Friday, June 20, 2008

senators letter


H. Candace Gorman FAX 888.826.6947

June 20, 2008

Dear Senators Durbin and Obama,

Right now it looks like you both have decided to sit out the FISA fight. That is unfortunate.

I am an attorney who took on the honorable chore of representing two men at Guantanamo, pro bono. My clients are still in that hell hole.

As a result of my representation of these men I have been subjected to government surveillance of my phone (and probably emails), both at my office and at home. This surveillance has made it impossible for me to continue to represent other individuals because I cannot guanantee them confidentiality. In fact, I can assure them that there will be no confidentiality because the government is listening in.

Except for my Guantanamo clients I have no clients right now. It means that I am spending my savings to represent these men and I have no income coming in.

I have a lawsuit pending regarding this illegal surveillance. If this so called “compromise” bill gets passed my lawsuit will be dismissed and I will be forced to give up my civil rights law practice for the long run.

If you sit out this FISA fight today. I will sit out election day.

Best regards,

H. Candace Gorman

H. Candace Gorman

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bring Binyam Back to Britain

As George Bush visits London, Reprieve tells Bush and Brown: Bring Binyam Back to Britain

Where: Trafalgar Square, in front of the National Gallery
When: 3 pm, Sunday 15 June
Who: Reprieve Director Clive Stafford Smith, former Guantánamo prisoners, Barney the Dinosaur and other special guests

On Sunday 15 June, US President George W. Bush is visiting London as part of his valedictory world tour, and will be having tea with the Queen and dinner with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Reprieve, the legal action charity that represents over 30 Guantánamo prisoners, is using this opportunity to highlight the suffering of Binyam Mohamed, the London resident who remains in Guantánamo Bay. The US military has announced that it wants to put him through its discredited military commission process, and a final decision will be made in the next two weeks. The commission system is so corrupt that Col. Morris Davis recently quit as the chief military prosecutor, because of the system’s many flaws, one being that evidence derived from torture was going to be used against the prisoners.

Nothing could be more true of Binyam, who was taken to Morocco where his genitals were razor-bladed for 18 months. After that he was rendered to more abuse in the CIA-run “Dark Prison” in Kabul, where he was tortured psychologically, hung up and subjected to incredibly loud music for 20 days at a time. He has been imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay since September 2004.

The timing of President Bush’s visit to London is fortuitous but only if we can make sure that he gets the message. We are meeting at 3 pm outside the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square and are working towards a finale outside the Southbank Centre, where Massive Attack are hosting a series of Reprieve events as part of Meltdown 2008, at 4.30pm.

Throughout this initiative, Reprieve will dramatize the torture-by-music that Binyam and other prisoners have suffered. Barney the Purple Dinosaur will be making a personal appearance, as the theme tune to this popular children’s show has been one of the US torturers’ favourite pieces of torture music. We are also hoping to involve other creative “cartoon characters”: Katy the Kangaroo Court, and even Roger the Razor Blade. Cosmetics firm Lush, who have been supporting the work of Reprieve, have kindly agreed to bring along their massive “Fair Trial My Arse” orange underpants, to highlight the nature of the unjust process that Binyam is facing.

You don’t have to sing the Barney theme song with us (although you’d be welcome to!). Or you can dress up in any outfit you think dramatises Binyam’s torture over the past six years. We are also very keen for credible spokespeople to stand up for Binyam and demand that Gordon Brown place his immediate repatriation to Britain on the summit agenda.

Please join us!

-- ENDS --

For further information, please contact Alex Grace, Reprieve’s Events Producer, on 020 7251 3692 or Andy Worthington at Reprieve’s Press Office on 020 7427 1099.
Emails – Alex:, Andy:

Friday, June 6, 2008


Roger Fitch Esq • June 2, 2008

Our Man in Washington

Guantánamo unravelling … Bush admin sacks judge mid-trial for being too fair and independent … Canadian Supreme Court finds Gitmo process illegal … Administration planning election year war crimes spectacular … CIA station chief in Milan still on the run

imageThe end of May saw a sensational development in the Guantánamo saga.

