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No More Guantanamos

July 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: New York City chapter chooses 3 detainees

NYC for Guantánamo Justice, whose members include Witness Against Torture [], recently selected three detainees—two currently held in Guantánamo and one who is Bagram prison, Afghanistan. Group members are currently researching the men’s stories, in preparation for sharing them through literature, public events, and the web. 
The detainees they chose are: 
  • Djamel Ameziane of Algeria
  • Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif of Yemen
  • Amin al Bakri of Yemen, who is currently held in Bagram

Closing Guantánamo fades as Obama administration priority, but not ours

Five months after President Obama’s promised Guantánamo closing date, few us us were completely surprised to read Charlie Savage’s 6/25 article, “Closing Guantánamo Fades as a Priority,” in the New York Times. According to the article, the prison is now unlikely to close before the end of President Obama’s first term in January 2013.
But NMG was dissatisfied with the administration’s plan to close the prison by transferring detainees to a SuperMax in Thomson, Illinois; just as we are with its plan to hold nearly 50 detainees indefinitely without charge or trial and to try some detainees by military commission, and with its policy of continuing the rendition program and denying detainees at Bagram and elsewhere the writ of habeas corpus.
The work of the grassroots and the detainees’ lawyers remain the detainees’ best hope for freedom and justice. By sharing the real stories of the prisons and their inmates with the American people, to replace the myths they have heard until now, then politicians will be forced to deliver real justice to the men and to end this sad chapter in U.S. history. We hope we can count on you.

Detainees’ imprisonments continue after “release”

Two recent stories about former detainees remind us that a detainee’s release from Guantánamo not only does not end his troubles, but it may not even mean freedom. For example, in January of this year, Slovakia accepted three cleared Guantánamo detainees. Instead of releasing the men, however, the government imprisoned them, in conditions that are so much worse than their situations in Guantánamo that all three men are on hunger strikes. Read Andy Worthington's blog here.
Two young Tajiks whom the Bush administration had held for more than 5 years before sending them home in March 2007 are serving 17-year sentences, based on their confessions while in Guantánamo that they had joined the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The men have maintained their innocense, and their confessions at Guantánamo—if the men actually made them--may well have been coerced.  Read their story here.
We attribute these men’s continued problems post-Guantánamo to the U.S. government’s poor record-keeping about the men, coercion of false confessions, and a policy of releasing men as “no longer an enemy combatant,” without exoneration. It is up to us to hold our government accountable for wrongful detentions by, at a minimum, doing its utmost to ensure as smooth a transition to freedom as possible, and help rebuilding their lives.

Why Omar Khadr will boycott his military commission

Canadian citizen Omar Khadr is boycotting his military commission, scheduled to begin August 10, because he has no confidence that it will be fair. He fired all of his lawyers and has refused a plea bargain that would keep him in Guantánamo for the first five years of a 30-year sentence and allow him to serve the rest of his sentence in Canada. The plea deal required Khadr to admit to committing war crimes in Afghanistan, even though the principle alleged crime for which Khadr is being tried by military commission—killing a U.S. soldier with a grenade—is not a war crime. The other charges leveled against Khadr, who was 15 years old when captured, include material support and conspiracy. Khadr, who is now 23, could receive a life sentence if convicted.
Read Khadr’s full statement here.

NMG News:

Meet NMG’s director at national peace conference July 24
On Saturday, July 24, at 10:15 a.m., NMG director Nancy Talanian and Pardiss Kebriaei, staff attorney of the Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights, will give a workshop on Closing Guantánamo. The workshop is part of the National Conference to Bring the Troops Home Now, which will be held July 23 to 25 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Albany, New York. If you are attending the conference, please come and meet Nancy.
NMG remembers Nancy Foster
Nancy Foster, of Amherst, Massachusetts, died on June 24. She was active throughout her adult life in civil rights, human rights, and social justice causes. As a founding member of the Pioneer Valley chapter of No More Guantánamos, Nancy was part of the committee of Amherst Town Meeting members that built local support for the first-in-the-nation resolution to welcome cleared Guantánamo detainees to that town, which passed last November. She also organized several public events to educate her community about Guantánamo and torture. Nancy also worked with the Bill of Rights Defense Committee to help pass a Bill of Rights Defense resolution in Amherst in April 2002. 

No More Guantánamos
P.O. Box 618
Whately, MA 01093
Telephone: 413-665-1150


No More Guantanamos

June 2010 Newsletter

In this issue:

  • Grassroots news. Pioneer Valley chapter cheers Ravil Mingazov's habeas win; new NMG chapter forms in Burlington, Vermont; trial for anti-torture activists begins June 14 in Washington, DC
  • Other NMG news: David Frakt joins NMG's Advisory Board; follow NMG on Twitter
  • CIA’s torture experimentation on prisoners, with a report on medical professionals' work to stop their colleagues' involvement
  • In the Courts: DC Circuit Court of Appeals overturns federal district court decisions on Maqaleh v. Gates and Kiyemba v. Obama.
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

Ravil Mingazov’s PioneerValley (MA) champions rejoice over his habeas win.
On May 13, Federal District Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., granted Ravil Mingazov’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus. However, the win does not necessarily signal his release. He is one of 11 men whom judges have ordered released but who are still being held at the prison, either because—like Mingazov—they cannot safely return to their home country, or because the Obama administration refuses to release them. So far judges have ruled in favor of releasing 36 Guantánamo detainees out of 50, or 72%.
Mingazov, who has been held at Guantánamo Bay prison for nearly eight years, is one of two detainees whom the Pioneer Valley No More Guantánamos chapter hopes to resettle. In fact, the group has supported two successful municipal resolutions that demonstrate the communities’ willingness to welcome cleared detainees from Guantánamo and that call on Congress to lift its bans that prevent any detainees from resettling in the U.S. (Read news stories by the Miami Herald and Inter Press Service.) Other NMG chapters are considering similar measures on behalf of their detainees.
The unclassified public release of Judge Kennedy’s Memorandum Opinion (PDF) highlights the weakness of the government’s evidence against Mingazov and many factual errors.
New chapter forms in Vermont
Last month, Burlington Open Arms became No More Guantánamos’ sixth chapter nationwide. If you live in or near Burlington, we invite you to join the group online here or contact us
What you can do
If you have friends in Burlington who might be interested in coming to a meeting, please let them know. A list of our chapters is here. In a country where roughly 60 percent of the country opposes closing Guantánamo Bay prison, more chapters sharing the stories of real detainees can help break through the misinformation that causes so many people—including government officials—to oppose both closing the prison and demanding justice for all men our government is holding in offshore prisons.
To find out more about what’s involved in forming an NMG chapter, contact us at or by telephone at 413-665-1150.
Trial for anti-torture activists begins June 14 in Washington, DC
On Monday, 27 activists who were arrested on January 21 at the Capitol will face trial. They were arrested on the Capitol steps for displaying a banner reading "Broken Promises, Broken Laws, Broken Lives." Another 14 activists were arrested inside the Capitol Rotunda, where they had performed a memorial service for three Guantánamo detainees whose 2006 deaths may have resulted from their torture, and not suicides, as the Pentagon reported. 
The January protests were the culmination of a twelve-day fast for justice and an end to torture organized by Witness Against Torture in Washington, DC. More than 100 people participated in the fast and daily actions throughout the nation’s Capital. Four of the activists on trial are members of NMG's Pioneer Valley chapter, and several New York City activists are part of NMG's effort in that city.

Other NMG News

We are pleased to announce that David Frakt has joined NMG’s advisory board. Frakt is a lawyer, law professor, and officer in the United States Air Force Reserve. As defense counsel to Guantánamo detainee Mohammed Jawad, he successfully defended Mohammed against charges in a Guantánamo military commission and earned his release through a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
Follow NMG on Twitter.

