still, scandalously, prevents any innocent man from being rehoused in the country that falsely imprisoned him) that I overlooked two other distressing facts.

Firstly, the Act authorizes 680 billion dollars to be spent — a mind-boggling amount of money — and secondly, it includes amendments to the Military Commissions Act of 2006, authorizing the revival of the much-maligned “terror trials” that were first dragged from obscurity by Dick Cheney and his close advisors in November 2001.

I have spent much of the last two and a half years railing against the folly and injustice of the Commissions, and, like human rights groups and lawyers, am not remotely assured that the Commissions’ latest incarnation is either prudent or necessary.

Statements derived from torture — key to the initial proposals back in 2001 — are, apparently, long gone, supposedly removed from any dealings with “War on Terror” prisoners in the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005. When the Commissions were ruled illegal by the Supreme Court in June 2006 and revived by Congress in the Military Commissions Act just a few months later, all forms of coercion were supposed to have been outlawed, but in reality, the military judges were allowed to use their discretion to decide where a line should be drawn.

In this latest incarnation of the “terror trials”, statements are required to be “voluntary”, bringing the system much more in line with federal court rules, although in reality a loophole still remains. Involuntary statements — in other words, those derived through some form of coercion — will be allowed if “the statement was made incident to lawful conduct during military operations at the point of capture or during closely related active combat engagement, and the interests of justice would best be served by admission of the statement into evidence.”

The new legislation also tightens the rules on the admissibility of hearsay evidence — or, as it should really be called, information obtained through hearsay. Both the prosecution and the defense must now be allowed time to investigate the information, and the military judges are empowered, like the federal court judges ruling on the Guantánamo prisoners’ habeas corpus petitions, to “take into account all of the circumstances surrounding the taking of the statement, including the degree to which the statement is corroborated, the indicia of reliability within the statement itself, and whether the will of the declarant was overborne.” They are also empowered to decide whether such statements are relevant and probative of the facts, and to reach their own conclusions about whether “the general purposes of the rules of evidence and the interests of justice will best be served by admission of the statement into evidence.”

Protections have also been provided in capital cases, in which the defendants — now, interestingly, identified as “unprivileged enemy belligerents,” rather than the notorious “enemy combatants” of the Bush administration — are entitled to be represented by defense lawyers with experience in handling capital cases.

More troubling are three particular aspects of the new Commissions: the fact that there is no lower age limit on those who can be charged (an omission which may have been included specifically to target Omar Khadr, the Canadian who was just 15 years old when he was seized in 2002); the fact that, despite proposals made by the administration, the legislation has no “sunset clause,” which means, as Daphne Eviatar explained in the Washington Independent, that, “[al]though Obama has promised to use the commissions sparingly, the new law sets up a parallel justice system that could outlive [his] administration and leave an indelible stamp on its legacy”; and the fact that two dubious war crimes — “conspiracy” and “providing material support for terrorism” — are still included in the legislation.

This is perhaps unsurprising, as it was Congress that introduced “material support for terrorism” in the Military Commissions Act, but its inclusion in the new legislation flies in the face of warnings by senior Obama administration officials that it might not withstand legal challenges. In testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee in July, Assistant Attorney General David Kris urged lawmakers to drop “material support” from the pending legislation, noting (PDF):

While this is a very important offense in our counterterrorism prosecutions in Federal Court … there are serious questions as to whether material support for terrorism or terrorist groups is a traditional violation of the rules of war … our experts believe that there is a significant risk that appellate courts will ultimately conclude that material support for terrorism is not a traditional law of war offense, thereby reversing hard-won convictions and leading to questions about the system’s legitimacy.

Kris was more enthusiastic about retaining the other charge used most frequently in the Commissions — “conspiracy,” a legacy of Dick Cheney’s original Commissions — but this, too, is fraught with problems. In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the case in which the Supreme Court shut down the Commissions’ first incarnation, Justice John Paul Stevens, in an opinion in which he was joined by three other justices, made a point of mentioning that “conspiracy” has not traditionally been considered a war crime, and Shayana Kadidal, senior managing attorney of the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights, told Daphne Eviatar that, as a result, lawyers may well be able to argue that Congress has crafted an unconstitutional ex post facto law, in attempting to justify war crimes charges after the crime in question was committed.

The irony, therefore, is that, although Obama’s Commissions have moved closer to the standards required in federal court trials, the administration has found itself unable to take the logical next step and scrap them completely, pursuing cases in venues with a long history of successfully prosecuting terrorism cases, where well-established rules are already in place to handle “conspiracy” and “material support for terrorism.”

As Lawyers at Human Rights First have been explaining for many years — most recently in an update to their report, “In Pursuit of Justice: Prosecuting Terrorism Cases in the Federal Court” — in the last 20 years, federal courts have handled approximately 135 real-life terrorism prosecutions, and have secured convictions in over 90 percent of those cases. When the updated report was issued in July, Elisa Massimino, Human Rights First’s Chief Executive Officer, explained, “Politicians have spent eight years trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to prosecuting terrorism and that approach has failed miserably. This report makes clear that the best way forward is to rely on our existing legal system. Its track record of successfully prosecuting criminals, safeguarding national security, and addressing the complex legal issues of our time is unmatched.”

What is particularly sad about the Obama administration’s decision to cling onto the Commissions is that, elsewhere, senior officials have recognized the power of traditional courts. Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a “high-value detainee” at Guantánamo, who spent two years in secret CIA prisons, was actually indicted for his alleged involvement in the 1998 African embassy bombings before the Bush administration began its destructive “War on Terror,” and when he was moved to the US mainland to face a federal court trial in May this year, the Justice Department issued a press release explaining that it has “a long history of … successfully prosecuting terror suspects through the criminal justice system,” and, to prove it, attached a list of successful prosecutions over the last 16 years.

If Ghaliani can be successfully prosecuted in federal court, there is surely no valid reason why a two-tier judicial system is required, especially given the ongoing problems with the Commissions identified above, and I can only conclude that the administration is unwilling to take this route because officials are not satisfied with the federal courts’ 90 percent success rate in terrorist cases, and fear that, in some cases, trials might lead to acquittals.

