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No More Guantanamos

December 2011 Newsletter

In this issue:

Grassroots News:

  • Join us in Washington for 10th anniversary of Guantánamo Bay Prison
  • Berkeley
  • Chicago
  • North Carolina
  • Pioneer Valley, Massachusetts

In Brief:

  • Hearing for Bradley Manning Scheduled
  • Military Commission: Nashiri Won’t be Released Even if Acquitted

Please Support Our Work

Get involved! Contact us at about starting a local coalition or asking your coalition to join our nationwide network. You may also join here.

Please share this newsletter with a friend!


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.

Grassroots News:

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 to learn how to go about it.


Witness Against Torture Chicago, an NMG affiliate, has been working with 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.

North Carolina

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.

In Brief:

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)
Telephone: 413-665-1150


No More Guantanamos

June-August 2011 Newsletter

In this issue:

  • Des Moines, Iowa, chapter fundraises for torture victims
  • NMG and friends observe UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
  • Independence Day activities in North Carolina and Chicago


Get involved! Contact us at about starting a local coalition or asking your coalition to join our nationwide network. You may also join here.
Please share this newsletter with a friend!

New Fund to Help Uighur Former Detainees in Palau

No More Guantánamos (NMG) has set up a fund to help three Uighur former detainees and their families, who are now living in Palau. The men have sought work since their resettlement in November 2009, but unemployment in the small island nation is high, and their efforts have been unsuccessful. Moreover, the $500 monthly stipend that each man had been receiving will run out next month, leaving the men with no income. (The Tallahassee Interfaith Coalition had arranged for three Uighurs to have jobs, homes, and transportation had they been allowed to resettle in Tallahassee.  Read their resettlement plan here.)  Support also awaited them within the Uighur community of Fairfax County, Virginia, but alas, Judge Ricardo Urbina’s order to release the Uighurs within the U.S. was overturned on appeal by the Bush and Obama administrations.)

All three men have families living with them:

100 percent of the money contributed to the fund will benefit the men and their families, to cover medical care and other basic needs. However, donations are not tax-deductible. Donations by check may be sent to NMG at PO Box 618, Whately, MA 01093. (Please write “Palau Uighurs” in the Memo line.) Make donations by credit card here. To place a link on your website, please contact us at info (at) We welcome your support. 

Grassroots News:


Des Moines, Iowa, chapter fundraises for torture victims

On Wednesday, August 3, at 5:45 p.m., the Des Moines Anti-Torture Collective is hosting a benefit concert for victims of torture at the Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines. Proceeds will benefit the work of Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition (TASSC) International.
NMG and friends observe UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Witness Against Torture (WAT), an NMG colleague organization, was one of several U.S. organizations that traveled to Washington, DC, to observe the week leading up to UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. On June 23, 15 WAT members stood in the gallery of the House of Representatives to read a statement protesting provisions in the House’s Defense Appropriations bill that would prevent transfers of cleared detainees from Guantánamo Bay prison. They were removed and arrested. Read the statement and learn more about WAT’s week of activities here.

Pioneer Valley No More Guantánamos in Massachusetts drafted a proclamation to mark UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The mayor of the city of Northampton and the select boards of the towns of Amherst and Whately enacted proclamations.


Independence Day Activities

Members of North Carolina Stop Torture Now staffed a table on the grounds of the Carrboro Town Hall to collect endorsements for a NC Commission of Inquiry on Torture, the group’s current undertaking. Learn more about how the group is seeking accountability for North Carolina’s role in extraordinary rendition here (PDF).
The Witness Against Torture Chicago group mounted a sidewalk exhibit, called "Facing Freedom: Independence from Indefinite Detention," to coincide with the Independence Day commemoration by the Lincoln Park neighborhood on the grounds of the Chicago History Museum.
During a community celebration marked by a brass band, a children's parade, a squad of British redcoats, "the world's tallest Uncle Sam," recognition of veterans from all the services, and a keynote by Congressman Mike Quigley, Witness Against Torture Chicago shared information with attendees about the struggle to end indefinite detention and torture in places like Guantanamo, Bagram Air Force Base, and even in U.S. prisons and Chicago's own jails.
WAT Chicago's activities were inspired in part by a current exhibit at the The Chicago History Museum and by recent announcements by Congressman Quigley. Learn more about the exhibit here.
Congressman Quigley, who represents the area of Chicago that includes the Lincoln Park neighborhood on the North Side, recently visited Guantanamo and on his return stated: "We must do all we can to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility that threatens our national security every day." WAT Chicago worked with Congressman Quigley's staff in advance of the 4th of July event, and his remarks for the day traced the arc of the struggle for freedom in America from the historical events covered in the museum's exhibit to the need to end indefinite detention (as described in WAT's sidewalk exhibit of the "9th" Facing Freedom struggle).
WAT Chicago members collected signatures on letters addressed to Congressman Quigley and other local congressmen, as well as U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, about the need to end indefinite detention. They concluded their successful event with a potluck picnic.  Plans are afoot for additional actions in the weeks and months ahead.


Senate Passage of Defense Legislation Could Keep Cleared Detainees in Guantánamo Forever

Can your nation’s government, or another government, provide assurance that you will never commit a terrorist act? Would they be willing to provide such assurance in order to accept you as a resident? And if there is one documented incident of someone from your country, who was released from Guantánamo, going on to commit a terrorist act, even if you never knew the person, then you are out of luck, stuck in Guantánamo.

That in a nutshell is how the authors of sections of the Defense Appropriations Act of 2012 (HR 2219) pertaining to the prison at Guantánamo Bay plan to assure that no one currently in the prison ever leaves, regardless of their innocence. The bill, with those provisions, passed the House of Representatives on July 8th, and the Senate will vote on a bill with similar provisions soon.

Please call your senators to explain why these diabolical provisions must be removed from the bill.  Look up their telephone numbers at Before you make your calls, read an excellent guest column in the Seattle Times, The impossible task of predicting future actions of Guantánamo Bay detainees, by Jamie Mayerfeld.

The CIA's secret rendition sites in Somalia

Journalist Jeremy Scahill has uncovered two facilities used by the CIA in Somalia, in a back corner of the airport in Mogadishu and in the basement of the National Security Agency headquarters. His story, The CIA’s Secret Sites in Somalia, will appear in the August 1-8, 2011, issue of The Nation. Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman interviewed Scahill about the secret sites on DN’s July 13 broadcast.

NMG and other human rights groups challenge government secrecy on waterboarding

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and three other plaintiffs have challenged a lower court decision supporting the U.S. govenrment’s denial of a Freedom of Information Act request for information related to the government’s waterboarding program. NMG is one of ten civil liberties and human rights organizations that on June 10 urged a court of appeals to overturn a federal judge’s decision upholding the CIA’s right to withhold information related to “intelligence methods.”

The brief Amici Curiae “[seek]reversal of the district court judgment insofar as it applied Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) exemptions to deny access to Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”) documents pertaining to waterboarding, an activity publicly acknowledged by the President to be torture, and therefore, a serious violation of law.”

NMG wrote in the brief that we are “concerned about the effect on public dialogue of public officials’ claims that waterboarding of some of these prisoners was justified because it saved American lives. It also believes that the public has a right and a need to know about men whom our government has detained on the basis of confessions or allegations secured through waterboarding, including those that were later determined to be false.” 

Please support NMG's work to demand human rights for detainees.


No More Guantánamos is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Contribute by credit card or mail your check to

No More Guantánamos
P.O. Box 618
Whately, MA  01093


Email: info (at)

Telephone: 413-665-1150





No More Guantanamos
June 23, 2011

Nancy Talanian, Executive Director, No More Guantanamos, 413-665-1150,

Local Governments Issue Proclamations for June 26, International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Whately, Mass. Northampton Mayor Mary Clare Higgins and the Whately Select Board, both in Massachusetts, have issued proclamations recognizing June 26, 2011, as United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The Amherst (Mass.) Select Board will vote on a proposed proclamation on Monday, and residents of Chicago, IL, and Berkeley, CA, have also asked their local governments to recognize the day.
Members of Pioneer Valley No More Guantánamos (PVNMG), who organized the efforts in western Mass., note that the day observing the June 26, 1987, adoption of the Convention Against Torture has significance for Americans post 9/11. As the proclamation states, “incidents of torture and degrading practices perpetrated by or on behalf of the United States government have been documented in Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere.”
“It is hard for many Americans to accept the fact that our own government has tortured detainees and subjected them to cruel and degrading treatment,” said Nancy Talanian, head of No More Guantánamos, who drafted the proclamation. “But unless we recognize that it happened, and that it degrades not only the victims but the perpetrators, the policymakers, and those whom they represent, we risk it happening again and again.”
No More Guantánamos [] is a coalition of concerned U.S. residents, organizations, and attorneys who are working together to ensure justice for the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Bagram air base in Afghanistan, and other offshore prison sites maintained by the CIA and the Pentagon around the world. It works to ensure basic human rights for all prisoners, including the right to be either charged for crimes and tried or released, in accordance with international law, and not held indefinitely, and to find homes for prisoners who cannot return home. Its Pioneer Valley chapter is one of eleven nationwide.