CIA’s torture experimentation on prisoners

On Monday, June 7, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) released Experiments in Torture, a 30-page report alleging that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) retained medical personnel who participated in experimentation and research on detainees in CIA custody who were subjected to waterboarding and other torture methods used in conjunction with coercive interrogations.
According to Nathaniel Raymond, who directs PHR’s Campaign Against Torture and is lead author of the report, “In an attempt to justify the war crime of torture, the CIA appears to have committed another alleged war crime—illegal experimentation on prisoners.” Such experimentation violates the 1947 Nuremberg code, a response to Nazi-era experimentation on prisoners.
No More Guantánamos joins PHR, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Witness Against Torture, and other organizations in calling for Attorney General Eric Holder to begin a criminal investigation of illegal experimentation and research on men in CIA custody.

Medical community’s work to stop torture participation

Long before PHR’s report, health workers around the country began working to prohibit medical professionals from supporting torture in interrogations. Here are a few examples.
California: On August 14, 2008, the California State Assembly passed Senate Joint Resolution 19 (PDF), which instructs the state’s licensing boards to inform California health professionals they may one day be subject to prosecution if they participate in interrogations that don’t conform with international standards of treatment of prisoners.
New York: The New York Campaign Against Torture (NYCAT) has worked with state legislators on a proposed bill to prohibit health professionals with New York licenses from involvement in torture. The bill has sponsors in both the New York State Assembly and the New York State Senate. Fran Geteles-Shapiro, a member of NMG’s New York City chapter, is a member of NYCAT and a supporter of the legislation. Learn more here.
Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Campaign Against Torture (MACAT) formed in 2008 to organize toward the development of an anti-torture bill in Massachusetts, using the New York bill as a model. Members of NMG’s Pioneer Valley chapter are involved in MACAT’s work.

In the Courts

Last month, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Obama administration on two cases that extended certain rights to detainees in U.S. custody, thereby barring Bagram detainees from challenging their detentions through a writ of habeas corpus and denying the Guantánamo Uighurs the right to resettle in the U.S. Neither case is likely to go to the Supreme Court, however. If they did, experts predict that both cases would end in 4-4 ties if Elena Kagan is confirmed to replace Justice Stevens and recuses herself for having worked on both cases as solicitor general.

Maqaleh v. Gates

The International Justice Network filed the case of Maqaleh v. Gates in 2006 on behalf of four Bagram detainees who were kidnapped outside Afghanistan and brought to Bagram prison, pleading that the men were entitled to the writ of habeas corpus. Last year, Judge John D. Bates ruled that the Supreme Court’s Boumediene ruling extends to Bagram detainees captured outside of Afghanistan, with the exception of Afghan citizens. The administration appealed, and the appellate court agreed, primarily because Bagram prison is in a war zone, which makes it inconvenient for the military to deal with habeas petitions, and because the U.S. government does not exercise the same jurisdiction over the Bagram air base that it exercises at its naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
The three-judge panel, in its opinion, assured the public that the Bush administration did not transfer the detainees to a war zone for the purpose of avoiding appeals, as if it is unaware that the Bush administration established the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for the purpose of avoiding U.S. and international law. It left the door open for detainees who are able to prove the government transferred them to an active war zone in order to evade judicial review.
The Obama administration is currently negotiating with the Karzai government to place the prison at Bagram under Afghan control. However, according to an unnamed senior Obama administration official, it wants to retain part of the prison under U.S. control for the purpose of holding and interrogating certain detainees whom it captures outside of Afghanistan, including in Yemen and Somalia. Read Agence France Presse story here.

Kiyemba v. Obama

In March, the Supreme Court vacated the DC Court of Appeals’ Kiyemba ruling, which overturned a lower court decision by Judge Ricardo Urbina who, in granting their habeas corpus petition, ordered the U.S. government to permit the men to resettle in the United States because they had nowhere else to go. The high court sent the case back to the appellate court to reconsider due to changed circumstances, namely an offer from the government of Palau to accommodate the men temporarily. Last month, the appellate court agreed with the administration that the men could not resettle in the U.S. and cited Congress’s actions barring funding for transferring former detainees to the U.S. as legal justification.

No More Guantánamos
P.O. Box 618
Whately, MA 01093
Telephone: 413-665-1150

No More Guantanamos

May 2010 Newsletter

In this issue:

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

First Obama Military Commission Tries Child Soldier. Report on the pre-trial hearing

The pre-trial hearing for the first Military Tribunal in Obama’s presidency began last week, following the delayed release of the new manual for Military Commissions.  The government’s justification for trying Omar Khadr by Military Commission is that, in its view, his alleged murder of a US soldier via a hand grenade was a violation of the law of war. According to Lt. Col. David Frakt, under the Military Commission rules, “A detainee may be convicted of murder in violation of the law of war even if they did not actually violate the law of war.”
The hearing is moving forward despite weak evidence that Khadr actually threw the grenade that killed an Army sergeant, signs that he was mistreated while in US custody, and his youth at the time of the alleged crime. Khadr was only 15 years old. Now 23, he has spent more than one-third of his life in US custody.
The big question is, why force a conviction by using a legal concoction that is inherently unfair, in which the prosecution and the presiding judge and jury are drawn from the same government agency, and in which the defendants—unlike their counterparts in a military court martial or a civilian trial—are not entitled to the same access to evidence that the government has.
The prosecution has called several witnesses to support its case. However, the government’s eyewitness to the alleged crime initially reported that the perpetrator died after throwing the grenade, then changed the record years later. The defense is expected to show a photo taken at the time the grenade was thrown, of a pile of rubble under which US soldiers later found Khadr’s bullet-ridden body face down.
Other prosecution witnesses, such as former interrogators, supported the government’s position that Khadr’s interrogations were friendly and his treatment humane, and that, therefore, Khadr’s admissions that he threw the grenade are credible. However, nearly all the witnesses have inadvertently provided pieces of testimony that support Khadr’s defense attorneys’ claim that all evidence against their client is tainted and should be discarded.
For example, Khadr’s interrogators at Guantanamo informed him that if he cooperated by telling his interrogators whatever they wanted to hear, he would go home to Canada more quickly. Descriptions of their friendly gestures—to a boy who otherwise was alone and lonely in his cell—such as friendly conversations and treats they brought him, can also be viewed as bribes to Khadr for telling them what they wanted to hear. And although none has admitted that Khadr was tortured, the medic at Bagram prison who changed the dressings on Khadr’s wounds twice daily admitted that one day he found Khadr hooded and hung by chaines to the outside of his cell door with his wrists above eye level. He lifted Khadr’s hood and found he was crying, yet the medic did not support a defense attorney’s suggestion that Khadr’s hanging in that way would have been painful, given recent surgeries to repair the bullet wound in his shoulder.
Col. Patrick Parrish, the presiding military judge, has refused the defense counsels’ request that they be allowed to question all of Khadr’s interrogators. However, Parrish did permit testimony of at least two of the witnesses the defense team selected. Joshua Claus, the Army specialist who conducted virtually all of Khadr’s interrogations at Bagram, testified on Wednesday. Claus was responsible for the violent homicides at Bagram of two detainees: Habibullah and Dilawar. Former Army Specialist Damien Corsetti, who conducted Khadr’s first interrogation at Bagram, also testified this week. In Corsetti’s opinion, Khadr was abused at Bagram in 2002, and he admitted that he participated in the abuse. For example, Corsetti used a false story about a gang rape and death of another detainee in order to frighten Khadr into cooperating with him.  Read about it here.
On May 6, the Pentagon barred Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald and three Canadian journalists covering the tribunal for naming Claus, even though Claus’s name has appeared in news reports since 2005, when he was convicted of abusing Bagram detainees.  Read the story here.
Khadr’s Military Commission is scheduled to begin in July. However, senior Obama administration officials and both the prosecution and defense teams are interested in a plea deal.