This is actually how justice works — and how it should work — but as a result of the Bush administration’s “War on Terror,” it seems that fear has eroded reason to an unprecedented extent, and that acquittals are as unacceptable as the alleged recidivism of even a single prisoner released from Guantánamo.

With this in mind, senior officials would do well to recall that one of the reasons that Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor of the Commissions, resigned in October 2007 was the following exchange with William J. Haynes II, the Pentagon’s chief counsel, which took place in August 2005.

According to Col. Davis, Haynes “said these trials will be the Nuremberg of our time” — a reference to the 1945 trials of Nazi leaders, “considered the model of procedural rights in the prosecution of war crimes,” as an article in the Nation described them. Col. Davis replied that he had noted that there had been some acquittals at Nuremberg, which had “lent great credibility to the proceedings,” and added, “I said to him that if we come up short and there are some acquittals in our cases, it will at least validate the process. At which point, his eyes got wide and he said, ‘Wait a minute, we can’t have acquittals. If we’ve been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can’t have acquittals. We’ve got to have convictions.’”

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 I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009, details about my film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

As published exclusively on Truthout.

See the following for a sequence of articles dealing with the stumbling progress of the Military Commissions: The reviled Military Commissions collapse (June 2007), A bad week at Guantánamo (Commissions revived, September 2007), The curse of the Military Commissions strikes the prosecutors (September 2007), A good week at Guantánamo (chief prosecutor resigns, October 2007), The story of Mohamed Jawad (October 2007), The story of Omar Khadr (November 2007), Guantánamo trials: where are the terrorists? (February 2008), Six in Guantánamo charged with 9/11 attacks: why now, and what about the torture? (February 2008), Guantánamo’s shambolic trials (ex-prosecutor turns, February 2008), Torture allegations dog Guantánamo trials (March 2008), African embassy bombing suspect charged (March 2008), The US military’s shameless propaganda over 9/11 trials (April 2008), Betrayals, backsliding and boycotts (May 2008), Fact Sheet: The 16 prisoners charged (May 2008), Afghan fantasist to face trial (June 2008), 9/11 trial defendants cry torture (June 2008), USS Cole bombing suspect charged (July 2008), Folly and injustice (Salim Hamdan’s trial approved, July 2008), A critical overview of Salim Hamdan’s Guantánamo trial and the dubious verdict (August 2008), Salim Hamdan’s sentence signals the end of Guantánamo (August 2008), Controversy still plagues Guantánamo’s Military Commissions (September 2008), Another Insignificant Afghan Charged (September 2008), Seized at 15, Omar Khadr Turns 22 in Guantánamo (September 2008), Is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Running the 9/11 Trials? (September 2008), two articles exploring the Commissions’ corrupt command structure (The Dark Heart of the Guantánamo Trials, and New Evidence of Systemic Bias in Guantánamo Trials, October 2008), The collapse of Omar Khadr’s Guantánamo trial (October 2008), Corruption at Guantánamo (legal adviser faces military investigations, October 2008), An empty trial at Guantánamo (Ali Hamza al-Bahlul, October 2008), Life sentence for al-Qaeda propagandist fails to justify Guantánamo trials (al-Bahlul, November 2008), 20 Reasons To Shut Down The Guantánamo Trials (profiles of all the prisoners charged, November 2008), How Guantánamo Can Be Closed: Advice for Barack Obama (November 2008), More Dubious Charges in the Guantánamo Trials (two Kuwaitis, November 2008), The End of Guantánamo (Salim Hamdan repatriated, November 2008), Torture, Preventive Detention and the Terror Trials at Guantánamo (December 2008), Is the 9/11 trial confession an al-Qaeda coup? (December 2008), The Dying Days of the Guantánamo Trials (January 2009), Former Guantánamo Prosecutor Condemns Chaotic Trials (Lt. Col. Vandeveld on Mohamed Jawad, January 2009), Torture taints the case of Mohamed Jawad (January 2009), Bush Era Ends with Guantánamo Trial Chief’s Torture Confession (Susan Crawford on Mohammed al-Qahtani, January 2009), Chaos and Lies: Why Obama Was Right to Halt The Guantánamo Trials (January 2009), Binyam Mohamed’s Plea Bargain: Trading Torture For Freedom (March 2009).

And for a sequence of articles dealing with the Obama administration’s response to the Military Commissions, see: Don’t Forget Guantánamo (February 2009), Who’s Running Guantánamo? (February 2009), The Talking Dog interviews Darrel Vandeveld, former Guantánamo prosecutor (February 2009), Obama’s First 100 Days: A Start On Guantánamo, But Not Enough (May 2009), Obama Returns To Bush Era On Guantánamo (May 2009), New Chief Prosecutor Appointed For Military Commissions At Guantánamo (May 2009), Pain At Guantánamo And Paralysis In Government (May 2009), My Message To Obama: Great Speech, But No Military Commissions and No “Preventive Detention” (May 2009), Guantánamo And The Many Failures Of US Politicians (May 2009), A Child At Guantánamo: The Unending Torment of Mohamed Jawad (June 2009), A Broken Circus: Guantánamo Trials Convene For One Day Of Chaos (June 2009), Obama Proposes Swift Execution of Alleged 9/11 Conspirators (June 2009), Predictable Chaos As Guantánamo Trials Resume (July 2009), David Frakt: Military Commissions “A Catastrophic Failure” (August 2009),
9/11 Trial At Guantánamo Delayed Again: Can We Have Federal Court Trials Now, Please? (September 2009), Torture And Futility: Is This The End Of The Military Commissions At Guantánamo? (September 2009), Resisting Injustice In Guantánamo: The Story Of Fayiz Al-Kandari (October 2009).

