December 2011 Newsletter
In this issue:
- Join us in Washington for 10th anniversary of Guantánamo Bay Prison
- North Carolina
- Pioneer Valley, Massachusetts
- Hearing for Bradley Manning Scheduled
- Military Commission: Nashiri Won’t be Released Even if Acquitted
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Latest Blows to Justice for Detainees: Congress and the DC Circuit Court of Appeals
In 2010, restrictions in the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress required the Secretaries of State and Defense to certify that Guantánamo prisoners to be released would not pose a threat to the U.S. or its military forces. Since the legislation’s passage, only two men have been sent home from Guantánamo Bay, both in caskets.
The legislation made an exception for court-ordered releases. However, each time a DC District Court judge has awarded a prisoner the writ of habeas corpus after careful review of the evidence, the Obama administration has appealed, and the DC Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned each writ.
The DC Circuit’s divided opinion overturning the writ won by Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif suggests that the court overstepped its authority in order to vacate District Court Judge Henry Kennedy’s order. DC Circuit Court Judge Janice Rogers Brown, writing for the majority, determined that Judge Kennedy should have treated a Bush-era document supporting Latif’s detention with a “presumption of regularity,” as though it were true. Judge Kennedy noted that the Department of Defense, which was familiar with the document (and may have prepared it nearly a decade ago), had nevertheless decided five years ago that Latif should be released.
Marcy Wheeler (emptywheel blogger) has determined which document is being used to hold Latif, and that it is based on Pakistani military claims that were used to collect bounties for handing over Latif and several other detainees. Read her blog here.
Many other writers, including Andy Worthington and the New York Times editorial board are calling for the Supreme Court to step in and reaffirm the writ of habeas corpus for Guantánamo detainees.
Within the proposed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, S. 1867) is a section that the Senate Armed Services Committee drafted in secret and approved unanimously. The section would require indefinite military detention without charge or trial of any terrorism suspect--including a U.S. citizen or resident--who is believed to be a member of al-Qaeda or an associated group and involved in planning or carrying out an attack against the United States.
The Obama administration opposes the section, and Senator Mark Udall had offered an amendment (Amendment 1107) to S. 1867 that would have deleted the provisions and required an orderly Congressional review of detention power. The Senate rejected the amendment Tuesday evening. See how your senators voted here.
Senator Kelly Ayotte has proposed an amendment (Amendment 1068) that would repeal the Executive Order banning torture. No More Guantánamos is among more than 30 organizations that signed a letter to all U.S. Senators urging them to oppose the amendment.
Join us in Washington for 10th anniversary of Guantánamo Bay Prison
No More Guantánamos urges its readers who can travel to Washington, DC, on January 11, 2012, to join us in observing the tenth anniversary of the illegal prison at Guantánamo Bay. The national day of action against Guantánamo, sponsored by a broad coalition of organizations including NMG, will begin with a noon rally at Lafayette Square. Organizers are calling for more than 2,000 demonstrators in orange jumpsuits, representing prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Bagram, and secret prisons, to form a human chain extending from the White House to the Capitol.
The coalition’s demands are to:
- Close Guantánamo and end abuses at Bagram
- End indefinite detention and unfair military commissions
- Charge and fairly try detainees or release them
- Ensure accountability for torture: investigate, prosecute and provide remedy for victims
- Revise the Army Field Manual to help ensure torture isn’t used again
- Fight Islamophobia
If you will take part in the Washington demonstration, please sign up with Amnesty International USA here.
You can help promote the anniversary demonstration through Facebook and Twitter. Download half-sheet and full-sheet flyers here.
If you are planning to observe the anniversary in your hometown, please let us know for the next newsletter issue. Consider holding a demonstration in front of the office of a member of Congress or other government office or holding a screening and discussion of The Response.
On October 25, Berkeley’s City Council approved a resolution supporting the closure of Guantánamo Bay Prison and justice for cleared detainees. The resolution passed with the support of nearly all the councilors; only one councilor opposed it. The resolution’s passage makes Berkeley the third U.S. municipality, and the first city in the country, to welcome to its community detainees who have been cleared as posing no danger to the U.S., but who cannot safely return to their home countries. The Massachusetts towns of Amherst and Leverett adopted similar resolutions in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
Rita Maran, a commissioner within the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, led the effort to draft Berkeley’s resolution and represented the Commission at last night’s meeting. No More Guantanamos provided research to support the resolution’s drafting and the preparation of supporting documents.