Grassroots News

Rendition Accountability is Goal of North Carolina Conference

NMG ally North Carolina Stop Torture Now (NCSTN)  teamed up with Duke University’s Human Rights Center, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Law, and others to host a three-day conference in April.
The goal of the conference, called “Weaving a Net of Accountability,” is to take on extraordinary rendition at the state and regional level. The conference organizers brought together some two-dozen speakers including writer Scott Horton, rendition survivor and former Guantánamo detainee Bisher al-Rawi (via video conference), legal experts, grassroots and human rights activists, and students.
According to the conference organizers, the conference is a step toward their goal of establishing a commission of inquiry to investigate local involvement in rendition. According to Christina Cowger, an NCSTN coordinator, “For more than four years, we’ve been telling state and county officials they needed to look into Aero Contractors’ role in major human rights abuses, but they’ve refused. Elsewhere in the world, there are official inquiries into the support given to the US in transporting captives for torture. Here, apparently it will have to start with a citizens’ inquiry, and we hope that will eventually persuade our government to do the right thing and investigate.”

Leverett (MA) Town Meeting Passes Second US Resolution Welcoming Cleared Detainees

On Saturday, April 24, Leverett (MA) Town Meeting became the second US municipal body to welcome cleared Guantánamo detainees to their town. The resolution it passed, welcoming a few cleared detainees once Congress lifts its current ban, is identical to the resolution that the nearby town of Amherst, MA, passed on November 4, 2009.
According to Leverett residents who spoke in favor of the resolution, stories of detainees that speakers shared at a public forum shortly before the vote cemented their support for the resolution.
NMG congratulates Beth Adams, the Leverett resident who petitioned to place the resolution on the Town Meeting warrant, the committee of supporters in Leverett who leafleted and supported an educational forum, and Pioneer Valley No More Guantánamos, which also lent its support.

What You Can Do


NMG seeks other local groups to tell the stories of detainees. We have several detainees at Guantánamo Bay and Bagram with compelling stories that need to be told to the American people. Please contact us or forward this newsletter to a friend.


No More Guantánamos
P.O. Box 618
Whately, MA 01093
Telephone: 413-665-1150


No More Guantanamos

April 2010 Newsletter

In this issue:

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

Two Detainees' Stories

Guantánamo detainees are easy targets for politicians to vilify, and then to assure their constituents that they are protecting them by keeping Guantánamo open, or by keeping the fictionalized men out of the U.S. The strategy works because the detainees have been silenced and cannot dispute claims that they are “terrorists.” These tactics help explain a recent CNN poll indicating that U.S. support for keeping Guantánamo Bay prison open has risen to 60%.
We can be the detainees' voices, however, and that is what NMG chapters do, so that America’s debate about closing Guantánamo Bay prison can be based upon facts about real people and not fictional characters created to instill fear.
Here are recent stories about two current detainees whom the Pioneer Valley (MA) NMG (PVNMG) chapter chose to champion last spring. It was with these two men in mind that Amherst Town Meeting passed a resolution on November 4, 2009, to welcome a few cleared detainees to their community. Other cities and towns will consider similar resolutions in the next few months. Contact us to form a chapter in your community, and we will help you choose a detainee from those currently at Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba or at Bagram prison in Afghanistan.

Ravil Mingazov organizes food aid for Haiti

Ravil Mingazov, the last Russian detainee at Guantánamo, is in Camp 4, which houses the most compliant detainees. Through their limited TV privileges, the men saw the earthquake devastation in Haiti. They also learned from some of their lawyers that the Marine base at Guantánamo Bay is being used as the staging area for relief shipments to Haiti.
Mingazov has now organized a food drive for the victims. He and other Camp 4 inmates have been collecting their unopened food and drink, which the guards normally discard, and they are asking the guards to help them ship it to Haiti with the other relief supplies. Read the story here.
PVNMG members know Mingazov’s story, and they are not surprised by his humanitarian gesture. While in the Russian army, Mingazov distinguished himself by transforming a local food distribution program in disarray into a model program—the army's best. Later, however, his conversion to Islam while still in the army drew persecution, followed by harassment when he pleaded with superiors to treat him and other Muslim soldiers fairly. After his house was searched and ransacked by the KGB, Mingazov left Russia—with neither a passport nor much money for travel—in search of a safe home in a Muslim country for himself, his wife, and their baby son. 
While Mingazov was en route to Afghanistan and, eventually Pakistan, his fellow Muslims helped him with transportation, housing, money, and food. His gratitude for those donors’ generosity apparently has stayed with him throughout more than eight years of imprisonment in Afghanistan and Guantánamo. For example, Mingazov consistently refused his interrogators' requests to speak against his fellow detainees—in exchange for which his interrogators may have promised him better treatment, as they often did, and then used the detainees' false confessions and incriminations of others to justify keeping many innocent men at Guantánamo for years. Mingazov’s explanation for his refusal to succumb to these requests is recorded in the transcript of his administrative review board hearing on June 13, 2006:
“The detainee refuses to say anything about his fellow detainees because they are fellow Muslims that have given him their last piece of bread even though they were starving.”
PVNMG hopes the Guantánamo guards will help transport the food that Mingazov and his fellow inmates have collected for the Haitians. They also hope Mingazov will be freed soon after his habeas corpus hearing on April 12 and that they will someday be able to meet this gentle and generous man.

Ahmed Belbacha and others lose judicial protection from repatriation

On March 22, the Supreme Court left intact the D.C. Circuit Court’s April 2008 ruling in Kiyemba v. Obama. The lower court ruling, known informally as “Kiyemba II,” took away federal judges’ power to block or even to delay the administration’s transfers of cleared detainees out of Guantánamo Bay prison. For example, Ahmed Belbacha, who fled Islamic extremists who threatened his life and the lives of other government workers in Algeria, no longer has the protection of a judge’s injunction barring his repatriation to the country from which he fled terrorists.
Belbacha moved to the U.K., where he found work cleaning hotel rooms and applied for asylum. After his first application was turned down, he appealed, but during the long wait for his appeal hearing, he lost his job during an economic downturn. Fearing deportation, he bought a six-month round-trip ticket to Pakistan, where he could live more cheaply and study the Koran for free while waiting for his asylum appeal to be heard.
The September 11th attacks derailed Belbacha’s plans when he become one of hundreds of unlucky men who were seized in Pakistan and sold to the U.S. military for advertised bounties, then transported to Guantánamo. In January 2002, an asylum judge rejected Belbacha’s appeal for asylum when he did not appear at his hearing, not knowing that Belbacha was imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay. By 2006, the Bush administration realized that Belbacha was no threat to the U.S. or its allies and cleared him for release in early 2007—back to Algeria, even though the U.S. cannot legally repatriate someone who has a well-documented fear of torture or abuse.
Had Belbacha not been sold for a bounty, he would have returned to the U.K. on his own and may have been granted asylum in 2002. However, because he had no legal status in the U.K. when he was sent by mistake to Guantánamo, he was not on the list of U.K. citizens and legal residents at Guantánamo whom the U.K. allowed to return. He is a man without a country. Now, in addition to his well-documented fears at the hands of Islamic extremists, the Algerian government has sentenced him to 20 years of imprisonment in absentia on trumped up charges, most likely because he has rejected U.S. offers to return him to Algeria.
The Town of Amherst, Massachusetts, welcomes both Belbacha and Mingazov, who cannot safely return to Russia, but Congress’s ban stands in the way.  That ban prevents any former detainees from entering the U.S. except for prosecution. It expires on September 30 of this year, but Congress will likely renew it unless the American people gain a realistic view of the men held at Guantánamo and elsewhere and support justice for them, including allowing some of the men to resettle in the U.S.  If each American were to know the story of one human being still held at Guantánamo, it could cast enough doubt about the common myths and exaggerations about the men imprisoned there to support the prison's closure with justice.