Guantánamo Uighurs In Palau: First Interview And Photo

In the first interview with one of the six Uighurs recently released from Guantánamo to the Pacific nation of Palau, Radio Free Asia in Washington D.C. spoke by phone to Anwar Hassan, who revealed that, although the men were enjoying their new-found freedom, they were all concerned that they were unable to contact their families. As RFA described it, “Hassan said that strict Chinese government controls on Internet and phone communication with the Uighurs’ homeland following ethnic violence in July have prevented them from doing so.”

“We haven’t been able to talk to our family members yet,” Anwar Hassan said in the telephone interview. “We have stayed eight years in the jail … Our biggest desire on getting out of the jail was to talk to our family members and let them know we are alive and give them some peace of mind,” he said.

He added, “Even though we are free now, in one sense our situation isn’t too different from when we were in jail, as the Chinese government has blocked all communication channels to our homeland. I think this is because the Chinese government does not want the outside world to know what happened in our homeland so they can strike harder against our people. Now, this has become our main concern.”

Three of the recently released Uighurs in the kitchen of their new home in Palau, November 2, 2009 (Photo: Bernadette Carreon, AFP, Getty Images)

Three of the recently released Uighurs in the kitchen of their new home in Palau, November 2, 2009 (Photo: Bernadette Carreon, AFP, Getty Images).

RFA explained that Hassan, and the other men who flew to Palau with him — Ahmad Tourson, Abdul Ghappar Abdul Rahman, Edham Mamet, Adel Noori and Dawut Abdurehim — received a warm welcome from the country’s president, Johnson Toribiong. “The president of Palau greeted us and met with us when we got here,” Hassan said. “He is a very easy-going and pleasant man. Everybody here is very good to us.”

However, he also explained that he and his companions “had very mixed feelings on the occasion of their release,” as RFA described it. “We spent eight years of our lives over there for nothing. There was no reason given for that kind of treatment, and even thinking about the experience causes great pain,” he said. “On the other hand,” he added, “when the Chinese government demanded that the US hand us over to them, the American government refused to give us to them, so when we think about that, we are very happy to be here.”

Hassan also explained that Palau “won’t be the final destination for the men, who have been caught up by political forces far beyond their control,” as RFA put it. “We are living here temporarily,” he said. “So our main concern is: where is our next stop? When will it happen? How soon? All of these questions are bothering us right now.”

For Agence France-Presse, Bernadette Carreon visited the men in Koror, the capital of Palau, and reported that they “spent their first day of freedom on Monday shopping.” As they walked around the shops being greeted by the local people, they were accompanied by their translator, Mampimin Ala, who was flown in from Australia to help them adjust. AFP also explained that they had “penciled in a day’s swimming at the spectacular Rock Islands … after revealing that was one of life’s treats they missed most while detained at the US naval base in Cuba.”

George Clarke, one of the lawyers for the men, who traveled to Palau with them, told AFP, “They have not touched the water for eight years,” adding, “They are happy that the Palawan people have accepted them and relieved that they have finally been released from jail,” Gitanjali Gutierrez, another of their US lawyers, said it was “important for them to meet as many locals as possible in the next few days as [they] rebuild their lives in freedom.”

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 I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009, details about my film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

For a sequence of articles dealing with the Uighurs in Guantánamo, see: The Guantánamo whistleblower, a Libyan shopkeeper, some Chinese Muslims and a desperate government (July 2007), Guantánamo’s Uyghurs: Stranded in Albania (October 2007), Former Guantánamo detainee seeks asylum in Sweden (November 2007), A transcript of Sabin Willett’s speech in Stockholm (November 2007), Support for ex-Guantánamo detainee’s Swedish asylum claim (January 2008), A Chinese Muslim’s desperate plea from Guantánamo (March 2008), Former Guantánamo prisoner denied asylum in Sweden (June 2008), Six Years Late, Court Throws Out Guantánamo Case (June 2008), Guantánamo as Alice in Wonderland (July 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), A Pastor’s Plea for the Guantánamo Uyghurs (October 2008), Guantánamo: Justice Delayed or Justice Denied? (October 2008), Sabin Willett’s letter to the Justice Department (November 2008), Will Europe Take The Cleared Guantánamo Prisoners? (December 2008), A New Year Message to Barack Obama: Free the Guantánamo Uighurs (January 2009), Guantanamo’s refugees (February 2009), Bad News And Good News For The Guantánamo Uighurs (February 2009), A Letter To Barack Obama From A Guantánamo Uighur (March 2009), Obama’s First 100 Days: A Start On Guantánamo, But Not Enough (May 2009), Pain At Guantánamo And Paralysis In Government (May 2009), Guantánamo: A Prison Built On Lies (May 2009), Guantánamo: A Real Uyghur Slams Newt Gingrich’s Racist Stupidity (May 2009), Free The Guantánamo Uighurs! (May 2009), Who Are The Four Guantánamo Uighurs Sent To Bermuda? (June 2009), Guantánamo’s Uighurs In Bermuda: Interviews And New Photos (June 2009), Andy Worthington Discusses Guantánamo on Democracy Now! (June 2009), Guantánamo And The Courts (Part One): Exposing The Bush Administration’s Lies (July 2009), Is The World Ignoring A Massacre of Uighurs In China? (July 2009), Chair Of The American Conservative Union Supports The Guantánamo Uighurs (July 2009), Three Uighurs Talk About Chinese Interrogation At Guantánamo (July 2009), House Threatens Obama Over Chinese Interrogation Of Uighurs In Guantánamo (July 2009), A Profile of Rushan Abbas, The Guantánamo Uighurs’ Interpreter (August 2009), and the stories in the additional chapters of The Guantánamo Files: Website Extras 1, Website Extras 6 and Website Extras 9.

Who Are The Six Uighurs Released From Guantánamo To Palau?