No More Guantanamos

Call Congress Now to Demand Justice for Detainees


This week, we expect the House to vote on a draft Defense Authorization bill for 2012 that could expand detention and make it even harder for 89 cleared detainees to leave Guantánamo.

Please call your Representative right away.  (Find your Rep.'s phone number at here.)

Current provisions in the bill would:

  • Expand the president's authorization to use military force to include all individuals associated with Al Qaeda and the Taliban anywhere in the world, and to detain persons for the duration of the seemingly endless conflict.
  • Prevent transfer of detainees to the U.S. even for prosecution, ensuring that any future trials are by military commission.
  • Place more roadblocks on transfers of cleared detainees to their home countries or to a third country.

Please call your representative's office right away.  Urge him or her to:

  • Support amendments to H.R. 1540 that would remove the AUMF expansion and any roadblocks to federal court trials for Guantánamo detainees or to the transfer of detainees who have been cleared for release by the Guantánamo task force.
  • Vote against H.R. 1540 if those provisions are not removed.

Thank you for all you do.

No More Guantanamos

April-May 2011 Newsletter

In this issue:

  • No More Guantánamos hosts grassroots call on WikiLeaks release
  • New NMG chapter: Greater Cincinnati Peace, Unity, and Justice Coalition
  • North Carolina Stop Torture Now supports Commission of Inquiry on Torture
  • NCSTN follows up on letters returned from Guantánamo
  • Witness Against Torture plans June anti-torture week activities, responds to WikiLeaks release
  • Seattle church campaigns to free Guantánamo prisoner
  • Pioneer Valley chapter sponsors two Guantánamo conversations
  • Des Moines Anti-Torture Collective videotapes its weekly vigils
  • Phoenix activists don orange jumpsuits for George W. Bush's visit


Get involved! Contact us at info (at) about starting a local coalition or asking your coalition to join our nationwide network. You may also join here.
Please share this newsletter with a friend!

WikiLeaks Guantánamo release offers an opportunity for truth-telling

The 779 classified Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs) that WikiLeaks began releasing on April 24 offer an unprecedented opportunity for us to finally confront the flimsy evidence our government has compiled about hundreds of men to support their past or present indefinite detention at Guantánamo.
First, contrary to the stories the Bush administration told to frighten the public about “the worst of the worst,” the DABs include files on men and boys who were sent to Guantánamo by mistake, proving the claims of Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell at the time, and others that there were no competent battlefield tribunals to prevent innocent bystanders from being sent to the prison. 
While the documents portray the prison as an interrogation facility, some interrogations focused on gathering information unrelated to terrorism. For example, a taxi driver was detained and interrogated for his knowledge of streets in his area, and Sami al-Hajj, who remained in the prison for more than 6 years, was questioned about his employer, Aljazeera.
The interrogators’ reliance on prison informants supports the notion that Guantánamo was a lie factory. We have known for years about the interrogators’ harsh tactics such as its sleep deprivation technique known as the “frequent flyer program,” stress positions, and extreme temperatures, which extracted false confessions and fabricated stories. From the documents, we also have learned the extent to which interrogators relied on eight prison informants, who informed on more than 200 detainees. Some informants were tortured or otherwise coerced. The testimony of Yasim Basardah, who informed on 124 other detainees, remained in the detainees’ records through 2008, several years after interrogators doubted his trustworthiness.
A technique that some journalists have used to evaluate the documents’ believability has been to compare prisoners’ DABs with federal judges’ rulings on their habeas corpus petitions. The case of Fouad al-Rabia is a good example. Al-Rabia’s DAB calls him an Al Qaeda operative and funder; Judge Colleen Kollar Kotelly ordered al-Rabia’s release after reviewing his habeas corpus petition and finding his testimony had been extracted via the “frequent flyer program” of sleep deprivation and other forms of coercion, and furthermore, that his interrogators did not believe the confessions were true. Read Tom Gjelten’s NPR story comparing the two documents. Mr. al-Rabia, who had been a Kuwaiti airline pilot, remained in Guantánamo Bay prison for eight years, initially due to others’ false testimony, and later due to his own coerced false confessions.
While the DABs are quite free with their accusations against detainees, they carefully withhold information that would cast doubt on their credibility. Nowhere in the DABs will you find key information about the interrogators’ tactics to extract information, such as threats or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.  Nor do they mention the identities of the bounty hunters who turned the majority of the men over to the U.S. military, the stories they concocted about the men in order to collect their rewards, and how much money they were paid.
Well-meaning writers as well as Bush administration supporters have reported on the large number of “high risk” and “medium risk” detainees at Guantánamo. In fact, as blogger Andy Worthington and Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) attorney Shayana Kadidal pointed out in a recent conference call on the WikiLeaks Guantánamo document release (see next article), most detainees’ DABs give them a medium- or high-risk rating. Suggestions that releasing detainees designated as “high-risk” endangers Americans are misleading. Among the “high risk” detainees who have either been cleared or already released are a Uighur detainee named Ahmad Muhammad Yaqub; U.K. citizens and residents Moazzam Begg, Omar Deghayes, Ruhel Ahmed, Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, Richard Belmar, and Binyam Mohamed, all of whom are back in the U.K.; German citizen Murat Kurnaz; and Algerian Lakhdar Boumediene, who is now living in France.
Keep in mind that the DABs do not represent the current administration’s assessment of the remaining detainees’ potential threats. They are the Bush administration’s final word before the Obama administration assembled a multi-agency task force to review all available evidence and prepare its own assessments. Now that the DABs are out, CCR is calling on the Obama administration to release the 2009 task force determinations. Read the statement of CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren here.
Although the lawyers for the detainees would seem to be best qualified to point out the flaws in the DABs, and how the false information was extracted from their clients, they cannot do so. They are forbidden from discussing publicly the DABs or any classified government documents to which they are privvy, including some of their own notes from meetings with their detainee clients, as a condition of their security clearances. We owe it to them and to their clients to do all we can to speak loudly and to write forcefully in order to expose government falsehoods about Guantánamo and its inmates.
For more on the WikiLeaks release and how to use them, see the next article in this newsletter.

Grassroots News:


No More Guantánamos hosts grassroots call on Guantánamo document release by WikiLeaks

On May 3, NMG hosted the first of a series of conference calls to enable grassroots to hear from experts, to share their groups’ activities with one another, and to collaborate on strategies.
On our first call, Shane Kadidal of the Center for Constitutional Rights and blogger Andy Worthington, one of WikiLeaks’ ten partners for the release, spoke to nearly 30 call participants about the release and about strategies for overcoming claims that the finding of Osama bin Laden justifies torture techniques and continued detention and interrogation at Guantánamo Bay. Find a transcript of remarks by Kadidal and Worthington here.
Call participants have formed a new listserve to support a more in-depth conversation about the WikiLeaks-released DABs and strategies making use of them. If you would like to join the listserve, please contact info (at) nogitmos (dot) com. 
NMG is planning additional calls for the NMG community on legal and perceived roadblocks to closing the prison, the government’s “rendition” figures, Bagram prison, rendition, and accountability.

Greater Cincinnati Peace, Unity, and Justice Coalition is newest NMG chapter

The Cincinnati, Ohio, group is NMG’s 11th local chapter nationwide. Its members work for the defense of both human and civil rights and the elimination of both prejudice and racism.

North Carolina Stop Torture Now (NCSTN) supports Commission of Inquiry on Torture

NCSTN continues to support the work of the Organizing Committee for a Commission of Inquiry on Torture by recruiting endorsements of the Commission. The aim is to recruit individual and organizational endorsements that include recognizable opinion-leaders, mainstream communities of faith, and veterans' groups. A web-based endorsement form is available here.
In support of the Commission, four students from the University of North Carolina School of Law Immigration and Human Rights Clinic prepared a briefing book that includes results of their investigation including material drawn from meetings with officials in Johnston County, where Aero Contractors—the CIA front company responsible for dozens of extraordinary rendition flights—is headquartered.
Also, in Johnston County, activists continue to deliver monthly accountability updates to the Board of Commissioners. One of the two leaders in this effort, Chuck Fager, Director of the Quaker House in Fayetteville, NC, reported in April that this persistence was beginning to pay off, as individual Commissioners actively engage the regular visitors and have offered private encouragement.

NCSTN follows up on letters returned from Guantánamo

In our October 2010 newsletter, we reported on NCSTN’s work to involve their neighbors in their work by gathering and sending letters of support to detainees at Guantánamo. According to the Department of Defense’s Joint Task Force Guantánamo website, compliant detainees are allowed to receive letters from family and friends. However, at least two dozen letters gathered at community events have been returned as undeliverable.
The Department of Defense has not responded to inquiries as to why the letters were returned, so NCSTN members are seeking assistance from their U.S. Senators and the Congressional Representative of a constituent whose letters were returned.