Grassroots News

Pioneer Valley, Massachusetts

Public forum to support a Guantánamo resolution in Leverett, MAOn April 13 at 7:30 p.m., PVNMG, Leverett supporters of a Guantánamo resolution, and the ACLU of Massachusetts will host a public forum at the town’s library to discuss a resolution identical to the resolution passed by Amherst Town Meeting in November. Read the resolution here.
Speakers at the forum: 
  • Buz Eisenberg represents several detainees held at Guantánamo Bay prison and chairs the board of the International Justice Network;
  • Carol Gray teaches law-related topics at Greenfield Community College and has taught at Western New England College School of Law and Hampshire College;
  • William Newman, director of the Western Regional Office of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, has represented Guantánamo Bay detainees.

Northampton resolution proposed. PVNMG’s Northampton members have proposed a similar resolution and have begun meeting with City Council members and with the city’s Human Rights Commission to build support toward its passage. The group and allied organizations such as the Pioneer Valley Coalition Against Secrecy and Torture have hosted forums and video showings about Guantánamo in Northampton for several years.
Documentary Outside the Law shown in NorthamptonOn March 19, the group cosponsored a showing of the documentary Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo directed by Andy Worthington and Polly Nash, in Northampton, with the Northampton Committee to Stop the War in Iraq. Andy could not attend, but he wrote a statement that was read at the showing.

New York, New York 

Witness Against Torture, based in New York City, joined NMG’s New York City chapter in March. At their next meeting, they will choose two detainees—one at Guantánamo and one at Bagram—and will use those detainees’ stories in their ongoing work to close Guantánamo Bay prison with justice.
Witness Against Torture formed in 2005 when 25 Americans went to Guantánamo Bay and attempted to visit the detention facility. After they returned, they began to organize more broadly to shut down Guantanamo, working with interfaith, human rights and activists' organizations. They have organized a series of nonviolent direct actions to expose and decry the administration's lawlessness, build awareness about torture and indefinite detention amongst Americans, and forge human ties with the prisoners at Guantanamo and their families. These campaigns have drawn human rights activists from across the U.S.
For example, in 2009, the group carried out The 100 Days Campaign to Shut Down Guantanamo and End Torture in Washington, DC, which began on President Obama’s inauguration day and ended April 30, 2009. In January 2010, beginning on the prison's eighth anniversary and ending on President Obama's deadline for closing the prison, the group held a 12-day campaign in Washington. Activities included a fast, demonstrations, lobby visits, and public education events.
Witness Against Torture is one of NMG’s colleague organizations, and we are honored to have their leadership and involvement in New York.
To join a chapter of No More Guantánamos or to form a new chapter, click here or contact us.


In the article “Supreme Court’s Dismissal May Further Delay Releases of Cleared Detainees” in our March 2010 newsletter, we incorrectly reported that the Supreme Court, in dismissing the case of Kiyemba v. Obama, had sent the case back to the DC district court. The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, and it is that court, not the district court, that must rule on the case. NMG apologizes for its error.

No More Guantánamos
P.O. Box 618
Whately, MA 01093
Telephone: 413-665-1150
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No More Guantanamos

March 2010 Newsletter

In this issue:

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

Let's Honor the Guantánamo Lawyers

This month, NMG recognizes the hundreds of attorneys who have donated their time to make sure that prisoners at Guantánamo Bay have had legal representation. In the course of their work, they have also spent roughly $50,000 or more per prisoner out-of-pocket on translators, travel, research, legal filings, and the like. NMG hopes that Bagram prisoners may soon be awarded the right to challenge their detentions through the Great Writ. If that happens, several lawyers are prepared to help Bagram prisoners challenge the legality of their detentions.
The Guantánamo lawyers’ hard-won achievements are among the few bright spots in the prison’s eight-year history, ranging from the Supreme Court victories that ultimately granted the men the writ of habeas corpus to the slow but steady stream of habeas judges’ release orders that followed the high court’s 2008 Boumediene ruling. Americans can be thankful not only for the lawyers’ hard work on the prisoners’ behalf, as virtually the only outsiders who are permitted face-to-face visits with the prisoners, but for the compassion they have shown to the prisoners and their families. These lawyers represent us and our country’s laws. They are also our eyes and ears in the prison, and it is largely because of them that we know who the prisoners are and what the prison is like.
Liz Cheney and her organization, Keep America Safe, disagree. They recently produced a YouTube video calling seven former habeas attorneys currently serving in the Department of Justice (DOJ) the “Al Qaeda Seven” and renaming the DOJ the “Department of Jihad.” Several senators, including Iowa Senator Charles Grassley, have questioned the DOJ’s integrity for employing the attorneys. Grassley has suggested that such work may constitute a conflict of interest.
However, neither the senators nor the video have questioned the integrity or patriotism of the military lawyers who represented detainees nor acknowledged that most Guantánamo prisoners have been released without charges by the Bush administration. Nor have the senators commented on the three former habeas counsel who worked in the DOJ under President George W. Bush. Read that story here.
This is not the first time government officials have attacked the habeas lawyers for representing Guantánamo prisoners. In January 2007, Charles “Cully” Stimson, a former Navy JAG officer who was then Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs, called for businesses to boycott law firms who employed lawyers serving as habeas counsel to “the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001.” A firestorm ensued, and Stimson resigned a few weeks later.
Far from being disloyal or unpatriotic, the Guantánamo lawyers do America proud when they make sure that prisoners at Guantánamo are afforded the right to legal counsel. They should not be barred from government service for having done so.
Many years ago, a retired government official, looking back on his long career, called his defense of British soldiers accused of killing five Americans “one of the most gallant, generous, manly, and disinterested actions of my whole life, and one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country.” That proud achievement did not disqualify the lawyer from high office in the federal government. John Adams went on to become the second president of the United States.

News from the Grassroots


Massachusetts News:

On March 19, the Documentary “Outside the Law” Will Be Shown in Northampton
At 7 p.m. on Friday, March 19, at the Media Education Foundation (MEF) in Northampton, the Northampton Committee to Stop the War in Iraq will show Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo, directed by journalist Andy Worthington and Polly Nash. NMG’s Pioneer Valley chapter is cosponsor, and NMG director Nancy Talanian will speak and answer questions from the audience. The documentary features interviews with former detainees Moazzam Begg and Omar Deghayez, plus footage of attorneys Clive Stafford Smith, Tom Wilner, and Gareth Peirce. The showing is free and open to the public.
Northampton Friends approve Guantánamo “minute”
On February 14, the Northampton Friends Meeting approved a minute (the Quakers’ term for a resolution) expressing their desire to help “men wrongly incarcerated in Guantánamo Bay Prison who our government has determined pose no threat to our country.” Read the minute here.
The Northampton Friends’ Justice, Peace and Witness Committee drafted the minute and has sent it to all the Friends Meetings in their Quarter to affirm and send to the New England Yearly Meeting, for the consideration of all Friends Meetings in New England.
Nancy Talanian, NMG’s director, who spoke before the Justice, Peace and Witness Committee in January, called the minute “a positive step toward helping the men wrongly held to regain their freedom and rebuild their lives.”
NMG cosponsors “The Guantánamo Lawyers” programs in Western Massachusetts
On February 22, coeditors, Mark Denbeaux and Jonathan Hafetz and several attorneys for Guantánamo Bay detainees read essays from the book The Guantánamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law at public events held at Western New England College School of Law, Springfield, and Amherst Books, Amherst. Denbeaux and Hafetz were joined by Buz Eisenberg, Ellen Lubell, and William Newman at the programs sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and cosponsored by NMG.