Four of the recently released Uighurs from Guantanamo in the kitchen of their new home in Koror, Palau, November 2, 2009 (Photo: AFP)At the weekend, six of the remaining 13 Uighurs in Guantánamo — Muslims from China’s Xinjiang province — were released to resume new lives in the tiny Pacific nation of Palau (population: 20,000). I have written at length about the plight of Guantánamo’s Uighurs, innocent men caught up in the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, who were mostly seized and sold to US forces by Pakistani villagers after fleeing a settlement in Afghanistan’s Tora Bora mountains where they had been living a Spartan live for several months, free from Chinese oppression. Some were hoping to make their way to Turkey, to find work, but had found their way hard, and had been advised to seek out the settlement; others nursed futile dreams of rising up against the Chinese government, and, while working to make the settlement habitable, occasionally shot a few rounds on their only weapon, an aged Kalashnikov.

I have also written about how the US authorities knew, almost immediately, that these men had no connection to either al-Qaeda or the Taliban, but how, nevertheless, they flew them to Guantánamo, allowed Chinese interrogators to visit them, and tried, in their tribunals at Guantánamo, to make out that they were connected to a Uighur separatist group, which, obligingly had been designated by the Bush administration as a terrorist group to secure leverage with the Chinese government in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

I have also written about how five of the 22 Uighurs in Guantánamo were released in Albania in May 2006, and how the others had to wait another two years for a US court to have the right to examine one of their cases, concluding that the government’s supposed evidence resembled a nonsense poem by Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I also explained how, last October, the government abandoned trying to claim that any of the other 16 were “enemy combatants,” but appealed when, ruling on their habeas corpus petitions, Judge Ricardo Urbina ordered their release into the United States, because they could not be returned to China, where there were fears that they would be tortured, because no other country had been found that would accept them, and because their continued detention in Guantánamo was unconstitutional.

I have also written about how the Obama administration shamefully defended its predecessor’s opinion in the Court of Appeals, and refused to push to release the men in the US, and how, as a result, officials were once more obliged to scour the world seeking countries prepared to enrage China by accepting any of them, finally persuading Bermuda to take four in June, and now persuading Palau to take another six.

I have also written up the stories of these men, in my book The Guantánamo Files, in additional online chapters, and in articles over the last few years, but I am drawing them together here to tell the stories of six men who, nearly eight years after their wrongful and mistaken capture, are finally free from Guantánamo, even if an uncertain future awaits them on an island with no other Uighurs, and only a transient Muslim population of immigrant workers.

Survivors of the Qala-i-Janghi massacre

A Northern Alliance soldier poses by corpses after the Qala-i-Janghi massacre, December 2001Although three of them, discussed below, were amongst the 18 seized together by Pakistani villagers, three others were seized in different circumstances. Two, remarkably, survived a notorious massacre in a fortress in northern Afghanistan before they even ended up in US custody. Seized by soldiers of the US-backed Northern Alliance (the opposition to the Taliban), they and other randomly-seized prisoners were taken to Qala-i-Janghi, a mud-walled fortress under the command of the warlord General Rashid Dostum, along with hundreds of mainly Arab and Pakistani fighters for the Taliban, who had left the city of Kunduz, the Taliban’s last outpost in the north of Afghanistan, after a surrender was negotiated between the Northern Alliance and senior Taliban leaders.

Tricked into believing that they would be allowed to return home, some of the men responded to the betrayal — and fears that they were to be executed — by starting an uprising, which was savagely put down by US bombers, representatives of the US and British Special Forces, and Alliance soldiers. The survivors hid in a basement while the battle raged, and 86 men emerged a week later, after the basement had been bombed and, eventually, flooded. The survivors included three Uighurs, and two of these men — Ahmad Tourson and Nag Mohammed — were released in Palau.

Almost nothing is known about Mohammed (identified on his release as Edham Mamet), who was 26 years old at the time, as he refused to take part in his tribunal at Guantánamo or any of the military’s annual review boards, and also refused to meet with his lawyers, but Tourson, who was 30 when seized, attended his tribunal — one of the Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs), deliberately one-side affairs convened in 2004-05 to assess whether the prisoners were “enemy combatants,” who could continue to be held without charge or trial — and willingly explained how, in 2000, he had traveled to Afghanistan with his family, but was caught in the street by Northern Alliance forces in November 2001 and taken to Qala-i-Janghi.

Describing the circumstances of his arrest, he said, “Foreigners, bad people, good people, soldiers, fighters. Everybody walks through the street and I am passing through the road, then I am captured by General Dostum’s troops. It does not explain that all these people are al-Qaeda. It is kind of funny looking. Everybody walks in the street, everybody walks.”

Talking about his experience of the Qala-i-Janghi massacre, he stated, “I was taken there when I was captured. I did not participate in the riot. They dropped bombs and I was injured. I was not a soldier.” He also told the tribunal that a Uighur friend of his was killed in Qala-i-Janghi, and provide the panel of military officers with one of the most succinct explanations of why neither he nor any of his fellow Uighurs would wish to fight Americans. “I have nothing against the Americans,” he said. “Why would I participate in the riot? All Uighurs have one enemy, the Chinese. We have no other enemies.”

A stray Uighur seized in Pakistan

The other Uighur who was not seized as part of the group of 18 is Adel Noori, who was 32 years old at the time of his capture, and, who, like his fellow countrymen, maintained in Guantánamo that he had only one enemy — the Chinese Communist government. He explained that he was “never asked to participate in a jihad against the United States while in Afghanistan,” and “had no negative feelings toward the United States.”

Noori had arrived in Kabul in July 2001 and had stayed at a house until the US began bombing the city in October. Denying an allegation that the house was a “training camp,” he explained, “It was a small house and not a training camp. There wasn’t any room for training.” When the bombing began, he said that he and the other Uighurs in the house “ran in all directions for safety.” He and three companions ended up fleeing to Pakistan, where, according to the US authorities, they “were arrested by the Pakistani police while trying to evade detection (dressed in burkas)” in Lahore on January 15, 2002, a desperate ploy at a time when Arabs and other foreigners in Pakistan were being seized and sold to US forces for bounty payments.