Witness Against Torture plans June anti-torture week activities and responds to WikiLeaks release

Witness Against Torture (WAT) will gather in Washington, DC, from June 22 to 26 to participate in the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC) Torture Survivor’s Week. They invite you to join them on June 23rd for a march and action focused on the 172 men that remain in Guantánamo, particularly the 90 men currently cleared for release but still being held.
While they are in Washington, WAT organizers hope to meet with Department of Justice (DoJ) staff. Read their sixth letter following up on a meeting last year with Portia Roberson, the DoJ’s Director of the Office of Public Liaison.  Family visits for Guantanamo detainees is among several demands that WAT, NMG, and five other organizations demanded in a June letter to Ms. Roberson, which they sent prior to their meeting.
On April 25, WAT issued its press release, Wikileaks files reveal corrupt system of detention.

Seattle church campaigns to free Guantánamo prisoner

Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif is a Yemeni prisoner who was ordered released by a federal judge but who is still held indefinitely at the prison because of his nationality. After several members of the University Temple United Methodist Church learned of his situation at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day workshop, they decided to take action on his behalf. University Temple’s Church & Society team drafted a letter to Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and to Representative Jim McDermott, signed by 41 church members, urging them to take action to release Mr. Latif. Church members plan to follow up by meeting with their legislators. Read the full story here.

Pioneer Valley chapter sponsors two Guantánamo conversations

On March 30, our Pioneer Valley chapter held two public conversations on “U.S. Detention Policies a Decade After 9/11.” Speakers Pardiss Kebriaei of the Center for Constitutional Rights and Michael Sullivan of Ashcroft Sullivan shared their opposing perspectives on whether we still need Guantánamo or someplace like it to effectively prevent terrorism. About 200 people attended the programs at Western New England College School of Law in Springfield, MA, and Smith College in Northampton, MA. Watch a video of the Smith College program.

Des Moines Anti-Torture Collective videotapes its weekly vigils

The Des Moines group videotapes its weekly vigils and exchanges with observers. Watch a sampling of the brief videos on the Des Moines group’s page of our website.


Phoenix activists don orange jumpsuits for George W. Bush’s visit

In March, when President George W. Bush spoke at a private function in Phoenix, members of the End the War Coalition greeted him in orange jumpsuits and used a bullhorn to broadcast their speeches critical of the torture and war policies begun in his administration. Photos and videos of the speeches are here.

News In Brief:


Indefinite detention and military commissions become official policy

On March 7, President Obama signed an executive order making the 10-year ad-hoc practice of holding detainees indefinitely at Guantánamo Bay prison into a government policy that can be applied not only to 47 current Guantánamo detainees but to anyone whom the current administration or a future administration believes cannot be tried in a court or tribunal, but whom it considers too dangerous to release. Read the order here. Some Guantánamo watchers fear that some men may be detained indefinitely solely on the basis of their behavior at Guantánamo, such as their displays of anger at guards or at the U.S. government over their indefinite detention.
The order allows Guantánamo detainees slated to be held indefinitely to appeal to a review board every three years. As was the case in Combatant Status Review Tribunals and Administrative Review Boards, the government provides for each detainee to have a personal representative. While the administration also permits the detainee to have legal representation, it limits the evidence it shares with the detainee and determines which witnesses, if any, the detainee may call on his behalf.
On April 25, the day that President Obama announced he would seek re-election, his administration announced that it had given up on its plan to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators in federal court. Attorney General Eric Holder, who made the announcement that the men would be tried by military commission, had been confident that the men would be convicted if they were tried in federal court. He blamed Congress for the change and withdrew the 2009 grand jury indictment against the five men.

Many cleared Bagram detainees continue to be held

More than 1,500 prisoners are currently held at the military prison in Bagram, which is now called the Detention Facility in Parwan. Review boards at the prison have cleared many of the 41 non-Afghan detainees who were brought to the prison from other countries. However, more than a dozen such men remain behind bars. They include the three non-Afghan prisoners named in the Maqaleh v. Gates case: Fadi al-Maqaleh and Amin al-Bakri, both of Yemen, and Redha al-Najar, a Tunisian. 
In 2009, U.S. District Judge John D. Bates, who heard Maqaleh v. Gates, agreed with the plaintiffs that the Supreme Court’s Boumediene ruling granting habeas corpus to Guantánamo detainees applied to the three men because their situations are essentially the same as those of Guantánamo detainees, in that they had been captured in other countries and brought to a U.S. military prison. However, the Obama administration appealed, and the DC circuit court of appeals overturned the ruling. Find the Maqaleh pleadings on the International Justice Network’s website.
The men’s pro-bono attorneys have never been allowed to meet the men or to learn why they were picked up or what evidence, if any, against the men exists. Now that the men have been cleared, their lawyers have been unable to find out why the men remain in the prison; they suspect political issues between the U.S. and the governments of their home countries are involved.

Supreme Court refuses to hear Guantánamo appeals

In this term, the Supreme Court has denied certiorari for seven appeals involving detainees and has not yet decided whether to hear the eighth and final petition, Khadr v. Obama.
One of the seven, Kiyemba v. Obama, concerned the plight of the five remaining Uighur detainees at Guantánamo Bay, who have been free to leave the prison but who are afraid to resettle in Palau. The petition asked whether a judge who grants Guantánamo detainees’ writ of habeas corpus has the authority to order the detainees’ release into the United States, where they have been offered homes and jobs, as DC District Court Judge Ricardo Urbina did in 2008. Urbina’s ruling was overturned on appeal by the Obama administration. The Supreme Court denied certiorari because the men had been offered resettlement elsewhere.
Following the high court’s refusal, Sabin Willett, Counsel of Record for the Uighurs’ case, questioned whether the court’s Boumediene ruling granting the writ of habeas corpus to Guantánamo detainees has any meaning. Read his article, “Requiem for a Remedy,” on the Lawfare site.

Screening of The Response among this year’s Law Day activities

On May 5, public educational institutions, law schools, the general public, and legal professionals observed Law Day 2011. Organized annually by the American Bar Association, this year’s theme was “The Legacy of John Adams: From Boston to Guantánamo.” Nevada’s Law Day Live event began with a broadcast of the 30-minute documentary, The Response, a dramatization of a Combatant Status Review Tribunal based on actual transcripts, followed by deliberations of a three-judge panel. After the showing, a video conference linked panels in three courtrooms for a discussion. Both the documentary and the discussion were broadcast to the public via the Nevada supreme court’s website.

Please support NMG's work to demand human rights for detainees.


No More Guantánamos is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Contribute by credit card or mail your check to

No More Guantánamos
P.O. Box 618
Whately, MA  01093

Email: info (at)
Telephone: 413-665-1150


No More Guantanamos

February-March 2011 Newsletter

In this issue:

  • Des Moines, Iowa, is newest NMG chapter
  • January demonstrations in Washington, DC
  • Berkeley resolution to welcome Guantánamo detainees falls one vote short
  • John Hutson, Michael Sullivan to join Pioneer Valley No More Guantanamos in March 30 programs on U.S. detention policies


Get involved! Contact us at info (at) about starting a local coalition or asking your coalition to join our nationwide network. You may also join here.
Please share this newsletter with a friend!

What Are the Republicans Afraid Of? 
House-Passed Continuing Resolution Would Place More Roadblocks on Guantánamo Closure Efforts


Buried within the House-passed continuing resolution to fund the government through September are several measures that would prevent Guantánamo detainees who have been charged with crimes from being tried in federal court and that would make it even harder for the majority of detainees who have been cleared to leave the prison.

H.R. 1 passed on February 19th by a vote of 235 to 189. All House Democrats and three Republicans (Reps. Jeff Flake of Arizona, John Campbell of California, and Walter Jones of North Carolina) opposed it. Senate leadership does not plan a vote on the bill, and President Obama has threatened a veto. But expect government forces who don't want Guantanamo Bay prison to close will continue putting forward this wish list of more injustices.

Section 1112 would prevent transfers of any remaining detainees to the U.S. or its territories or possessions for any purpose, including trials. The Defense Authorization Bill had barred the use of the Defense Department budget for those purposes; this section would bar such spending by any department covered by H.R. 1 "or any other Act." The section names Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and adds "or any other detainee," to suggest that all remaining detainees are in the same league; they're not.

Section 1113 would place severe restrictions on transferring detainees from Guantánamo, with the exception of detainees who have been ordered released by a court or tribunal. It would require "the Secretary of Defense, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State" to provide written certification that the country to which a detainee is transferred will ensure that the individual will not be a threat to the U.S. in the future or engage in terrorist activity. Furthermore, the country must agree "to share any information with the United States that is related to the individual or any associates of the individual, and could affect the security of the United States, its citizens, or its allies."