Colorado News:

Fort Collins’ detainee released to Albania
In late February, the Albanian government allowed three cleared Guantánamo detainees to settle in their country. Among the three men was Abdul Rauf al-Qusin, whom NMG’s Colorado chapter, Strength Through Peace of Fort Collins, had chosen to support. Al-Qusin, a Libyan, had been cleared since 2006 but could not return to his home country, where he had served in the army for 6 years, then deserted to escape religious persecution. He emigrated to Afghanistan, where he met and married his Afghan wife, Rahima, who was pregnant at the time of his capture. NMG hopes Mr. Qusin will be able to reunite with his wife and to see their daughter, Khiria, now 8 years old, for the first time. See a photo of Rahima and Khiria here.

In the Courts


Obama Administration Considers Military Commissions to Try Terrorism Suspects

The Obama administration is reconsidering its plan to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other terrorism suspects in civilian courts.  In the face of unyielding political pressure by members of Congress, the administration may try the men via military commission.  Since 2002, only three suspects have been tried and convicted by military commission, and two of the three are now free men.  During the same time period, hundreds of terrorism suspects have been tried and convicted in federal Article III courts.
According to a Washington Post article, administration advisors are recommending the venue change hoping that Congress will then give the administration the funding and authority it needs to close Guantánamo Bay prison and to move its inmates to a facility within the U.S.  We believe it would be wrong to change the trial venue on the basis of politics and would set a dangerous precedent.

Supreme Court’s Dismissal May Further Delay Releases of Cleared Detainees

The Supreme Court’s March 1 decision to dismiss the case of Kiyemba v. Obama, due to the changed circumstances of the Guantánamo Bay Uighurs, affects the resettlement not only of the Uighurs but of other Guantánamo detainees who have also been cleared but who cannot return to their home countries. Had the court heard the case, it would have considered whether Congress had the authority to prevent prisoners’ transfer into the U.S., among other issues.
The Supreme Court vacated (voided) the DC Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturning DC District Court Judge Ricardo Urbina’s October 2008 ruling. Judge Urbina had ordered the government to release the Uighurs into the U.S. However, in February 2009, the court of appeals sided with the Obama administration and ruled that only the executive and legislative branches had the power to make immigration decisions. The attorneys and prisoners now must wait for the appellate court’s next decision.

Background, Kiyemba v. Bush. As early as 2003, the Bush administration knew that most if not all of the Uighur prisoners at Guantánamo were captured and imprisoned in error. However, the men could not be sent home to China without risk of persecution. Five years later, lawyers for the 17 Uighurs still imprisoned presented their habeas corpus petition, Kiyemba v. Bush, before Federal District Court Judge Ricardo Urbina. Supporting the legal team’s case were a Uighur community in Fairfax County, Virginia, that was ready to welcome most of the men, and an interfaith coalition in Tallahassee, Florida, that had prepared a detailed plan to provide for the housing and well-being of three others. The coalition, organized by former Guantánamo habeas attorney Kent Spriggs, is currently a chapter of NMG, and its resettlement plan and related documents are on our website here.

In October 2008, Judge Urbina ruled that unless another country could be found to take the men, then they should be released into the U.S. The administration appealed to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided with the administration. The Uighurs appealed their case (now Kiyemba v. Obama) to the Supreme Court, which had planned to hear the appeal later this month. However, the Obama administration had focused attention on finding other countries for the 17 men in order and urged the Supreme Court to declare the case moot. Since President Obama has taken office, four Uighur prisoners have been resettled in Bermuda, two in Switzerland, and six in Palau (population about 21,000). The five Uighurs who remain at Guantánamo do not want to settle in Palau, where they fear they would not be safe from the Chinese government.

District Court Rules on Wrongful Death Suit

On February 16, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 prevents the family members of Guantánamo prisoners who died in custody from suing the U.S. government or government officials for their mistreatment. The case was brought by the parents of two of the three prisoners who died on June 10, 2006, Yasser Al-Zahrani and Salah Ali Abdullah Ahmed Al-Salami. New evidence may indicate the men’s alleged suicides may have been homicides. 

NMG News

NMG director speaks at Robert M. Cover Retreat, New Hampshire

Nancy Talanian joined attorneys Ben Wizner of the ACLU and Buz Eisenberg in a February 27 workshop on Guantánamo. The workshop was part of the 22nd annual Cover retreat at Camp Sargent in Hancock, NH. The workshop’s participants were public interest law students, professors, and practitioners from the Eastern, Mid-Eastern, and Southern United States. 

No More Guantánamos
P.O. Box 618
Whately, MA 01093
Telephone: 413-665-1150
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No More Guantanamos

February 2010 Newsletter


In this issue: 

  • Guantánamo Closure in an Election Year
  • Grassroots Report: North Carolina Stop Torture Now releases "Scorecard on Torture"; Witness Against Torture holds 12-day vigil and fast for justice in Washington, DC
  • What You Can Do; New Resources: Expanded video section features two former Guantánamo Bay guards; journalist Andy Worthington releases "Bagram: The Annotated Prisoner List" and catalogues four years of his blogs that have brought Guantánamo prisoners to life.
Get involved! Contact us about starting a local coalition or asking your coalition to be part of our nationwide network. You may also join here.
Please share this newsletter with a friend!

Guantánamo Closure in an Election Year

Some politicians exploit public fears and divisions and distort facts.  In an election year, those tactics can shift into overdrive, as we are seeing now, with Republicans in Congress fighting the following Obama administration plans for closing Guantanamo Bay prison: 
  1. New York City as the site for the trials of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) and his alleged co-conspirators
  2. Civilian trials for KSM and Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab
  3. The Obama administration's plan to move prisoners to U.S. prisons
  4. The allocation of funds for closing Guantánamo Bay prison.
But you and your peers spend far more time in your community than politicians do. You and a few friends equipped with key facts and true stories about current detainees can discredit the politically motivated talking points that may be confusing your neighbors.
Here are a few points you may use in your conversations with friends, local civic groups and religious bodies, on radio talk shows, or in opinion editorials and letters to the editor of your local newspaper. Please send us your own arguments for future issues, write a blog for our website, or post your thoughts and links on our Facebook page.
Regarding civilian trials—in New York City or elsewhere--and their cost and safety, here are some remarks made by Federal District Judge John C. Coughenour, who tried the case of Ahmed Ressam, the so-called “Millennium Bomber,” in Los Angeles. Ressam’s target had been the Los Angeles airport. 
In a panel discussion on January 22 titled "One Year and Counting: When and How Will Guantánamo Close?", Judge Coughenour said:
People express concern about how these cases can be tried in federal court in the United States, and they are apparently unaware of the fact that there have been about 195 such trials in the United States in the last seven or eight years. There hasn’t been a single … security incident regarding any of those trials.
Judge Coughenour also was startled by security cost estimates in the range of a billion dollars to try KSM and four co-conspirators. He said:
There was virtually no expenditure of funds by the local police in Los Angeles regarding the Ressam trial, and the marshalls tell me that their expenses could be measured in the thousands of dollars…. The LA police department did virtually nothing to enhance security surrounding the courthouse in Los Angeles, and we had no problems regarding the trial.
Regarding moving prisoners to the U.S. mainland, Judge Coughenour said:
People are so concerned about housing terrorists in the United States, they apparently are unaware of the fact that there are … hundreds of so-called terrorists that are being housed in federal prisons in the United States today. And there has never been a … security-related incident regarding any of those prisoners in the United States. 
Finally, in response to Congress members’ unwillingness to allocate funds for closing Guantánamo Bay prison, you can cite former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s report in 2005 that the Guantánamo facility cost roughly $100 million to construct and upgrade and $95 million a year to operate.
Much more important, however, is the prison’s cost in U.S. soldiers’ lives. According to Matthew Alexander (pseudonym), a former military interrogator in Iraq, in a video response to statements made by former vice president Dick Cheney, “Torture and abuse” at Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib have motivated thousands of suicide bombers, and “literally cost us hundreds if not thousands of American lives in Iraq.”