Three of the 18 Uighurs seized in Pakistan

Of the three men who were seized after fleeing the settlement in the Tora Bora mountains, Dawut Abdurehim, who was 27 years old at the time and who sold animal skins in China, told his tribunal that he lived at the settlement from June to October 2001, and, in response to an allegation that the settlement had been provided by the Taliban, gave the tribunal a history lesson, explaining how “the Afghan people and the Uighurs have had a relationship since the 1920s,” and how, “In the Taliban’s time, they just gave a place for the Uighur people … The place we stayed had trees around it. We didn’t step into other people’s property. We just stayed where we were.”

Abdurehim also explained that he and his 17 companions were captured in Pakistan after fleeing the settlement when it was destroyed in a US bombing raid. He described how one person was killed in the bombing raid — “his body was exploded” — and how afterwards “we moved around and some places even had monkeys that were also screaming at us.” He also described being visited by a Chinese delegation in Guantánamo, in which, he said, he was vaguely threatened, but reported that “some other Uighurs had conversations with bad, dirty language,” in which they were told that “when we go back to the country, we’d be killed or sentenced to prison for a long time.” He also explained that, after three years in Guantánamo, he had not heard from his family. “They don’t know where I am,” he said. “They think I’m still doing business somewhere.”

Another of the men, Abdulghappar Abdul Rahman, who was 28 at the time of capture, told his tribunal that he had traveled to Afghanistan to “get some training to fight back against the Chinese government,” but although he arrived at the settlement in the mountains near Jalalabad in June 2001, he explained that he actually spent most of his time working on mending the house that was there, and on only one occasion shot three bullets from the solitary Kalashnikov.

In common with his compatriots, he also stressed that he had nothing against the United States. He said that his own people “and my own family are being tortured under the Chinese government,” and when asked, “Was it your intention when you were training to fight against the US or its allies?” came up with an answer that summed up the feelings of all of Guantánamo’s Uighurs even more forcefully than Ahmad Tourson: “I have one point: a billion Chinese enemies, that is enough for me. Why would I get more enemies?”

In December 2007, Abdulghappar wrote a letter from Guantánamo, which I published after it was cleared by the Pentagon’s censors and made available by his lawyers in March 2008. In it, he explained how he and his companions “left our homeland in order to escape from the brutal suppression and unfair treatment from the Chinese government towards our people. The Uighur youth back home were either incarcerated because of false accusations or prosecuted and executed because of bogus allegations. It was extremely difficult for any Uighur to see a future for themselves within our homeland, and both young and middle-aged Uighurs started to leave East Turkistan [the Uighurs’ name for their homeland before Chinese occupation] and try to find survival abroad, if anyone could find a way to get out.”

After explaining the circumstances of the men’s capture, he lamented the fact that the US authorities had failed to recognize their plight:

We were very pleased at the beginning when the Pakistanis turned us over to American custody. We sincerely hoped that America would be sympathetic to us and help us. Unfortunately, the facts were different. Although in 2004 and 2005 we were told that we were innocent, we have been incarcerated in jail for the past six years until the present day. We fail to know why we are still in jail here. We still hope that the US government will free us soon and send us to a safe place. Being away from family, away from our homeland, and also away from the outside world and losing any contact with anyone is not suitable for a human being, as, also, is being forbidden from experiencing natural sunlight and natural air, and being surrounded by a metal box on all sides.

He then described how his health had declined, and how one of his countrymen, Abdulrazaq (who is still at Guantánamo) had been told in August 2007 that he would be released. As a result, he asked to be moved from the isolated cells in Camp 6, and embarked on a hunger strike when his request was refused. Abdulghappar added:

Currently, he is on punishment and his situation is even worse. He is shackled to the restraint chair and force-fed twice a day by the guards, who wear glass shields on their faces … Abdulrazaq would never want to go on hunger strike. However, the circumstances here forced him to do so, as he had no other choice. If the oppression was not unbearable, who would want to throw himself on a burning fire? In the US constitution, is it a crime for someone to ask to protect his health and to ask for his rights? If it does count as a crime, then what is the difference between the US constitution and the Communist constitution?

Little is known of the last man, Anwar Hassan, who was 27 when he was seized, because he, like Nag Mohamed, refused to take part in his tribunal or his review boards. However, his lawyers, Angela Vigil and George Clarke, explained that he was one of several prisoners whose tribunals had been reconvened when they produced what Matthew Waxman, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs, regarded as the wrong result. They noted that, “contrary to the government’s suggestion,” the change of determination between the first and second CSRTs was not based on “additional classified information” (of which there was none), but seemed, instead, to have been based solely on “communications” from Matthew Waxman “pressing for [a] reversal” of the first CSRT determination.

The “do-over” tribunals were a low point, even for the Bush administration, with its complete disregard for fairness, justice and the law, but with a massacre, human trafficking for bounty payments, cynical deals between the US and Chinese governments, and hunger strikes and force-feeding as part of these men’s experience of US custody, it remains a disappointment to me that they have now — apparently for nearly $100,000 a head — been thrown on the tender mercies of the people of Palau, rather than being allowed to settle in the United States.

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 I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009, details about my film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

As published on the Huffington Post, Antiwar.com and CounterPunch.