As if those requirements were not sufficiently daunting to discourage foreign governments from accepting either their own citizens or the roughly 30 cleared detainees who cannot be repatriated and therefore need to be resettled elsewhere, the bill would prevent the transfer of a detainee in Guantánamo from going anywhere if there is at least one confirmed case of a former detainee who was returned to that person's home country "and subsequently engaged in any terrorist activity." The bill does not define "terrorist activity," but it would ensure that the only people who must pay for a bad decision by a government agent to release someone who later engaged in terrorism are the former detainees' countrymen who are still in Guantánamo. This subsection exempts men who have been ordered released by a court or tribunal. It also allows "the Secretary of Defense [to] waive the prohibition ... if the Secretary determines that such a transfer is in the national security interests of the United States" and he provides the certification described in the above paragraph. But don't count on Defense Secretary Robert Gates to do that: At a hearing by the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gates acknowledged that the U.S. has not been very effective at determining which detainees would return to the battlefield after their release.

Section 1114 would bar funds for constructing or modifying a facility within the U.S. or its possessions for housing Guantánamo Bay inmates. However, it takes away any appearance of cost savings by making an exception for the facilities at Guantánamo Bay.

Finally, Section 4009 cuts funding for the salaries and expenses of several "czars" and their offices, including Daniel Fried, "Special Envoy to oversee the closure of the Detention Center at Guantánamo Bay."

While some of these measures might appear at first glance to reduce the U.S. budget, they would actually be more costly to Americans' pocketbooks and to our country's already severely diminished reputation for justice. Their main objectives are to continue fearmongering and hampering any efforts the Obama administration might make toward extending justice and fairness to the men who remain at Guantánamo.

Republican politicians have worked hard for nearly a decade to portray the Guantánamo detainees as monsters, and to convince the American people that closing the prison or trying some of the men in civilian court would be reckless. The last thing they want now is for the American people to learn—by meeting some of the men, by hearing about how well they are fitting in to other societies, or by learning the truth about what the men suffered while in U.S. custody—to realize that they have been deceived. The House-passed continuing resolution was meant to ensure that never happens. At the moment it appears unlikely to become law, yet that is no cause for celebration. There are already enough roadblocks to justice in place for the men in Guantánamo and Bagram prisons, and enough misinformation and fearmongering to keep them in place for a long time to come.

Grassroots News

Des Moines, Iowa, is newest NMG chapter

No More Guantánamos welcomes the Des Moines Anti-Torture Group as our newest local affiliate. NMG currently has 10 local affiliates nationwide.

The Des Moines group has held regular street-corner vigils, including 30 in 2010, and held film screenings. As part of their work, they have done research and told the stories of two detainees who were victims of torture while in U.S. custody:

  • Ahmed Errachidi, who had lived in the U.K., where he worked as a chef, and who was sold for a bounty while in Afghanistan attempting to raise funds for his young son’s heart surgery. He was repatriated to Morocco in 2007.
  • Dilawar, a 22-year-old Afghan taxi driver who was beaten to death at Bagram Air Base in 2002 by U.S. military forces. His story was told in Alex Gibney’s award-winning documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side.


January demonstrations in Washington, DC

From January 11th through January 22nd, Witness Against Torture and allies from across the U.S. fasted, marched, held vigils in silent witness, lobbied, and spoke out as part of a well organized campaign called No Torture, No Bagram, No GTMO, No More. Read their blogs, watch videos, and see photos here.  The demonstrations marked the period between the ninth anniversary of the first detainees' arrival at the prison and the second anniversary of President Obama's 2009 executive order to close the prison within one year.

Berkeley resolution to welcome Guantánamo detainees falls one vote short

On February 15, a resolution put forward by the City of Berkeley’s Peace and Justice Commission fell one vote short of passage by the City Council. The vote tally was 4 in favor, 1 opposed, and 4 abstaining. The resolution, modeled after those adopted by the Town Meetings of Amherst and Leverett, Massachusetts, would have called on Congress to remove its bans preventing resettlement of former detainees within the United States, and would have welcomed a few detainees once the ban was lifted.

The city manager’s office had researched the resolution prior to the vote and had determined that, because “federal law explicity prohibits the transfer of Guantánamo detainees to the United States,” the City Council should take no action on the resolution. To the contrary, until Americans demonstrate to Congress, through local resolutions and other means, that there is public support for ending the ban, it is likely to remain in place, and Guantánamo will likely remain open.

At least one of the four city councilors who abstained from voting did so because of derogatory comments about Berkeley in the conservative media and comments prior to the vote, such as characterizations of the draft resolution as another “Berzerkely” thing.

Coverage of the city council meeting was misleading. Although nine Berkeley residents spoke in favor of the resolution before the vote, the Associated Press and several other media outlets chose to quote only the sole speaker who opposed the resolution. That speaker, Danny Gonzales, is communications director of an organization based in Sacramento, 77 miles from Berkeley, called “Move America Forward.”

John Hutson, Michael Sullivan to join Pioneer Valley No More Guantánamos in March 30 programs on U.S. detention policies

On March 30, NMG’s Pioneer Valley chapter (PVNMG) is sponsoring “U.S. Detention Policies a Decade After 9/11: Two Perspectives on National Security,” a conversation between Rear Admiral (retired) John Hutson, former Judge Advocate General of the Navy, and Dean Emeritus of the University of New Hampshire School of Law, and Michael Sullivan, head of the Boston law office of Ashcroft Sullivan and formerly the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts and director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

The two men will discuss their views in a noon program at Western New England College School of Law, Springfield, Mass., and a 7 p.m. program in the Neilson Library Browsing Room of Smith College, Northampton, Mass. Both programs are open to the public and wheelchair accessible.

PVNMG chose the conversation format to bring together opposing sides, not only on the panel, but within the audiences, on issues that have become increasingly divisive among politicians and the general public. Other event sponsors include the WNEC Federalist Society, the National Lawyers Guild WNEC Chapter, Smith College Government Department, the Smith College Republican Club, and Smith Democrats.

Another Death in Guantánamo, and a Detainee Who Wants to Die

On February 3, the Pentagon announced that Awal Gul, a 48-year-old Afghan prisoner at Guantánamo, died in the shower after suffering an apparent heart attack following exercise on an elliptical machine. Without an investigation, however, it is impossible to be sure of the cause of death. Gul was the seventh detainee to die at the prison.

Gul had spent nine years in U.S. captivity. He was never charged, and although Federal District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer had heard oral arguments regarding Gul’s habeas corpus petition in March 2010, she never reached a decision.

Had Gul lived, the Obama administration never planned to release or to try him. After his death, the administration revealed that Gul was among the 48 men whom the Guantánamo Review Task Force chose to hold in perpetual detention. As justification, the Pentagon reported new allegations as if they were factual. Among these new allegations are that Gul admitted to having recruited for the Taliban and that he “allegedly operated an al-Qaeda guesthouse.” Gul cannot respond to the new allegations; his lawyers correctly characterize the new claims as “slander.”

These allegations are just the latest in a never-ending stream of government allegations against Gul. His patient responses to questions in the transcript of his 2005 Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) portray a man who throughout his life did what he thought was best for Afghanistan, a country that has rarely known the peace he sought. Gul leaves 18 children and several grandchildren.

Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif is a Yemeni who has been cleared for transfer since 2007, was granted his habeas petition last July, and is among the men whom the Guantánamo Review Task Force has unanimously determined should be released from Guantánamo. He remains there indefinitely, however, because President Obama placed a moratorium on releasing Yemenis after the alleged attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to blow up a plane on December 25, 2009. Abdulmutallab had an unproven link to Yemen.

On February 20, Andy Worthington wrote about Adnan Latif and published one of his letters to David Remes, one of his lawyers: Another Desperate Letter from Guantánamo by Adnan Latif: “With All My Pains, I Say Goodbye to You.”

Judge Gives Bagram Detainees Another Chance to Win Federal Court Access

In 2009, the International Justice Network and co-counsel won a federal court ruling granting habeas corpus rights to three non-Afghan detainees who had been captured outside Afghanistan and transferred to the prison at Bagram air base in Afghanistan. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the ruling by Judge John D. Bates, stating that the court lacked jurisdiction. The three men—Fadi Al-Maqaleh, Amin-Al Bakri and Redha Al-Najar—have now been held incommunicado, without access to their lawyers, for more than eight years. (Witness Against Torture, NMG’s New York City affiliate, uses Al-Bakri’s story in its organizing. Read it here.)

On February 15, Judge Bates granted the men the right to amend their petitions and present additional arguments, including new evidence that the men were moved to the prison for the purpose of avoiding judicial scrutiny, that foreign nationals at the prison are now eligible for civil trials in Afghan courts, and that at least one of the three was tortured while in U.S. custody.

Read IJN’s press release and Judge Bates’s order here.

The Uighurs and the Supreme Court in “Kiyemba III”

The legal team for five Uighurs who remain in Guantánamo has filed a final submission with the Supreme Court on the men’s behalf. The submission known as “Kiyemba III” essentially asks the court to decide whether the writ of habeas corpus, and its Boumediene ruling granting habeas rights to Guantánamo detainees, have any meaning.