The Bush Regime did what even Charles Stuart never attempted: it sacked a judge mid-trial for showing fairness and independence and a disinclination to admit evidence derived from torture – the very thing the White House wants.

The Pentagon claimed that Omar Khadr’s Judge, Peter Brownback, was planning to retire, yet the Toronto Globe and Mail wondered, “why the judge would retire in the middle of an ongoing military tribunal case”.

Everyone seemed to forget that s.949b of the Military Commissions Act forbids “unlawfully influencing” a military judge.

The judge’s crime? Ruling for the defence in many of the 50 motions filed so far.

Another Gitmo judge, Keith Allred, must now be considering his position. He postponed Salim Hamdan’s military commission until after the Supreme Court has announced its decision in Boumediene because waiting for that decision “avoids the potential embarrassment, waste of resources, and prejudice to the accused that would accompany an adverse decision mid-trial”.

Brownback and Allred have been on the nose with the government since last year, when each refused to certify “enemy combatants” as “unlawful” on the Pentagon’s mere say-so.

imageAs David Glazier reports, these dreadful delays in commission justice have the Wall Street Journal terribly upset.

It will all be added grist to the Congressional mill, where a House subcommittee has been holding hearings on Guantánamo with testimony from prominent Gitmo defence lawyers Clive Stafford Smith and Sabin Willett (pic) and even an abductee, Murat Kurnaz.

Another person testifying was Glenn Sulmasy, a stalking horse for the Bush adminstration’s planned national security courts, likely to be introduced in Congress if the government loses the Boumediene-Al Odah case.

National security courts are opposed by constitutional scholars including former federal prosecutors, but the idea has attracted the support of former Office of Legal Counsel head Jack Goldsmith and former Hamdan counsel Neil Katyal.

* * *

As expected, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled in Omar Khadr’s favour in a high-profile May decision.

The court found the Gitmo process was illegal, basing its decision squarely on the opinions of the US Supreme Court in Rasul and Hamdan.

Aziz Huq thinks this may influence the US Supreme Court in its forthcoming Boumediene decision.

The Canadians had previously cautioned their diplomats that the US uses torture, and a Canadian judge had refused to return refugees to the US, finding that the US is a country that flouts treaties prohibiting refoulement to torture and mistreatment.

Even as the Guantánamo endgame nears, new commission defendants continue to be booked, with some prisoners delivered to court bruised.

Joanne Mariner has prepared a “cheat sheet” on the military commissions, now slightly out of date.

imageThe main arraignment, for the Guantánamo Six, is set for June 6. The Bush administration is planning an election year spectacular, culminating in a September trial of the Six (now Five) for the so-called war crimes of attacking the WTC and Pentagon, with special telecasts for families of the 9/11 victims.

The 9/11 lawyers want to dismiss for unlawful influence, with evidence from ex-Chief Prosecutor Moe Davis (pic).

Meanwhile, Davis says supporting the defence cost him a medal.

A new group of commission defendants known as “the Faisalabad Three” has been charged with bomb-making in Pakistan, which (like New York) was never a theatre of war. Each is getting the “conspiracy” and “material support” treatment; neither charge being a crime under the law of war.

The same three men were charged in the 2004 military commissions struck down by the Supreme Court.

This leaves only two of Bush’s original designees not yet redesignated. Binyam Mohamed, one of the last two, expects to be charged any day.

* * *

imageMore military commission charges that have no connection with the war in Afghanistan were recently sworn against Ahmed Ghailani (pic).

Ghailani is already under indictment in New York for the same acts. Why wasn’t he handed over to the courts in New York when he was apprehended by the US?

Slate lawyer-blogger Phillip Carter sees a problem in trying someone for “war crimes” invented in 2006, where the acts involved occurred in 1998.

The Los Angeles Times and Miami Herald were among the few media to spot the apparent obstruction of justice by the CIA in delivering to the Pentagon for a military trial someone who was wanted in New York on a valid warrant for murder.

But judicial proceedings don’t suit the Bush White House. Clearly, Ghailani was withheld from the New York court’s jurisdiction so he could be coercively interrogated, and then “tried” in the only place where someone who has been coerced can be tried: a Bush Court created by the Military Commissions Act 2006.