Grassroots Report

February 1, North Carolina Stop Torture Now (NCSTN) releases “Scorecard on Torture.” On February 1, NCSTN held a press conference in Raleigh to release its Scorecard on Torture: The Obama Administration’s First Year (PDF). Since 2005, NCSTN, NMG’s North Carolina affiliate, has exposed and worked to end so-called “rendition” flights, or torture flights, originating from the Johnston County, NC, headquarters of Aero Contractors.  The corporation's pilots transported German kidnap victim Khaled el-Masri and are also linked to the kidnapping of UK national Binyam Mohamed as well as transporting many prisoners to Guantánamo Bay. The press conference coincided with the Center for Constitutional Rights’ announcement that they are appealing Canadian rendition victim Maher Arar’s complaint against former Attorney General John Ashcroft to the Supreme Court.
NCSTN is advocating for Guantánamo prisoner Saifullah Paracha of Pakistan. While he was on a business trip in Thailand, the CIA kidnapped him using a plane operated by Aero Contractors and transported him to Bagram prison. After more than a year there, he was transferred to Guantánamo Bay, where he remains. Last November, NCSTN held a public forum and fundraiser in Raleigh to offset expenses incurred by the NC-based habeas team of NCSTN's second detainee, Sharifullah. One month later, the Obama administration returned Sharifullah to Afghanistan.
January 11-22, Witness Against Torture Daily Vigil and Fast for Justice, Washington, DC. In January, activists, attorneys and former prisoners around the world gathered to observe a period they had once hoped to mark with celebrations: the 12 days from the Guantánamo prison’s eighth anniversary (Jan. 11th) through President Obama’s self-imposed deadline for closing the prison within one year (Jan. 22nd). Around the country, local groups marked those dates with vigils, documentary film showings, and the publication of opinion editorials and letters in newspapers.
The largest and most visible program took place in Washington, DC, organized by Witness Against Torture (WAT) with support from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), No More Guantánamos, The World Can’t Wait, and many other local, regional and national organizations nationwide. More than 150 people, including several members of NMG’s Pioneer Valley chapter, joined in the 12-day fast and converged on the nation’s capitol to participate in WAT’s multifaceted program. 
On January 11th, prisoners’ habeas counsel joined fasters in orange jumpsuits and organizers for a moving demonstration in front of the White House, followed by a packed news briefing at the National Press Club organized by CCR. Former Guantánamo detainees Omar Deghayes and Lakhtar Boumediene joined (via videoconference and audio conference, respectively) panelists Vincent Warren, CCR’s executive director; Pardiss Kebriaei, staff attorney with CCR’s Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative; Frida Berrigan of WAT; and Stacy Sullivan of Human Rights Watch.
That evening, NMG founder and director Nancy Talanian joined Vincent Warren, Pardiss Kebriaei, and Matthew Daloisio of WAT on a panel moderated by Frida Berrigan at Georgetown University Law Center, followed by a conversation with the audience. Over the next two days, Nancy joined grassroots activists and attorneys on lobby visits to congressional staff, while demonstrators in orange jumpsuits, hands tied behind their backs, wearing prisoners’ names, performed “ghost walks”—taking slow, somber steps through the halls of Congress.
Later vigils targeted John Yoo’s book signing at a Washington, DC, restaurant sponsored by the Federalist Society; the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia; and the Pentagon, Department of Justice, and the Supreme Court, where the vigil focused on allowing cleared detainees into the U.S. On January 21, after Scott Horton’s Harper’s Magazine story shared new evidence contradicting the Pentagon's conclusion that suicides caused three detainees’ simultaneous deaths in 2006, fasters held a memorial for the three men in the Capitol Rotunda.  Forty-two demonstrators were arrested.
For more information and videos, visit the Witness Against Torture website.

What You Can Do; New Resources

Use NMG's Updated Toolkit
Start a local coalition. Use our updated toolkit with links to new materials you can download. If you already belong to a social justice group that would like to collaborate with NMG, contact us and choose a detainee to support. There are several Guantánamo detainees and some Bagram detainees your group may choose from.
As you explore the step-by-step toolkit, you will find links to materials you can download, including flyers, a meeting agenda, public forum program, resolutions, opinion editorials, and sample cards and letters your group might send to detainees.
Expanded Videos Section Features Two Former Guantánamo Guards
In our Videos section, we have added videos featuring two former Guantánamo Bay guards, Christopher Arendt and Brandon Neely, who talk about their experiences. Neely recently traveled to the U.K. to meet and personally apologize to two former detainees, Shafiq Rasul and Ruhel Ahmed, whom he previously guarded. Other videos on our website feature habeas counsel speaking about their detainee clients along with footage of some former detainees.
Andy Worthington Releases "Bagram: The Annotated Prisoner List"
For four years, British author and journalist Andy Worthington has done extensive research and writing on Guantánamo Bay prisoners past and present.  Following the Pentagon’s recent release of the names of Bagram prisoners, to fulfill the ACLU’s request under the Freedom of Information Act, Worthington produced Bagram: The Annotated Prisoner List.  Worthington calls the list both a ‘work in progress’ and a ‘cooperative project.’ Expanding the annotations is a challenging task, since the Pentagon has listed only names without sharing their country of origin and the dates, locations, or reasons for their capture. Worthington asks his readers to share with him any information they have about the men.
Worthington has also recently updated his "definitive prisoner list" and has catalogued four years of blogs he has written about the prisoners at Guantánamo. NMG recommends Worthington's website as an excellent source for prisoners' stories and a site for reliable information on all the prisoners.  The updated list shows which prisoners have already been released and when, and of those still imprisoned, whether they have been charged or cleared.  The list also provides links to more information about the men.  Worthington's work deserves your support.