The five Uighurs won their writ of habeas corpus in 2008. Since then, they have turned down an invitation from the government of Palau to resettle temporarily in that country because they did not believe they would be safe there if China were to carry out its threats against them. Within the U.S., the men had invitations from a Uighur community in Fairfax County, Virginia, and an interfaith coalition in Tallahassee, Florida. Federal district court judge Ricardo Urbina, who heard the men’s habeas corpus petition, ordered the government to release the men to Fairfax or Tallahassee. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the ruling, giving sole discretion on matters concerning immigration to the executive and legislative branches. To date, according to the brief, not a single detainee has been transferred from the prison as a direct result of a habeas judge’s order to do so.

The writ of habeas corpus is meant to challenge the legality of the administration’s decision to capture and hold or continue to hold a detainee. Authors of the Kiyemba III brief claim that Congress’s legislation forbidding transfers of detainees to the U.S. are unconstitutional because they violate the Constitution’s suspension clause: “The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” They also question whether by refusing to accept transfer to a country where they have no connection, the men forfeit their right to habeas corpus.

It is uncertain whether the Supreme Court will hear the case. For more, read Lyle Denniston’s article, Uighurs defend judicial power, in SCOTUSblog here.

In Egypt, Suleiman’s History of Torture

When Egyptian pro-democracy activists ousted President Hosni Mubarak, their goal was not to trade Mubarak for Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s security chief. The Obama administration, however, did want Suleiman put in charge of a “transitional government.”

No sooner had Mubarak made Suleiman his vice president than Suleiman’s position as the U.S. government’s key point man for the “extraordinary rendition” program began to circulate. Suleiman, who was trained at Fort Bragg, presided over the torture and interrogation of Ibn Sheikh al-Libi, who was coerced into making a false connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. The torture was ordered by the Bush administration to justify its war against Iraq. Mamdouh Habib of Australia also was tortured by Suleiman.

For more, read Suleiman: The CIA’s man in Cairo by Al Jazeera.

To Avoid Protests and Potential Arrest in Switzerland, Bush Stays Home

Earlier this month, George Bush and his Geneva hosts, the U.S.-based United Israel Appeal, cancelled a dinner program at which the former president was slated to speak.

The host told the media it cancelled because of concerns that protests by human rights campaigners might turn violent. (Protestors had asked participants to bring a shoe to the protest outside the hotel where Bush was scheduled to speak.) However, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is certain that Bush’s fear of an arrest warrant prompted the cancellation.

CCR had prepared a 2,500-page case against Bush, which human rights groups had planned to submit to Swiss prosecutors if Bush had visited Switzerland. As a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture, Switzerland is obliged to investigate, prosecute, and punish torturers. Bush’s admission, both orally and in writing in his memoir, Decision Points, proves that he authorized water torture, euphemistically called “waterboarding” by his administration, which denies that it is torture.

After Bush’s visit was canceled, human rights groups released the case against him at a media event. According to Amnesty International, “Anywhere in the world that he travels, President Bush could face investigation and potential prosecution for his responsibility for torture and other crimes in international law, particularly in any of the 147 countries that are party to the UN Convention Against Torture.”

Please support NMG's work to demand human rights for detainees.


No More Guantánamos is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Contribute by credit card or mail your check to

No More Guantánamos
P.O. Box 618
Whately, MA  01093

Email: info (at)
Telephone: 413-665-1150


No More Guantanamos

January 2011 Newsletter

In this issue:

Guantánamo at Nine

Grassroots News:

  • New York City chapter posts prisoners' stories under banner, Are these men your enemies?
  • Pittsburgh, PA, the newest NMG chapter, advocates for Fayiz al-Kandari's release

Get involved! Contact us at info (at) about starting a local coalition or asking your coalition to join our nationwide network. You may also join here.
Please share this newsletter with a friend!

Guantánamo at Nine

Nine years after the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, opened as a law-free zone, 173 prisoners remain. Most should never have been brought to any prison, and they have been cleared for transfer but they cannot leave, either because they have nowhere to go or because they are Yemenis and continue to be held solely on the basis of their nationality. The Obama administration’s goal to close Guantánamo has faded from among its priorities. One of the 111th Congress’s final acts was to make closing the prison more difficult than ever.

But people around the world have not forgotten the men still imprisoned there or the injustices that the prison represents. In Washington, DC, Witness Against Torture held a rally in front of the White House, with speakers including Andy Worthington and Ray McGovern, 173 demonstrators dressed in orange jumpsuits and black hoods representing the remaining prisoners, and representatives from the Center for Constitutional Rights (, Amnesty International USA (, September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows (, and other organizations. Following that rally, the demonstrators proceeded to the Department of Justice, where sixty demonstrators blocked three entrances to protest the administration’s failure to close the prison. No arrests were made there, but in Chicago, ten demonstrators were arrested outside the federal building. Read the Washington Post story here. (…)

Witness Against Torture’s demonstrations will continue with actions in and around Washington, DC, and all over the U.S., and with 100 people nationwide taking part in an 11-day juice fast that began on January 11th and will end January 22nd, the second anniversary of President Obama’s failed executive order to close the prison within one year.

What you can do:

Grassroots News

New York, NY

NMG’s New York City affiliate, NYC for Guantánamo Justice, ( has written stories of three detainees, two currently at Guantánamo Bay and one imprisoned at Bagram air base in Afghanistan. The stories with photos are posted on the Witness Against Torture website. ( You’ll find the three men’s photos there, beneath a banner that reads, “Are these men your enemies?” Click on the photos to read the men’s stories.

Pittsburgh, PA

Our newest chapter is in Pittsburgh, PA. The group is currently working on behalf of Fayiz al-Kandari, a Kuwaiti detainee. Find the group’s page and al Kandari’s story here, and sign the petition to free him to the care of the Kuwaiti government.

Obama Signs Ban on Funds for Closing Guantánamo Bay Prison into Law

Last week, President Obama signed the Defense Authorization Act that Congress had approved in December, even though the bill bars his administration from using Department of Defense (DOD) funds to try Guantánamo detainees in Federal court and places unwieldy restrictions on resettling detainees outside the U.S. Obama’s signing statement accompanying the act states that his administration will work with Congress toward repeal of these restrictions. However, his statement does not indicate that his administration will interpret the ban on court trials narrowly—as a ban only on the use of DOD funds for trying prisoners. He could use Department of Justice funds to try the men, but he has not shown any interest in doing so.

The ban, which was attached to the Defense Authorization Act of 2011, prevents the administration from using DOD funds to bring detainees to the U.S. for prosecution or other purposes and adds conditions to future releases that will be nearly impossible for the Obama administration to meet. The current ban will expire on September 30, 2011.

No one in the Obama administration has criticized the continued ban on allowing any detainees into the U.S. for any other purpose, such as resettlement, nor have they indicated when the Yemeni detainees whom the administration has cleared—who continue to be held on the basis of their nationality alone—will be sent home.

We need to continue and to intensify our work to prevent President Obama and his administration from using Congress’s ban as a convenient excuse for ignoring the remaining prisoners at Guantánamo and the other men our government is holding in extrajudicial detention.

Algerian Who Won his Habeas Forcibly Repatriated; More Forced Repatriations Likely

On January 6, Farhi Saeed bin Mohammed became the second Algerian whom the Obama administration has returned to Algeria against his will. Both bin Mohammed and Abdul Aziz Naji, who was forcibly repatriated last July, had left Algeria years ago.

According to international law, the U.S. government cannot repatriate anyone to a country where he or she faces a risk of persecution, torture, or death. Bin Mohammed was so fearful of being repatriated that he had pleaded with the U.S. government to keep him in Guantánamo. His legal team had appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent his forced repatriation, and they sought other countries that might be willing to welcome him.

The U.S. government may be basing its repatriation decisions on Algerian government assurances that the men will be treated fairly. In the case of bin Mohammed as well as other Algerians at Guantánamo who have fought repatriation, his fear of the Algeria-based terrorist group, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, may match or exceed their fears of torture at the hands of the Algerian government. Their status as former Guantánamo detainees makes them attractive targets for the group.

The Algerians who have been forcibly repatriated and those who continue to fight their repatriation were sent to Guantánamo by mistake, in most cases due to a bounty arrangement with the U.S. military. Years before their imprisonment, they had successfully fled from their home country and likely would have resettled in other countries by now. In the case of Ahmed Belbacha, for example, he cannot return to his adopted country, the U.K. because he missed his asylum hearing; he was in Guantánamo at the time. The U.S. government, which removed bin Mohammed, Naji, Belbacha, and others from their paths toward asylum, then held them for nine years in one of the world’s most notorious prisons without charge or trial, owes these men help rebuilding their lives. Merely shipping them back to the country from which they escaped is a cruel way to end their extrajudicial detention.