See the following for articles about the 142 prisoners released from Guantánamo from June 2007 to January 2009, and the 19 prisoners released from February to October 2009, whose stories are covered in more detail than is available anywhere else –- either in print or on the Internet –- although many of them, of course, are also covered in The Guantánamo Files: June 2007 –- 2 Tunisians, 4 Yemenis (here, here and here); July 2007 –- 16 Saudis; August 2007 –- 1 Bahraini, 5 Afghans; September 2007 –- 16 Saudis; September 2007 –- 1 Mauritanian; September 2007 –- 1 Libyan, 1 Yemeni, 6 Afghans; November 2007 –- 3 Jordanians, 8 Afghans; November 2007 –- 14 Saudis; December 2007 –- 2 Sudanese; December 2007 –- 13 Afghans (here and here); December 2007 –- 3 British residents; December 2007 –- 10 Saudis; May 2008 –- 3 Sudanese, 1 Moroccan, 5 Afghans (here, here and here); July 2008 –- 2 Algerians; July 2008 –- 1 Qatari, 1 United Arab Emirati, 1 Afghan; August 2008 –- 2 Algerians; September 2008 –- 1 Pakistani, 2 Afghans (here and here); September 2008 –- 1 Sudanese, 1 Algerian; November 2008 –- 1 Kazakh, 1 Somali, 1 Tajik; November 2008 –- 2 Algerians; November 2008 –- 1 Yemeni (Salim Hamdan) repatriated to serve out the last month of his sentence; December 2008 –- 3 Bosnian Algerians; January 2009 –- 1 Afghan, 1 Algerian, 4 Iraqis; February 2009 — 1 British resident (Binyam Mohamed); May 2009 — 1 Bosnian Algerian (Lakhdar Boumediene); June 2009 — 1 Chadian (Mohammed El-Gharani), 4 Uighurs, 1 Iraqi, 3 Saudis (here and here); August 2009 — 1 Afghan (Mohamed Jawad), 2 Syrians to Portugal; September 2009 — 1 Yemeni, 2 Uzbeks to Ireland (here and here); October 2009 — 1 Kuwaiti, 1 prisoner of undisclosed nationality to Belgium.

For a sequence of articles dealing with the Uighurs in Guantánamo, see: The Guantánamo whistleblower, a Libyan shopkeeper, some Chinese Muslims and a desperate government (July 2007), Guantánamo’s Uyghurs: Stranded in Albania (October 2007), Former Guantánamo detainee seeks asylum in Sweden (November 2007), A transcript of Sabin Willett’s speech in Stockholm (November 2007), Support for ex-Guantánamo detainee’s Swedish asylum claim (January 2008), A Chinese Muslim’s desperate plea from Guantánamo (March 2008), Former Guantánamo prisoner denied asylum in Sweden (June 2008), Six Years Late, Court Throws Out Guantánamo Case (June 2008), Guantánamo as Alice in Wonderland (July 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), A Pastor’s Plea for the Guantánamo Uyghurs (October 2008), Guantánamo: Justice Delayed or Justice Denied? (October 2008), Sabin Willett’s letter to the Justice Department (November 2008), Will Europe Take The Cleared Guantánamo Prisoners? (December 2008), A New Year Message to Barack Obama: Free the Guantánamo Uighurs (January 2009), Guantanamo’s refugees (February 2009), Bad News And Good News For The Guantánamo Uighurs (February 2009), A Letter To Barack Obama From A Guantánamo Uighur (March 2009), Obama’s First 100 Days: A Start On Guantánamo, But Not Enough (May 2009), Pain At Guantánamo And Paralysis In Government (May 2009), Guantánamo: A Prison Built On Lies (May 2009), Guantánamo: A Real Uyghur Slams Newt Gingrich’s Racist Stupidity (May 2009), Free The Guantánamo Uighurs! (May 2009), Who Are The Four Guantánamo Uighurs Sent To Bermuda? (June 2009), Guantánamo’s Uighurs In Bermuda: Interviews And New Photos (June 2009), Andy Worthington Discusses Guantánamo on Democracy Now! (June 2009), Guantánamo And The Courts (Part One): Exposing The Bush Administration’s Lies (July 2009), Is The World Ignoring A Massacre of Uighurs In China? (July 2009), Chair Of The American Conservative Union Supports The Guantánamo Uighurs (July 2009), Three Uighurs Talk About Chinese Interrogation At Guantánamo (July 2009), House Threatens Obama Over Chinese Interrogation Of Uighurs In Guantánamo (July 2009), A Profile of Rushan Abbas, The Guantánamo Uighurs’ Interpreter (August 2009), and the stories in the additional chapters of The Guantánamo Files: Website Extras 1, Website Extras 6 and Website Extras 9.

Justice Denied: Voices from Guantánamo – new ACLU video

In summer, ACLU representatives traveled to the UK to interview five former Guantánamo prisoners: Moazzam Begg and Omar Deghayes (both featured in my new film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” co-directed by Polly Nash), plus Bisher al-Rawi, Ruhal Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul (the latter being two of the “Tipton Three,” featured in the 2006 film “The Road to Guantánamo”). The short film that was made as a result of these interviews is available below (via YouTube):

As the ACLU explained in a press release describing the project as “part of an ACLU initiative against the practice of detention without due process that violates fundamental principles of American justice,” and which “the Obama administration has continued,” despite promising to close the prison, the five men spoke candidly about their experiences.

As the men spoke poignantly about trying to rebuild their lives after their experiences, Ruhal Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul pointed out that they don’t hold a grudge against the American people. “The drinks we drink, Coca Cola — it’s American. We still drink it,” Ruhal Ahmed said. “We still go to the movies. So we don’t hate Americans as American people.”

Omar Deghayes, who explained, “I experienced sadness in a state that I have never had, cruelty in a depth that I’d never seen in my life,” also made it clear that he did not bear a grudge against the American people, but explained that he wanted them to know exactly what happened at Guantánamo: “I want the people themselves, humans in America, the good people — which I met many of — to realize how in their names these ugly things were done to others.”

For further information about the film “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” and details of Andy Worthington’s US tour to show the film (from November 4 to 13), see here.

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 I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

Ali al-Marri, The Last US “Enemy Combatant,” Receives Eight-Year Sentence

Ali al-Marri, in a photo taken earlier this year in the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, South CarolinaSo it’s finally over. Ali al-Marri, a legal US resident from Qatar, who was held as an “enemy combatant” on the US mainland for five years and eight months without charge or trial, was finally sentenced in a federal court last Thursday. The prosecution was seeking a 15-year sentence, following al-Marri’s guilty plea in April, when, as part of a plea bargain, he accepted that he had receiving training in al-Qaeda camps and had come to the United States on a mission for al-Qaeda on the day before the 9/11 attacks. However, in the Federal District Court in Peoria, Illinois, Judge Michael M. Mihm accepted a request from a-Marri’s lawyers to take into account the nearly eight years he has already spent in US custody, including the five years and eight months that he spent in almost complete isolation as part of the Bush administration’s aberrant “War on Terror” policies.