No More Guantánamos
P.O. Box 618
Whately, MA 01093
Telephone: 413-665-1150
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No More Guantanamos

January 2010 Newsletter


In this issue: 

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

Guantánamo eight years on

After the attempted bombing aboard a U.S. plane on December 25th, politicians from both sides of the aisle lost no time in publicly questioning President Obama’s plan to close Guantánamo Bay prison, to repatriate any of the 90 remaining Yemeni prisoners, or both. Republican Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham, and Susan Collins; Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman; Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein; and several House members are among those who have thus far expressed their discomfort with some or all of the president’s closure plans.
The six Yemeni men whom the Obama administration had repatriated one week before the Christmas attempt will be held in the Yemeni government’s custody “indefinitely.”
Although the Obama administration does not appear to be backing down on its plan to close the prison, grassroots education of the U.S. public and our Congress is needed more than ever to correct misperceptions. Here are a few observations that have been largely missing from the heated debate:
  1. Had the Bush administration properly vetted the men it sent to Guantánamo prior to their imprisonment and used court oversight to determine whom to release, it would not have released Said al-Shiri, a Saudi who is an alleged ringleader of the recent bombing attempt.
  2. We do not know Abdulmutallab’s motivation for allegedly agreeing to bomb the plane bound for Detroit. However, we know from U.S. interrogators that the leading cause, by far, driving young men to fight Americans is the torture that has taken place at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay prisons.
  3. It is beyond the time that the rule of law, not the prisoners’ home addresses, must drive our government’s plans for releasing prisoners. The fates of the six Yemeni men who were released last month and the 90 who remain at Guantánamo should not depend on the problems of the Yemeni government or on alleged terrorist plots they knew nothing about.
The Obama administration now expects to close the prison by 2011, but Congress has already voted against funding the closure and against allowing any of the men to resettle within the United States. Congress’s already weak support for the closure can be expected to weaken even further in the 2010 midterm election year, especially if more attacks against the U.S. are attempted, unless they see the closure as something the American people want.
That is why we see our local chapters’ work to educate their communities as essential. We regularly hear stories from NMG coalition members about how their prisoners’ stories helped them break through with someone who had succumbed to fear-mongering about the men at Guantánamo.  Help us help you bring the story of a Guantánamo or Bagram detainee to your community, so that your neighbors can separate truth from fiction and stop fearing equal justice for all the men.

January Calendar

Thursday, January 7, 2010: Support Bagram Detainees for Habeas Rights, Washington, DC
Where: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 333 Constitution Avenue, NW, at 3rd Street, NW, Washington, DC.
What and When: CUNY Law Students for Justice at Bagram will lead a vigil outside the courthouse that begins at 8:30 am, and they welcome more demonstrators with signs. The hearing begins at 9:30 am in the Ceremonial Courtroom (Room 20). There will be a rally/vigil after the hearing.

More info: and the International Justice Network representing 3 men detained without charges at Bagram prison.
Sunday, January 10, through Friday, January 22, Witness Against Torture Fast to Close Guantánamo, Washington, DC
Sunday 1/10: Screening of Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo followed by discussion
7 pm at St. Stephens Episcopal Church, 1525 Newton Street, NW, at 16th Street, NW
Monday 1/11 (Eighth Anniversary):
11:30 am: Gather at the White House (plaza between the White House and Lafayette Park) for "No More Guantánamos" theater and rally, and the launch of the Fast and Vigil for Justice, which will end on January 22.  Orange jumpsuits and signs will be available for participants.
12:30 pm: Guantánamo Prisoner Procession from the White House to the National Press Club
1:00 pm: Public briefing with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
National Press Club, 529 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC
Human rights activists and lawyers from CCR, Witness Against Torture, and other organizations will hold a public briefing. The briefing will include an update on conditions at Guantánamo and the struggle of detainees for justice, as well as the reading of letters from released detainees addressing the Obama administration's failure to fulfill the terms of his Executive Order to close Guantánamo.
7:00 pm: Eight Years Too Long: Resisting Torture, Inefinite Detention and Abuse at Guantánamo and Beyond: A Grassroots Conversation
Georgetown University Law School, McDonough - Room 207, 600 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC
Speakers will include NMG director Nancy Talanian; Vincent Warren, executive director of CCR; and Pardiss Kebriaie, Staff Attorney with CCR's Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative.
Visit Witness Against Torture's website at for other public events to mark the eighth anniversary through January 22, President Obama's originally announced dateby which Guantanamo prison would be closed.
No More Guantánamos is an endorser of the events, and we invite our subscribers and their networks nationwide to mark the 8th anniversary of Guantanamo with congressional office visits in your district, opinion editorials and letters to the editor, and street protests.

New Resources

Watch Videos is the newest section of the No More Guantánamos website. Our goal is to share stories of current and former Guantánamo prisoners. Among the newest additions are two videos from the NMG Pioneer Valley (Massachusetts) chapter produced and edited by Ernest Urvater. The first is a one-hour excerpt of the group’s November 19th forum, with speeches by Guantánamo attorneys Zachary Katznelson and Gary S. Thompson. The second is a talk by Sabin Willett, lead attorney for the Guantánamo Uighurs.
Other videos you can watch from the website are a recent interview with journalist and historian Andy Worthington and a powerful, 10-minute video by the ACLU called “Justice Denied: Voices from Guantánamo.”
Please send your suggestions of other good videos about Guantánamo and Bagram prisoners and about life at the facilities that are available on the web to us at info (at)

Up-to-date summary of Guantánamo prisoners

Andy Worthington’s website and his book, The Guantánamo Files, are wonderfully comprehensive sources of information on the current and former prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. Worthington has just completed a 2010 update of his “Definitive Prisoner List” in four parts.
There you can determine which of the men are still being held and which men have already been released, with their release dates. Of those still at Guantánamo, use the list to determine which men have been charged or cleared for release. Links within each entry direct you to additional information about the prisoner.

Book Review: The Guantánamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law

Edited by Mark P. Denbeaux and Jonathan Hafetz
For many of us, the speeches and writings of pro-bono habeas counsel for Guantánamo Bay prisoners have been important sources of information about the prison and its inmates. This book of essays by more than 100 lawyers, including military lawyers, provides an unprecedented insiders’ look at the men they represent, the torture and abuse the men have suffered, daily life in the prison, and the numerous barriers our government has placed before the pro-bono lawyers who try to obtain justice for their clients. It is a treasure-trove for everyone who wants to close the prison with justice and a must-read for those who believe Guantánamo is just fine as it is. (New York University Press, 2009.)

No More Guantánamos
P.O. Box 618
Whately, MA 01093
Telephone: 413-665-1150
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Spread the word about NMG's work! Forward this email newsletter to your friends and family and invite them to subscribe.


No More Guantanamos

December 2009 Newsletter

In This Issue:


Please support NMG's work to engage the American people in assuring justice and human rights for U.S. prisoners.  Contribute by check or contact us to donate stock. NMG’s tax-exempt status is pending. Our address is:

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

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

Bringing Justice to All “Guantánamos” is Up to Us

Guantánamo Bay prison and a network of other offshore detention and interrogation centers established to be outside the law are both a black mark on the U.S. and a historic opportunity for the American people to right our country’s course.
Government officials have delayed and denied justice for the imprisoned men by portraying them as monstrous, inhuman, and undeserving of legal protections and other human rights. Eight years of the secrecy, fear- and hate-mongering that have supported legal limbo for the men now threaten President Obama’s planned closure of the prison by blocking, at least temporarily, obvious steps for forward movement—such as resettling in the least some cleared prisoners who cannot safely return home.
No More Guantánamos (NMG) seeks an end to the fear-mongering that delays and denies justice for the men by restoring the men’s humanity, telling the men’s stories in our communities and appealing to Americans’ innate sense of justice and fairness. We are a coalition of concerned U.S. residents, communities, 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. We work to ensure basic human rights for all prisoners, including the legal right to be either charged for crimes and tried in accordance with international law or released, and to find homes for prisoners who cannot return home.
NMG grassroots chapters are already at work in four states, with more expected soon, and our first success story—the overwhelming passage in Amherst, MA, of a resolution to welcome two cleared prisoners to the community—is a model for other communities and proof of the effectiveness of using true stories about individual men at Guantánamo to counteract misinformation and stereotypes. You can help by joining us online today and sharing this newsletter with friends who want to close all of the U.S.’s “Guantánamos” with justice.