Leak Suspect Bradley Manning Suffers Mistreatment in Detention

If we were to compare WikiLeaks “Cablegate” to the release of the Pentagon Papers, WikiLeaks is the media company, comparable to the “New York Times,” which published the leaked documents. Army Private Bradley Manning, 23, who is suspected of leaking thousands of diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, is the whistleblower, as Daniel Ellsberg was, if he did indeed release the files. If Manning is found guilty in a court martial, he could face 54 years in prison. But while WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is constantly in the news, Manning rarely is.

Although Manning has not been charged with any crime, he has been held for six and a half months in a marine brig in Quantico, Virginia, in solitary confinement. The conditions under which he is being held are especially harsh: No blanket or pillow, no newspapers, and no ability to exercise at will. According to his friend David House, who is the only person besides Manning’s lawyer who has visited him, these conditions have affected Manning’s mental state and have made him physically weak.

What you can do:

Manning should be presumed innocent and treated according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice until and unless he is proven guilty of crimes. The website ( lists several ways you can help Manning, including by contributing funds for his defense.

More on Guantánamo “Recidivism”

Our December issue reported on a misleading “recidivism” report that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence provided to Congress in December. The data suggests—without naming a single man—that as many as one in four former prisoners have fought against the U.S. after their release from Guantánamo. The questionable report undoubtedly gave members of Congress the backing they needed to expand its previous ban on allowing detainees into the U.S.

On January 11, the New America Foundation released its own report, “How Many Gitmo Alumni Take Up Arms?,…. Based on data… the report’s authors compiled from U.S. and foreign sources, they conclude that the number of released men who are confirmed or suspected of engaging in acts that threaten the U.S. or its allies is closer to 6 percent.

Please support NMG's work to demand human rights for detainees.


No More Guantánamos is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Contribute by credit card or mail your check to


No More Guantánamos
P.O. Box 618
Whately, MA  01093

Email: info (at)
Telephone: 413-665-1150


No More Guantanamos

December 2010 Newsletter

In this issue:

Wikileaks Releases Cables on Guantánamo, Bagram, and Rendition

Grassroots News:

  • Berkeley, CA, resolution to welcome cleared detainees heads to city council
  • Chicago affiliate to show documentary “Outside the Law” on December 14
  • North Carolina Stop Torture Now gathers letters for detainees and petition signatures
Get involved! Contact us about starting a local coalition or asking your coalition to join our nationwide network. You may also join here.
Please share this newsletter with a friend!

Wikileaks Releases Cables on Guantánamo, Bagram, and Rendition: What Might Have Been

NMG has reviewed about 50 U.S. State Department cables released by Wikileaks. The cables report on our government’s contacts and negotiations with foreign governments over U.S. detainee policies, requests to resettle detainees, and follow-up on resettlements. We believe that the following examples, had they been shared or shared more broadly, could have helped build support among the American people for closing Guantánamo Bay prison.

In a 1/15/10 cable from Embassy Luxembourg, classified “confidential,” the U.S. ambassador observed that former Guantánamo detainee Moazzam Begg “is doing our work for us, and his articulate, reasoned presentation makes for a convincing argument. It is ironic that after four years of imprisonment and alleged torture, Moazzam Begg is delivering the same demarche to [the government of Luxembourg] as we are: please consider accepting Guantánamo detainees for resettlement.”

Several exchanges with Germany, France and China concern the resettlement of the Uighurs, whom Federal District Judge Ricardo Urbina had ordered released to the U.S. in 2008, to communities where homes and jobs awaited them. The cables bring to light the difficulty for European governments of angering China by accepting the men. For example, in a 12/7/09 confidential cable from Embassy Berlin, although the state secretary expressed a willingness “to consider the two Uighur cases on humanitarian grounds, [he] noted that they would present special difficulties because of the diplomatic row which would likely ensue.” Switzerland eventually accepted two brothers as a humanitarian gesture, and the others were resettled in Bermuda and, temporarily, in Palau.

Several more exchanges report that courts in France, Spain, and Afghanistan who accepted detainees whom the U.S. assumed would then be imprisoned and prosecuted were ultimately released. For example, a 7/28/06 secret cable from Embassy Madrid explains how the Spanish court freed the “Spanish Taliban,” Abderrahaman, after dismissing him as a threat. “In early 2005, a confidential police assessment shared with [U.S. government] officials concluded that Abderrahaman had the ‘mental maturity of a 12-year-old,’ was ‘naïve and foolish,’ and did not seem to comprehend the gravity of his detention in Guantánamo.” The cable states further that “prosecutors had improperly translated Abderrahaman’s statements and had omitted exculpatory evidence” such as “a document in which U.S. authorities allegedly acknowledged that Abderrahaman was not a member of al-Qa’ida.”

A number of cables cover U.S. attempts at damage control, such as discussions with the Spanish government over Spanish National Court investigating judge Baltasar Garzon’s plan to investigate “allegations the U.S. tortured terrorism detainees at Guantanamo.” Then attorney general Alberto Gonzales and then Secretary of State legal advisor John Bellinger are among those who attempted to improve their audience’s perceptions of U.S. detention policies. For example, a 2/15/06 confidential cable from Embassy Brussels relates that Bellinger assured his audience, falsely, that “most detainees have been picked up by our armed forces on foreign battlefields,” although in truth most were sold to U.S. forces for bounties, having been picked up far from any battlefield. Bellinger also attempted to reassure his audience that the Combatant Status Review Tribunals had effectively determined which detainees should be released and which were dangerous.

But the single most pointed statement, repeated in some form by every government asked to resettle some detainees, is that it is a “pre-condition,” or nearly so, that the U.S. accept some detainees first. The foreign governments’ responses to our government’s unwillingness to do so are predictable and show how the lack of U.S. support placed their governments in difficult circumstances as they tried to help the U.S. government clear up its mess. For example, “The French public wondered why France should accept detainees who were too dangerous to be transferred to the United States.”

Finally, foreign diplomats did offer good advice that the U.S. government would be wise to heed. From the European Union (Brussels) on 2/25/09, a representative of Spain’s government put it well:

“[She] highlighted the gap between public perceptions of the kinds of detainees at Guantanamo and the reality that many are very low risk. She felt that this was a message the U.S. had to carry, and urged the administration to ‘plainly’ explain to Americans (and thus Europeans) that while some detainees are very dangerous, many of them do not pose a serious threat. [She] also commented that whenever a European newspaper ran a story on Guantanamo, they ran the typical picture of a hunched-over detainee in an orange jumpsuit. She said that ‘we need better pictures’ and urged us to turn the story around by showing low-risk detainees in a better light.”

The back-story in the cables is the enormous amount of work and the squandering of goodwill and foreign diplomacy over the U.S. government’s past mistakes and current unwillingness to be a true international partner and to share in the problem-solving, rather than foist the entirety of problems of our government’s own making upon our allies.

Grassroots News

Berkeley, CA, resolution to welcome cleared detainees heads to city council

On December 6, under the skilled leadership of Cynthia Papermaster, a resolution put forward by Berkeley No More Guantánamos received a nearly unanimous recommendation for passage by the city council from the city’s Peace and Justice Commission. Papermaster, who is also the director of the National Torture Accountability Action Network and Golden Gate Codepink Women for Peace, noted in her press release that the city’s approval of the resolution would be especially meaningful as “the home of torture policy architect John Yoo.”

The resolution now moves on to the Berkeley City Council, which is expected to consider its passage later in December.

Read the resolution and press release on the Berkeley chapter’s page of our website.

Chicago affiliate to show documentary “Outside the Law” on December 14

Witness Against Torture Chicago is sponsoring a screening and discussion of the documentary Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo directed by Andy Worthington and Polly Nash. The program will be held on Tuesday, December 14, at 7 p.m. at St. Gertrude’s Ministry Center. The address, directions, and a link to the Facebook discussion page are available here.

North Carolina Stop Torture Now gathers letters for detainees and petition signatures

NMG’s October newsletter reported on the campaign of North Carolina Stop Torture Now (NCSTN) to gather letters for current and former detainees, along with signatures on a petition pledging to work for accountability. NCSTN reports that its members gathered 800 signatures on their petition during three weeks in October. They also provided us with copies of some of the thoughtful letters to specific detainees which they collected and sent to Guantánamo Bay prison. You can read excerpts of some of those letters here

Fund Drive to Help Former Guantánamo Detainee Reaches First Goal

A huge thank you to everyone who responded to our November plea for donations to help Abdul Aziz Naji rebuild his life after his repatriation to Algeria last July. Mr. Naji’s lawyers used the first $5,900 contributed to order a prosthetic leg. Funds must still be raised for physical therapy to help him become really mobile. Once that is achieved, Mr. Naji can benefit from mental health care to recover from his depression. This letter from Mr. Naji’s U.S. legal team outlines the fund drive in more detail and includes an address for sending donations. 

Congress Receives Misleading Report about Guantanamo "Recidivism"

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence complied with Congress’s demand to report on Guantánamo recidivism. The Center for Constitutional Rights criticized the report in this press release.  NMG director Nancy Talanian’s Huffington Post blog also analyzes why the report is misleading and how it encourages dangerous, wrong assumptions and lawmaking.