At Guantánamo Mr Ghailani will not have the rights he would have had in New York, and there will be no problem of the Constitution and Bill of Rights being applied.

The government hopes to introduce tainted evidence, and in any case, media coverage will be filtered by the Pentagon.

Gone too is the danger of an independent judge and jury, and most importantly, there is no recourse to the independent-minded judges of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Naturally, none of the charges against Ghailani is a crime known to the law of war. Yet even the Military Commissions Act requires that offences be “war crimes … triable by military commissions”, and the Hamdan plurality ruled that, to constitute a valid war crime, the offence has to have occurred after September 11, 2001, and in a theatre of war: no war, no war crime.

* * *

The ACLU recently discovered that the CIA runs recruiting ads next to every New York Times Gitmo story.

That’s not surprising. The agency badly needs new agents, as existing “operatives” are going on trial en masse (as well as in absentia) overseas.

At the moment, CIA agents are being tried in Italy for kidnapping an Egyptian off the streets of Milan.

One named defendant who faithfully followed John Yoo’s advice on torture abductions, sorry, extraordinary renditions, was the CIA station chief in Milan, Robert Lady.

He’s been on the run, however, since surfacing long enough to give Congressional Quarterly this heartbreaking interview about his plight in 2007.

The worst of it is, he lost his retirement villa in Italy. And he may have mislaid his wife.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Taking a stand

Convicted Criminal Considers the Cause, the Crime, and the Court

By Malachy Kilbride

Last week, as prisoners continued to languish in the infamous and illegally-run US concentration camp of Guantanamo, I was fortunate to join 34 fellow criminals in Washington DC at the District of Columbia Superior Court as our case, for an act of peaceful civil resistance, was heard by a judge and prosecuted by one of America's officers of the court. Our court experience was far more than our unfortunate brothers in Guantanamo have received after 6 years in their open-ended confinement. Approximately 270 Guantanamo prisoners are held in captivity without charges, Habeas Corpus rights denied, access to civil courts denied, living in conditions of abuse, torture, and with little hope for life or liberty. Some have committed suicide because of their desperate situation.

On January 11, 2008 hundreds of people solemnly processed from The National Mall to The United States Supreme Court marking the 6th year of the prison camp to redress our grievances against the US Government and its use of abusive treatment, torture, and the ending of Habeas Corpus rights for the Guantanamo prisoners. Out of the hundreds who were a part of this assembly, outside and inside the US Supreme Court, I was one of 80 people who ended up being arrested for our nonviolent witness, kneeling and praying, calling for the closing of the Guantanamo detention camp. Those of us who were arrested for our peaceful justice-advocacy for the prisoners were charged with "unlawful free speech" and a second charge, for those inside, of "causing a harangue". The "harangue" charge was eventually dropped.

After our arrest we were held for over 30 hours in a chain of custody from the US Supreme Court Police to the DC Metropolitan Police, and finally in holding cells below the courtroom by the US Marshals. We chose not to have any identification such as drivers' licenses and instead told the police that we were there in the name of a specific Guantanamo prisoner. The Guantanamo prisoner I represented is Sahr Fawaz Ahmad. Many of us had been held on January 11 in handcuffs for over 8 hours and some not given any food or water until the next day. The day after our arrest, while still in custody, the US Marshals refused to give us water. Our lawyer had to get the arraignment judge to order the marshals to give us water. On January 12 we were all arraigned late in the day and early evening. We were then free to go until we would be in court to defend ourselves against the charges. Again, this is more than those in Guantanamo have received even after 6 long years of imprisonment without charge or conviction.

On May 27, 2008 we gathered for our trial in the DC Superior Court. As we went to trial our numbers had decreased from 80 initially arrested to 34 prepared for trial. Several of the 80 had made agreements with the government not to get arrested for 6 months and having their records cleared if they maintained this agreement. Others had their charges dropped for no apparent reason just before our trial. Our judge was Wendell P. Gardner Jr. and our US Government prosecutor was Magdelena Acevado. We would defend ourselves Pro Se meaning we would represent ourselves with the assistance of attorney-advisers Mark Goldstone and Anne Wilcox.