News from the Grassroots

Pioneer Valley (Massachusetts) No More Guantánamos (PVNMG) began meeting in May. It chose to work on behalf of two Guantánamo prisoners: Ahmed Belbacha, an Algerian who has been cleared for release, and Ravil Mingazov, a Russian who is still waiting for a judge to hear his habeas corpus petition and, hopefully, clear him. Neither man can safely return to his home country. Local area clergy have supported the group’s goals to welcome a few cleared detainees to the area and have hosted three interfaith clergy meetings on the subject, written and signed a clergy statement, and shared information about the project and the two men with their congregations through sermons and newsletters.
First-in-the-nation resolution passed on November 4! Last August, Ruth Hooke, one of the group’s members worked with other members to draft a resolution for the Town of Amherst’s special town meeting to consider. The resolution calls on Congress to lift its ban preventing cleared detainees from settling in the U.S. and welcomes a few cleared detainees. After gathering the needed signatures to get the article on the warrant, Hooke and other members and supporters drafted an informational brochure for the 240 elected Town Meeting members, aimed at addressing fears and misunderstandings about the resolution and briefly telling the stories of Belbacha and Mingazov. A few weeks before the Town Meeting vote, the brochure convinced Diana Stein, a Select Board member, to vote in favor of recommending that Town Meeting support the resolution.  Speaking at the Select Board meeting, Stein revealed that she had previously planned to recommend against the resolution, because she feared that men who are released from Guantánamo might take vengeance on the community following their long, unjust imprisonment. After reading the men’s stories, she realized she had been misled by propaganda and decided to support the resolution.
Stein’s vote resulted in a majority of two Select Board members supporting the resolution; a third member voted against it, and two members were absent. The small victory generated interest from national and international media leading up to the November 4 vote in Town Meeting, which was overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution. Read the November 5, 2009, Christian Science Monitor story about the vote.
About 100 people attended the group’s public forum Two Lives from Guantánamo: Yes, in My Backyard in Northampton on November 19, which featured two actors portraying prisoners Belbacha and Mingazov in monologues based on the men’s own statements and life stories. The keynote speaker was Zachary Katznelson, who until recently represented Belbacha and more than 50 other Guantánamo Bay prisoners as Legal Director of the British charity Reprieve. Gary Thompson, a member of Mingazov’s legal team at the law firm Reed Smith in Washington, DC, where Thompson is a partner, was the special guest speaker. Videos of the program will be available on the NMG website soon.
Next Steps. The group has begun gathering petition signatures for a Northampton City Council resolution similar to the Amherst resolution and is also circulating a general petition welcoming former prisoners to the residents’ city or town. They have invited the public to sign oversized greeting cards for the two prisoners for community members to sign. Attorneys for the two men will carry the cards to Guantánamo Bay.
North Carolina Stop Torture Now (NCSTN) formed in 2005 “to expose and end North Carolina's central role in the ongoing U.S. torture program.” The group formed when it learned that Aero Contractors headquartered in Smithfield, NC, was operating aircraft used in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. 
The group chose to work on behalf of Pakistani businessman Saifullah Paracha, a victim of extraordinary rendition who was transferred to Guantánamo Bay prison in 2005, and Sharifullah, an Afghan soldier who opposed the Taliban and served in Hamid Karzai’s security detail. The three attorneys on Sharifullah’s three-member legal team practice in North Carolina.
On November 14, the group held a forum in Raleigh, Guantánamo Bay: Beyond the Law’s Reach, that nearly 50 people attended. The forum was also a fundraiser to raise funds for expenses for Sharifullah's legal representation. Two of Sharifullah's attorneys, Frank Goldsmith and Robert M. Elliot, spoke, along with Nancy Talanian, NMG’s national director.
NCSTN is drafting a Human Rights Champion City resolution supporting the human rights of the two prisoners the group is supporting, including the men’s legal right to be either charged and tried in federal court or released.
Tallahassee Interfaith Coalition, Florida, formed in 2008 to support resettling three Guantánamo Uighur prisoners in their city. Their plan detailing their work to organize the necessary resources was instrumental in Judge Ricardo Urbina’s October 2008 ruling on the Kiyemba habeas corpus petition [see “In the Courts” below] that the Bush administration must release the 17 cleared Uighur prisoners to Tallahassee and the nation’s largest community of Uighurs, in Fairfax County, Virginia. Most of the men have been resettled in Bermuda and temporarily in Palau.
The Tallahassee group’s resettlement plans are on the NMG website. The group’s founder, attorney Kent Spriggs, has represented Guantánamo prisoners, and his story about the Tallahassee Uighurs Settlement Project was recently published in the book, The Guantánamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law, edited by Mark P. Denbeaux and Jonathan Hafetz (New York University Press).
Strength Through Peace of Fort Collins, Colorado formed in 2002. As an NMG chapter, the group has chosen to support the plight of Abdul Ra’ouf Abu Al Qassim, a Libyan who has been cleared for release since 2006 but who cannot safely return to Libya.

New NMG Resources

Please visit the NMG website for general information and resources for local coalitions and activists, such as:
  • Toolkits
  • Resolutions
  • Petitions
  • Literature 

In the Courts

Judges Hearing Habeas Petitions Overwhelmingly Rule in Prisoners’ Favor.  In June 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in Boumediene v. Bush that Guantánamo Bay prisoners have the right to appeal their detentions through the writ of Habeas Corpus. Since then, judges in the DC District Court have gradually been processing prisoners’ habeas petitions. In 31 of the 39 cases heard so far (80 percent), judges have determined that the government failed to meet the low evidentiary threshold supporting the men's continued imprisonment and have ordered the administration to release the prisoners.
Al-Maqaleh v. Gates Outcome Will Determine Bagram Prisoners’ Right to Appeal. Last April, Judge John Bates ruled that the Supreme Court’s Boumediene ruling upholding Guantánamo prisoners’ right to appeal their detentions also applied to certain prisoners held at Bagram air base in Afghanistan. Specifically, Judge Bates extended habeas to non-Afghan prisoners who were captured outside Afghanistan and transferred to Bagram. The Obama administration appealed the judge’s ruling, and the DC Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on January 7,  2010. 
Help spread the word about this important case. You can find more information about it, including briefs, on the International Justice Network’s website.
Supreme Court to hear Kiyemba v. Obama; Ruling Expected in June 2010. In October 2008, the Bush administration appealed Judge Ricardo Urbina’s DC District Court ruling ordering the release into the U.S. of 17 Uighur prisoners who had been cleared but who could not return to China. The Bush administration’s attempts to find other countries willing to take the men had failed. President Obama renewed the Bush administration’s appeal, and on February 18, 2009, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Judge Urbina’s ruling, claiming that only the executive and legislative branches have the power to rule on immigration matters. The Uighurs appealed to the Supreme Court, and in October of this year, the Court agreed to hear the case. Oral arguments are expected to be heard in February or March of 2010. The case is especially significant for men who have been cleared but who cannot safely be returned to their home countries, whom no third country has agreed to accept, and who cannot be resettled in the U.S. due to Congress’s blanket ban.

NMG News

Board: NMG incorporated last July and elected the following board members: Bruce Miller, President; Jeanne Herrick-Stare, Treasurer; Nancy Talanian, Secretary; and Imran Siddiqui.
Advisory Board: NMG is pleased to announce the following advisory board members who support the organization’s work: Buz Eisenberg, Tina Monshipour Foster, Shayana Kadidal, Kate Martin, Robert Meeropol, Hope Metcalf, William Newman, Christopher Pyle, Stephen Rohde, Clive Stafford Smith, and Andy Worthington.
Colleague Organizations: The following national and international organizations support and collaborate with NMG: Center for Constitutional Rights, International Justice Network, Reprieve, and September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. NMG welcomes other organizations to join us.
No More Guantánamos
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