I have been covering al-Marri’s story in depth since June 2007, writing up the painful details of his torture and noting, with incredulity, the rulings of the courts who backed the Bush administration’s policies, but it was not until President Obama issued a Presidential memorandum on his second day in office, stating that it was “in the interests of the United States that the executive branch undertake a prompt and thorough review of the factual and legal basis for al-Marri’s continued detention, and identify and thoroughly evaluate alternative dispositions,” that his long and unjust isolation came to an end, and he was reintroduced to the justice system that had been prepared to try him back in June 2003.

It was at that point that President Bush declared him an “enemy combatant” and moved him to the US Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, South Carolina, where he was held until February this year, and where, in his first 16 months of chronic isolation, he was subjected to the type of “enhanced interrogation techniques” that were prevalent at the time in Guantánamo (as I explained at length in an article last December, “The Last US Enemy Combatant: The Shocking Story of Ali al-Marri”).

Al-Marri’s long years of extra-legal detention and torture — like those endured by two other Americans, Yasser Hamdi and Jose Padilla — are a black mark on America’s recent history, and it has always amazed me that even Americans who were — and are — content to let foreigners suffer in Guantánamo and other “War on Terror” prisons did not feel a shiver of apprehension when fellow Americans were subjected to the same treatment on US soil. Putting aside the ”terrorist” rhetoric, it should have been abundantly clear all along that this was the kind of tyranny that the Founding Fathers of the United States expressly set out to prevent.

In court on Thursday, al-Marri’s lawyers also urged the judge to reduce their client’s sentence because “he no longer harbored a desire to attack the United States,” and this is clear from a statement that al-Marri made in court (reproduced in full here). In what the New York Times described as “eight minutes of tearful testimony,” al-Marri told the judge, “I am sorry for providing assistance for those who would do this country harm,” and stated that he was “a changed person from the 2001 al-Marri,” explaining:

My religious beliefs — refined through years of thoughtful prayer and study during my incarceration — I realize prohibit me from engaging in violence toward any man. I forcefully reject any sort of violence for religious, political or other reasons. I say this to the court and I also state this to the representatives of my country who are present with us today. I know that the news people are here so I know my word will be received by those with whom I associated with in 2001. You have my word.

Al-Marri also spoke about the punishment of missing his children growing up, but it was the words about how he has changed that, for me, rang out most noticeably from the proceedings, overshadowing the prosecution’s claims that a psychologist claimed that al-Marri was “likely to engage in hostile acts towards the United States,” and setting a seal on this long and deeply unpleasant story of how, in response to a terrorist attack, the Bush administration sank to the level of those it sought to defeat, in the most appropriate setting for this conclusion: a federal court.

As President Obama prepares once more to revive the tainted Military Commissions at Guantánamo, I hope he has paid attention to the proceedings in Peoria on October 29, 2009, and has realized how hollow are the words of David B. Rivkin Jr., a lawyer who served in the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations, who, as the Times described it, “questioned the Obama administration’s decision to try Mr. Marri in criminal court instead of the military commissions favored by the administration of President George W. Bush.”

Stating that the sentence “underscores how ‘ill suited’ conventional courts are for dealing with these issues,” Mr. Rivkin proceeded to complain that criminal courts are “a crapshoot,” with wildly varying sentences, and claimed that the Military Commissions “arrive at a better judgment, being comprised of warriors, as to what level of danger the person poses.”

With federal courts having a proven track record of dealing effectively with terrorist cases, and with just three results after eight years of the Military Commissions — each of which, in various ways, was regarded as compromised or inadequate — it is, frankly, difficult to perceive the logic in the world of “warriors” inhabited by Mr. Rivkin, and far more comprehensible to acknowledge the words of Jonathan Hafetz, a staff attorney at the ACLU. For many years, Mr. Hafetz led the challenge to al-Marri’s detention as an “enemy combatant,” and, as the Times noted, he called the sentence “a powerful reminder that America’s civilian courts can deliver justice even in the most challenging circumstances.”

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 I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009, details about my film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

As published exclusively on the website of the Future of Freedom Foundation, as “Ali al-Marri’s Eight Year Sentence.” Cross-posted on The Public Record.

For a sequence of articles on Ali al-Marri’s case, see The Ordeal of Ali al-Marri (June 2007), The torture of Ali al-Marri, the last “enemy combatant” on the US mainland (November 2007), Court Confirms President’s Dictatorial Powers in Case of US “Enemy Combatant” Ali al-Marri (July 2008), The Last US Enemy Combatant: The Shocking Story of Ali al-Marri (December 2008), Ending The Cruel Isolation Of Ali al-Marri, The Last US “Enemy Combatant” and Why The US Under Obama Is Still A Dictatorship (both March 2009), Dictatorial Powers Unchallenged As US “Enemy Combatant” Pleads Guilty (May 2009).

Also see related articles on Jose Padilla: Jose Padilla: More Sinned Against Than Sinning (August 2007), Why Jose Padilla’s 17-year prison sentence should shock and disgust all Americans (January 2008), US Justice Department drops “dirty bomb plot” allegation against Binyam Mohamed (October 2008), Even In Cheney’s Bleak World, The Al-Qaeda-Iraq Torture Story Is A New Low (April 2009).

Ali al-Marri’s Statement In Court, October 30, 2009

Ali al-Marri, in a photo taken earlier this year in the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, South CarolinaAli al-Marri, who was held as an “enemy combatant” on the US mainland for five years and eight months without charge or trial, was finally sentenced in a federal court last Thursday (as discussed in an article here), and he made the following statement in court, which I believe is worth reproducing in full:

Ali al-Marri’s statement

In the name of Allah, all praise to Allah, end peace and prayers of Allah be upon his last messenger Muhammad, the messenger of mercy.