Join Call for Investigation into CIA’s Destruction of Interrogation Tapes

Last month, a special prosecutor declined to pursue obstruction of justice charges against Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officials involved in destroying videotapes of interrogations and torture at CIA black sites, in violation of a judge’s order to preserve the evidence.

No More Guantánamos is a signatory to a letter thanking the National Archives and Records Division for demanding the CIA account for its illegal destruction of the evidence. The letter was drafted by

What you can do: Read and sign the letter, in the form of a public petition, here.  Organizations wishing to add their names to the current signatories should contact Amy Fuller, afuller (at)

Please support NMG's work to demand human rights for detainees

Contribute by credit card or mail your check to:

No More Guantánamos
P.O. Box 618
Whately, MA  01093

No More Guantánamos is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Contribute by credit card or mail your check to:

No More Guantánamos
P.O. Box 618
Whately, MA  01093

No More Guantánamos is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Telephone: 413-665-1150

No More Guantanamos

November 2010 Newsletter

In this issue:

Why we exist

Grassroots news:

  • New Berkeley, CA, chapter seeks city council resolution
  • Join Witness Against Torture in marking 9th anniversary of Guantánamo prison

Help a former Guantánamo detainee rebuild his life

Other news in brief:

  • Omar Khadr plea lets Obama administration off the hook
  • Bagram prison: judge supports Obama administration on secrecy
  • Bush still proud of waterboarding, falsely claims it saved lives
  • No penalty for CIA’s destruction of interrogation videotapes
Get involved! Contact us about starting a local coalition or asking your coalition to join our nationwide network. You may also join here.
Please share this newsletter with a friend!

Why We Exist

When Guantánamo Bay prison will actually close is anyone’s guess, but the closing alone will not matter unless our country changes along with it and our government, going forward, affirms its commitment to human rights and the rule of law. As we near the ninth anniversary of Guantánamo Bay prison, we are constantly bombarded with signs that such a day is still far off. This newsletter issue reports on a few recent examples:

  • Our government has left a former child soldier no choice but to confess to a crime that he previously admitted to only when coerced.
  • It continues to hide prisoners at Bagram, without sharing basic facts with the public, just as it did in the early days of Guantánamo Bay prison.
  • President Bush boasted that he ordered prisoners to be tortured (although he refuses to call waterboarding “torture”), apparently feeling confident that he will never face legal action for having done so.
  • A CIA official has avoided prosecution for destroying videotaped evidence of harsh interrogations that a court had ordered preserved.

The basic effects of stories like these are that government officials feel justified for ignoring the rule of law, much of the public believes that the government’s actions are necessary to protect their safety, and many of those who disagree with that assumption gradually lose hope of seeing any change.

What can we do when we are confronted with frequent scare-mongering and surrounded by people who succumb to it? Few who are convinced that torture and indefinite detention are necessary have been receptive to the argument that the rule of law is important for our country, and that it can even make our country safer. NMG believes there is an important reason why scare-mongerers try to hide the identities of prisoners, label them the "worst of the worst," or imply that they are all just like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: If people could see the prisoners as human beings like themselves, with lives, passions, careers, and families, they would demand that the men receive the same rights that they expect for themselves: to be charged with crimes and presumed innocent until proven guilty.

That is why we formed, and why the town meetings of Amherst and Leverett, Massachusetts, voted overwhelmingly to welcome former Guantánamo detainees to live in their communities, once they learned some of the men's stories.  We now have eight chapters nationally who are telling the stories of prisoners at Guantánamo and Bagram. Residents of Berkeley, California, are now organizing to pass a city council resolution modeled after those passed in Massachusetts. If the resolution passes, we hope it will inspire other community coalitions to use the prisoners’ stories in their communities, and to gradually move our society and our government away from the era of Guantánamo, secret renditions, and torture.

Grassroots News


New Berkeley, CA, chapter seeks city council resolution to welcome cleared detainees

Launched during Berkeley Says No to Torture Week, October 10-16, 2010, this coalition includes members of several local, regional and national organizations who oppose the use of torture and who demand that Guantánamo Bay prison be closed with justice.

The coalition is currently meeting with other local groups to seek their support for the resolution and for welcoming a few detainees, if the resolution passes and Congress lifts its ban on allowing any former detainees to live in the United States. Last week, it brought its draft resolution to welcome cleared detainees to the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission and distributed other supporting literature, including the stories of two detainees, Ahmed Belbacha and Ravil Mingazov, whom it hopes to welcome. In early December, the Commission will vote on whether to recommend that the Berkeley City Council approve the resolution.

The draft resolution is similar to the resolution that the Town Meetings of Amherst and Leverett, Massachusetts, passed in the last year.

Join Witness Against Torture in marking ninth anniversary of Guantánamo prison


January 11, 2011, marks the beginning of the 10th year of confinement, abuse and injustice for the men at Guantanamo. What is the human response to nine years of broken laws, broken promises and broken lives?

Witness Against Torture (WAT) seeks to put a human face on Guantanamo, to hold up the stories of the men there, and to remind people in the United States of the need for justice and mercy.

On January 11, 2011, WAT will carry out nonviolent direct action in Washington, DC, and will fast through January 22, doing daily vigils and demonstrations throughout Washington, haunting the sites of power with the specter of Guantánamo, the specter of cruel injustice.

WAT invites you to join them from January 11 through 22, in Washington or from your own community. Please contact Matthew Daloisio or Frida Berrigan for more information. Visit WAT’s website for updates.

Help a former Guantánamo detainee rebuild his life

Habeas counsel for former Guantánamo detainee Abdul Aziz Naji have set up a fund to pay for a new prosthetic leg and mental health care to overcome his depression.  Last July, Mr. Naji became the first Guantánamo detainee to be returned to Algeria against his will.  To learn more about Mr. Naji and how you can help him, read this letter from his U.S. legal team

Other News in Brief


Omar Khadr plea lets Obama administration off the hook

The Military Commissions Act’s lenient rules favoring the prosecution may have left Omar Khadr no option but to plead guilty to war crimes, after years of maintaining his innocence. The main charge, to which he pled guilty at Bagram prison at age 15, after an interrogator threatened him with gang rape, was that he had thrown a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier. We will never know if Khadr actually threw the grenade. Tossing the grenade was a war crime, according to the U.S. government, because Khadr was not wearing a military uniform at the time. This is a surprising claim by a government that is currently killing suspected terrorists and militants in Yemen and Pakistan, and claiming the right to execute U.S. citizens, using unmanned drones controlled remotely by operators in the U.S. whose uniforms—if they wear uniforms at all—cannot be seen by the victims or witnesses.

By putting Khadr on trial, the Obama administration ignored international treaties to which the U.S. is a signatory, which require the government to treat child soldiers like Khadr, who was 15 years old at the time of the alleged crime, as victims, not as war criminals.

Khadr will spend his last year at Guantánamo Bay in solitary confinement before being transferred for seven more years of imprisonment, which he may spend in his native Canada. The solitary confinement condition is curious, since there is no evidence that segregating Khadr is necessary to protect prison staff or other inmates. Khadr has spent years in Guantánamo Bay’s Camp 4, where prisoners live communally. Navy Capt. Patrick McCarthy, who was formerly the top military legal adviser at Guantánamo, has called Khadr a model prisoner who was respectful to military staff and who occasionally mediated between Guantánamo officials and prisoners.

In light of Khadr’s good behavior for nine years and his guilty plea, which saved the U.S. government potential international condemnation for trying a child soldier via military commission, the decision to place Khadr in solitary confinement, at great risk to his mental health, serves no apparent purpose but to show cruelty and vindictiveness.

Bagram: Federal District Court supports government secrecy

On October 25, Federal District Judge Barbara Jones of the Southern District of New York refused to order the Department of Defense to comply with the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit demanding basic facts about prisoners whom the military is detaining at Bagram. Unless an appeals court overturns the ruling, the government will continue to hide information about the prisoners, including the date and place of their capture, their citizenship, and why they are being held.

The freedom to hide such information about the Bagram prisoners makes the prison an ideal replacement for Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where the Bush administration initially assumed it could hide the same basic facts about its prisoners.

Bush still proud of waterboarding, falsely claims it saved lives

In his new memoir, Decision Points, President Bush proudly proclaims that he approved the use of waterboarding on Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The admission, in writing, amounts to a confession that the former president ordered interrogators to employ an internationally recognized torture technique, the use of which the U.S. government had previously prosecuted as a crime.

The former president attempted to justify using waterboarding by claiming, falsely according to British Prime Minister David Cameron, that it saved lives in the U.K. Cameron went on to say that the U.K. government considers waterboarding to be torture, and that it opposes its use on both ethical and practical grounds.  But even if the torture had caused the victims to reveal usable information, that would not have justified the torture nor proven that the information could not have been obtained without using torture.