NMG invites other cities and towns to follow Berkeley’s lead. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how to go about it.
Witness Against Torture Chicago, an NMG affiliate, has been working with MoveOn.org and other Chicago organizations to gather 1000 signatures of people who support a city council resolution against torture. The coalition has gathered more than 900 signatures to date. To read the draft resolution, visit the group’s NMG web page here. Invite your contacts in Chicago to sign the petition and to support the resolution.
On November 28, Occupy Chicago passed this resolution, which we believe to be the first of its kind among occupiers in America:
Occupy Chicago opposes the language featured in the National Defense Authorization Act, which if passed would allow for the indefinite detention of American citizens by the military without charge or trail anywhere in the world. This expands and codifies tactics from the War on Terror of illegal detentions condemned by international law and our own constitution. We urge senators Durbin and Kirk to oppose this type of legislation in any form.
On October 3, 2011, members of North Carolina Stop Torture Now (NCSTN), an NMG affiliate, made a presentation and a plea to the Johnston County Board of Commissioners on behalf of Kassim Britel, an Italian citizen who was rendered by the CIA to Morocco, where he was tortured and held for nine years, from March 2002 until his release in April 2011. The CIA transported Kassim to Morocco via an Aero Contractors plane that is kept at Johnston County Airport.
NCSTN’s plea to the board was to take a stand as human beings who were elected to govern Johnston County, where Aero Contracts is located, and to demand accountability for the kidnapping and torture of Kassim Britel and other victims of rendition. A member of NCSTN read a letter to the board written by Britel’s wife, Khadija Anna L. Pighizzini, asking the board to take a stand. The board claimed that it did not have the power to intercede but expressed sorrow for Britel’s suffering and abhorrence of torture.
Britel’s story and a video of NCSTN’s presentation to the Johnston County Board of Commissioners are available at their website.
Pioneer Valley, Massachusetts
To mark the tenth anniversary of Guantánamo Bay Prison, January 11, 2012, Pioneer Valley No More Guantánamos (PVNMG) will display an installation consisting of a timeline, photos, artwork, stories, quotes, poetry, and video recordings that tell the story of the prison, its inmates, changes to US detention laws and policies and their significance, and what people can do to demand justice for the detainees and for current and future U.S. detainees or potential victims of assassination such as drone strikes. The installation will be displayed in at least two cities and towns in western Massachusetts this coming January. It is made possible through a grant to PVNMG from the Markham-Nathan Fund for Social Justice.
Hearing for Bradley Manning scheduled
The U.S. Army has scheduled a pretrial hearing for Bradley Manning, his first court appearance in 17 months of confinement. Manning is accused of stealing secret documents from the Pentagon and leaking them to WikiLeaks. According to the Army, the Article 32 hearing, to take place on December 16 at Fort Meade, Maryland, is similar to a grand jury hearing.
Although one of the charges against Manning, “aiding the enemy,” carries the death penalty, that penalty is not being sought in Manning’s case. According to the Army’s news release, “If convicted of all charges, Manning would face a maximum punishment of reduction to the lowest enlisted pay grade, E-1; total forfeiture of all pay and allowances; confinement for life; and a dishonorable discharge.”
Military Commission: Nashiri won’t be released even if acquitted
As Republicans in Congress demand that military commissions are terrorism suspects’ only passage for justice, any scintilla of justice vanished at the start of the commission of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri when the Obama administration indicated that it would not release him even if he is acquitted.
Read this story by Carol Rosenberg, Miami Herald: "Guantánamo’s war court can’t free captive found innocent."
Please Support Our Work
At No More Guantánamos, we believe that the American people’s support for closing Guantánamo Bay prison with justice is the most promising remedy for politicians’ scare-mongering and foot-dragging that have kept Guantánamo Bay prison, and many cleared inmates, in place for nearly ten years. With your help, NMG will continue to foster a fact-based debate and to build support among U.S. communities for taking direct responsibility for U.S. government actions and for the fate of prisoners who have been wrongly captured, held, and interrogated. Make a donation here.
No More Guantánamos
P.O. Box 618
Whately, MA 01093
Email: info (at) nogitmos.org