Judge Mihm, peace be upon those who follow the guidance. I would like to start by saying that I have been waiting for this day for the last 2,880 days or the last 8 years.

Judge Mihm, I am glad I have no blood on my hand and my assistance did not cause any bloodshed or lead to that either, nor would I have ever agreed to that and I will never agree to that in the future, but I am sorry for providing assistance for those who would do this country harm.

Judge Mihm, all of my captors know that I speak my mind be it in religion, politics or personal issues. And you have heard [from] some of the American people who were responsible for detaining me that I was never violent or expressed a desire to harm them or any American people.

My religious beliefs — refined through years of thoughtful prayer and study during my incarceration — I realize prohibit me from engaging in violence toward any man. I forcefully reject any sort of violence for religious, political or other reasons. I say this to the court and I also state this to the representatives of my country who are present with us today. I know that the news people are here so I know my word will be received by those with whom I associated with in 2001. You have my word.

I had to make my position clear when I spoke to [US Attorney David] Risley and the FBI before entering my guilty plea. At that time I was not under threat or abuse and I spoke the truth about my activities.

As you have seen pictures of my kids when I left them eight years ago and their recent pictures, missing all of those years, missing hearing the first words of my youngest child, missing the crying of not wanting to go to school, missing solving their problems with kids in the schools or in the neighborhood, missing their smile and laughter of buying them toys, or new things, missing not being there to take care, protect, and provide as fathers do. Missing all of that and all of the father-kids’ activities is more than enough punishment. My 80-year-old mother, 5 kids, wife, 7 brothers, 4 sisters, more than 70 nephews and nieces and about 12 grandchildren (from my nephews and nieces) are being punished too of no fault of theirs, rather mine. And I said more than and about because it has been 8 years since I have been away from them.

Even though I am a changed person from the 2001 al-Marri, I hope you would look with an eye of mercy on me today, but if not, Judge Mihm, have mercy on the 80-year-old who tells me her wish is to see me before she passes away. I have already lost my father during my incarceration, it will be unimaginable to lose both of my parents without being there for them or saying good bye. Judge Mihm, have mercy on the wife who chose to wait for her 8 years imprisoned husband rather than going on with her life even after I asked her to but [she] refused and chose to wait. Judge Mihm, have mercy on the suckling infants who have never seen me, they only know me by name. Judge Mihm, have mercy on my American family, my brother and sister Andy and Cheryl Savage who cried yesterday when they read this letter which was one of the hardest things because I am causing pain and hurt to my family whom I would give my life for but it is out of my hand to alleviate their pain, Judge Mihm, I am helpless to alleviate their pain, but you are not. Judge Mihm, have mercy on all of them by sending me home to my Arabian family accompanied by my American family by giving me a time served sentence.

Before I finish my statement, I would like to give all praise and thanks to my Lord Allah, the Lord of all Lords for the support he gave me, and still giving and hope will continue. And I would like to thank my government who stood by me and my family during this ordeal. And I would like to thank all of the American people who dealt with me humanely and kindly during my incarceration, and Judge Mihm, as Allah and this court are my witness, I forgive all who harmed and caused me pain. And I would like to [add to] that my legal team (Larry, Mark, John, Lee, and the behind the scene heroes Jenny, Eileen, Alex, Bobby, and Heather) who I believe has done an excellent job. And remember what I said in our first meeting, my opinion of you will not be affected by the ruling of the court as it is not in your hands as long as you prepare well for the case. And it is beyond any doubt that you have done [so] with an utmost excellence.

Last but not least, I would like to thank my American family where it is an honor to call them my brother and sister, Andy and Cheryl Savage, who are also part of my legal team. You have changed my perception of the American people’s generosity, kindness and their culture fundamentally, to the better of course. I will never do anything to harm the American people. And I will still name my future son and daughter after you — as I promised before — if Allah blesses me with more children. I pray to Allah to assist me in showing you how much I appreciate your help, and I say show you my appreciation and not repay you, because I do not believe it is possible to repay you — monetary or otherwise — for what you have done for me, it is as trying to reach the stars with my hands. However I will pray — and always will — to the one who can, may Allah reward you as best as he rewarded any of his servants and make you, I and our loved ones to follow the right path that will lead us all to an eternity of life together in paradise in the afterlife. Amen.

I would like to remind myself first, then my love on that if today’s Judgment is favorable, it is from the generosity of all Generous and Merciful Allah, then the fairness of Judge Mihm, and the excellence of my legal team led by Mr. Andy Savage and Mr. Larry Lustberg, and if not, it is due only to my sins. I advise myself and my loved ones to accept Allah’s Judgment and be patient. As Allah has said in the Quran, “It may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you, Allah knows but you do not know.”

Finally, glorified is your Lord, the Lord of Honor and power he is free from what they attribute unto him. And peace be on the messengers. And all praise and thanks are to Allah, lord of the mankind and all that exist. (37:180 -182)

Note: This statement was originally published in the Peoria Star.

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 I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009, details about my film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

For a sequence of articles on Ali al-Marri’s case, see The Ordeal of Ali al-Marri (June 2007), The torture of Ali al-Marri, the last “enemy combatant” on the US mainland (November 2007), Court Confirms President’s Dictatorial Powers in Case of US “Enemy Combatant” Ali al-Marri (July 2008), The Last US Enemy Combatant: The Shocking Story of Ali al-Marri (December 2008), Ending The Cruel Isolation Of Ali al-Marri, The Last US “Enemy Combatant” and Why The US Under Obama Is Still A Dictatorship (both March 2009), Dictatorial Powers Unchallenged As US “Enemy Combatant” Pleads Guilty (May 2009).

Also see related articles on Jose Padilla: Jose Padilla: More Sinned Against Than Sinning (August 2007), Why Jose Padilla’s 17-year prison sentence should shock and disgust all Americans (January 2008), US Justice Department drops “dirty bomb plot” allegation against Binyam Mohamed (October 2008), Even In Cheney’s Bleak World, The Al-Qaeda-Iraq Torture Story Is A New Low (April 2009).

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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