No penalty yet for destruction of CIA interrogation videotapes

In 2008, then Attorney General Michael Mukasey appointed John Dunham as a special prosecutor tasked with investigating the destruction by the CIA of 92 videotapes showing harsh interrogations and, potentially, torture. At the conclusion of his investigation this week, the Department of Justice announced that it would not prosecute any CIA officials for the destruction of the evidence.

The decision to destroy the videotapes, in violation of a 2005 court order to “preserve and maintain” evidence of interrogations, was made to protect the identities of CIA agents who were involved and to ensure that no one could view, and become sickened or outraged by, the application of so-called “enhanced” interrogation techniques. The tapes’ destruction also denies the men whose interrogations were videotaped a means of proving in a court of law that their confessions were obtained through torture or other means of coercion.

The story does not end there, however. The National Archives and Records Administration, the government’s official keeper of records, had been investigating whether the CIA’s tape destruction violated the Federal Records Act. It put its investigation of the CIA on hold pending the outcome of the criminal investigation. Now that the investigation is over, it has resumed its investigation.

Please support NMG's work to demand human rights for detainees. Contribute by credit card or mail your check to:

No More Guantánamos
P.O. Box 618
Whately, MA  01093

No More Guantánamos is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Telephone: 413-665-1150


No More Guantanamos

October 2010 Newsletter

In this issue:

Get involved! Contact us about starting a local coalition or asking your coalition to join our nationwide network. You may also join here.
Please share this newsletter with a friend!

Grassroots News 



Witness Against Torture Chicago has affiliated with No More Guantánamos to tell the stories of detainees in their area. The group’s members have chosen two prisoners—Razak Ali, an Algerian, and Shawali Khan, an Afghan. Both men want to return to their homes.

The group plans to organize an educational event in Chicago later this year, where they will tell the stories of two current Guantánamo detainees.
What you can do: Learn more about this group or join them here. Not from Chicago? Find or join a local group here.

North Carolina

This week, North Carolina Stop Torture Now launched a two-part grassroots campaign of letter-writing to current and former U.S. detainees in their booth at a Chapel Hill street fair. Photos and more information are here.
In the first part, they are inviting ordinary North Carolinians to sign a letter to victims and survivors, pledging to work for accountability. They will continue gathering signatures on this letter at the Peace Booth in the North Carolina State Fair later this month.
In the second part, they are asking people to hand-write short letters of support to individual prisoners detained at Guantanamo, to let them know they are not forgotten.
What you can do: Find suggestions for writing your own letter to a detainee here.
If you live in North Carolina, contact NCSTN [email contact AT] to join their campaign.

Witness Against Torture (WAT)

On Friday, October 1, 15 anti-torture activists picketed the Department of Justice (DOJ) to demand a meeting that a DOJ official had offered to arrange for group earlier this year. Read the news release.
On June 15, representatives of WAT, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Defending Dissent Foundation, and Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC) International met with Portia Roberson, head of the Office of Public Liaison at the Department of Justice, to articulate steps toward closing the Guantánamo Bay prison with justice. At the meeting, the coalition delivered a letter (PDF) to which NMG is a signatory, reiterating its demands.
After a meeting that New Jersey-based WAT member Richard Sroczynski called “fruitful,” Ms. Roberson expressed her desire to continue the dialogue, including a follow-up meeting.” That meeting never took place, however, and the group’s letters and telephone calls to the DOJ to arrange the meeting seem to have been ignored.
January 11, 2011, marks the beginning of the Guantánamo prison’s 10th year. For the third year, WAT members will mark the day by beginning a fast and rallies in Washington, DC, which will continue for 12 days, through January 22, which coincides with the second anniversary of President Barack Obama’s executive order to close the prison within one year.
What you can do: To endorse and participate in WAT’s January fast and rallies, visit the Witness Against Torture website and contact them.

Torture and the Law

Americans generally expect the courts to carry out “justice,” but the politicians who write the laws (or not) determine our laws’ fairness. The outcomes of some recent lawsuits illustrate this phenomenon.
The Military Commissions Act of 2006, passed on the eve of the last midterm election, reared its head in Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld, a suit brought by the families of two of three men whose simultaneous deaths in Guantánamo Bay prison in June 2006 had been labeled suicides by the Pentagon. The stories told by several guards present at the time of the prisoners’ deaths support the likelihood that the men were murdered and that the Pentagon’s “suicide” story has been a cover-up.
In dismissing the families’ suit on behalf of Yasser al-Zahrani and Salah al-Salami, federal District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle did not dispute the evidence of homicides but cited the Military Commissions Act, which granted blanket immunity—retroactively—to those involved in the detention and treatment of the prisoners. Congress had apparently tied her hands, preventing her from hearing the case.
Justice is also limited by the laws that Congress fails to pass, such as clear guidance on the limits of the “state secrets” doctrine. “State secrets” should not be claimed to cover up crimes or embarrassment, for example. But on September 8, by a vote of 6 to 5, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals supported the Obama administration’s demand that state secrets were grounds for dismissing the lawsuit filed on behalf of five men whom the Bush administration had subjected to “extraordinary rendition, including Binyam Mohamed and Bisher al-Rawi. The outcome might have been different had Congress found the courage to pass a fair, unequivocal law outlawing abuse of state secrets.
One remedy is an American public that demands just laws. After all, we—especially our soldiers in the field—suffer from the more dangerous world and the justified anger and retribution that result from our country’s injustice. We need to call and, when possible, visit our elected representatives to demand an end to laws that prevent victims of our government’s laws and policies from seeking and obtaining justice.
But the same politicians who prevent just laws have also caused many Americans believe that torture works and that court trials are wrong for “terrorists” (and they forget that they are “alleged” until and unless proven guilty). That does not mean that minds cannot be changed.
A recent debate proved how quickly the facts can change opinions. On September 14, Intelligence2 hosted a debate on the statement “Treat Terrorists Like Enemy Combatants, Not Criminals.” Watch or listen to the debate, or download the transcript here.
Supporting the statement were Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen, author of the best seller Courting Disaster: How the C.I.A. Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama is Inviting the Next Attack, and Michael Hayden, whose past positions include director of the CIA, director of the National Security Agency, and deputy director of national intelligence. Arguing against the statement were David Frakt, an NMG advisory board member who represented Guantánamo prisoner Mohammed Jawad, and Stephen Jones, attorney for Timothy McVeigh.
The debate sponsors polled the audience before and after the debate. Before the debate, 33% of the audience agreed with the statement, 32% disagreed, and most (35%) were undecided. After the hour and a half debate, 55% of the audience disagreed (a 22-point increase) while 39% agreed. The team of Frakt and Jones had won the debate handily, disputing Thiessen’s arguments that President Bush’s policies including Military Commissions and indefinite detention at Guantánamo Bay have protected the U.S. from terrorist attacks since 9/11.
But while federal courts are the appropriate venue for trying suspected criminals, an October 6 ruling by Judge Lewis A. Kaplan in the case of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani demonstrated that it will not be easy for the Obama Department of Justice to do the right thing. On that day, Kaplan barred a key witness for the prosecution because Ghailani had been coerced into naming him. In order to successfully try terrorism suspects such as Ghailani and Khalid Sheik Mohammed in federal court, the prosecution must have admissible evidence, i.e., evidence derived without torture or other methods of coercion, to prove crimes. It would be tragic if the Bush administration’s policies allowing torture and other coercion forced the Obama administration to try all suspects via Military Commission, which allows confessions and other evidence obtained through coercion to be used against the defendant.

Documentary Review: The Response

The Response shows in just 30 minutes why Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) sanctioned by Congress were unable to distinguish between true “enemy combatants” (whatever they are) and innocent bystanders.
The documentary’s script, based on actual CSRT transcripts, brings to life the impossibility of a likely innocent Saudi detainee—permitted to attend only the unclassified portion of his tribunal—trying to defend himself against allegations that he conspired with unnamed Al Qaeda operatives: allegations made by unnamed informants whose testimony may have been coerced. Here is a brief exchange from the film:
Military officer: Many of your associates were involved in money laundering and the purchase of guns and weapons for Al Qaeda. Is that correct?
Detainee: For four years, I have told you that I don’t have any knowledge of this. Who is this person who is saying that I am involved in this? Tell me his name, and then maybe I can tell you if I know him. But I don’t know if he is a terrorist. Maybe I know him as a friend. Maybe I know him as a member of my team or somebody who worked for me. But I don’t know if this person is a Bosnian or a Jordanian or a Saudi or even one of your American Indians.
The Response shows not only the detainee defendant’s side but that of the three-member panel of military officers who have little or no information with which to weigh the reliability of “evidence” provided to them, but who are at the same time charged with reaching a very low bar in order to support continuing to hold the suspect—indefinitely—as an “enemy combatant.”
Find more information on the documentary, including how to order a DVD, here.

No More Guantánamos

P.O. Box 618
Whately, MA 01093
Telephone: 413-665-1150