By going Pro Se we have the chance to introduce our message about the Guantanamo prisoners and what motivated us to take such a dramatic action at The US Supreme Court.

The trial lasted three days ending late on Thursday May 29. During our trial almost half of my fellow co-defendants wore orange jumpsuits and remained silent and would not take an active role in their defense. They did this to be in solidarity with the prisoners of Guantanamo and to illustrate the lack of justice the prisoners have experienced while being held in the US occupied portion of Cuba. The rest of us took on the various roles such as giving opening statements, cross examination of government witnesses, examination of defense witnesses, motion for judgment of acquittal, and closing statements in our defense. We all identified ourselves in court with our own names in addition to naming the Guantanamo prisoner we represented. In naming a Guantanamo prisoner we were in some small symbolic way getting these illegally held captives into the court record, again this is much more than what they have received so far.

During the trial several of my codefendants made deeply moving and passionate statements concerning the rights of the prisoners, about the abuse and torture we know is inflicted upon them, the importance of Habeas Corpus, human rights, and international law. They spoke eloquently about why we were called by conscience and the need to follow a higher law that is above statutes that govern behavior in and around a federal building. We all acted peacefully at the US Supreme Court on January 11, 2008 and firmly believe that we were there to uphold the law.

During the trial the government failed to provide any evidence of our individual guilt. We were identified in court with post-arrest photos by police witnesses. A video depicting some of what happened outside The US Supreme Court was presented without a single police officer identifying any one of us as an individual who committed a crime. Not one person who was inside on that day was ever identified by a police witness as committing any crime. One officer testified that the first time he saw me was on an elevator handcuffed being escorted by another officer after my arrest. Nevertheless we were all found guilty by the judge. We were found guilty by the use of post-arrest photos and guilt by association and not as individuals who each committed a crime. This is significant but not the most important thing for us.

We did what we did and went to trial because of the prisoners of Guantanamo. We were there for them. We were there to speak out for those who cannot. We were there to uphold international law, our constitution, our Bill of Rights, The Geneva Conventions, for justice and humanity. Our government refuses to allow the Guantanamo prisoners into our civil courts to be fairly tried. Instead our government has set up military tribunals where hearsay evidence is permitted, information obtained from those tortured is admitted as evidence, and the military judge picks the defense, prosecution, and jury. This is not justice. We took the names of the prisoners into court with us written on our hearts and minds and we spoke their names. We were subsequently sentenced by Judge Gardiner on May 30.

We now all face one year of probation and a one year order to stay away from the US Supreme Court building, grounds, and the surrounding sidewalk. Some of us have fines of $50 and a few have, including myself, a $100 fine. Some refused to accept probation knowing they may be called by conscience, to witness for justice and peace, to risk arrest again. These people, five of them, received immediate jail time of 10 days and an additional one to 15 days. Another defendant, a retired school teacher in her 70's, received 5 days, and I was one of three who received 1 day in jail in addition 29 days in jail if we get arrested within the year. Again, this is nothing compared to what our brothers in Guantanamo face every day.

Our judge gave us these punishments because he said he wants us to learn a lesson. But, in reality the government is clamping down on peaceful dissent by jailing us and threatening us with more jail if we continue our nonviolent resistance to injustice. This is the lesson the government wants nonviolent dissenters to learn. The lesson the government needs to learn, however, is that this won't work with us. We will be back for our brothers in Guantanamo and the estimated 27,000 other prisoners in secret black sites around the world where torture is practiced.

As long as the Guantanamo concentration camp is open and in operation none of us is truly free. As long as the likes of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Gonzalez, and Yoo remain at large ordering, advocating, and approving of torture none of us is safe. As long as the bipartisan US Congress fails to restore Habeas Corpus and close Guantanamo we have lost our republic and tyranny will rule us. We all must work to close this place and bring justice to those held captive. If this means risking arrest for nonviolent symbolic actions of peaceful civil resistance and then enduring a time of incarceration then this must be done for the sake of the higher laws of justice and the leadings of our individual consciences. I urge all people of goodwill to join us in this struggle for justice.

For more information on the campaign to close Guantanamo, our trial, and the work to end torture go to: