Sunday, October 28, 2007

Urgent: An Innocent Man is Dying

You can help save an innocent man's life.

His Guantanamo detainee ID number is 654. His first Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) unanimously concluded there was no evidence he was ever an "enemy combatant", and yet he has languished in isolation and sensory deprivation for 5 years in notorious Camp 6 at Guantanamo Prison in a steel windowless room, with no charges ever brought against him.

Forty-five year old Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi was diagnosed with hepatitis B and tuberculosis over a year ago. Amnesty International has issued a worldwide alert, as his condition has deteriorated significantly, and the prison authorities refuse to allow treatment. Please read the following and consider contacting the authorities indicated. A man's life is at stake... and a country's soul.

From the AI alert:

The Commander of the Guantánamo hospital and Joint-Task Force surgeon has previously stated that Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi does not want to be treated for his illnesses. However his lawyers have asserted that neither he nor they were informed of the diagnosis until September 2006 and that he has since requested treatment but has received none....

In February 2007, during her first visit to Guantánamo since Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi had been transferred to Camp 6, his lawyer stated that he “…was stooping low to the floor and huddled against the wall when I entered. His arms were wrapped around his body as he tried to warm himself from the chill he has had for over two months, and his feet were shackled to the floor. He was shivering, his teeth were clenched and he would not look at me".... he also stated that he was vomiting several times a day, had frequent headaches, itchy skin, pain in his back, abdomen, frequent nosebleeds and pain in his gums.... He is reported to have begun talking to himself and has difficulty focussing or concentrating in conversation with his lawyer.

Is your blood boiling yet? I know mine is. But it gets worse. And remember, this is being done in YOUR name. This is your country at work. While politicians and pundits politely debate the pros and cons of human rights and war, real human beings are being subjected to hells beyond your imaginings.

This is what al-Ghizzawi looked like to another Gitmo detainee, who in a handwritten note gave the outside world the first information about the Libyan prisoner in early 2006:

“He is in very poor health, which deteriorates day after day (details to be discussed with u in person). He has a family that is in desperate need of him.”

Mr. al-Ghizzawi sent messages through other detainees who had managed to secure legal counsel that he wanted a lawyer. He thought it might help him get medical attention. He finally secured a pro bono attorney last year.

H. Candace Gorman is a civil rights attorney in Chicago. A sole practitioner, she has only a few assistants to help her. She works on the case with Center for Constitutional Rights, which provides free legal representation for the Guantanamo prisoners. According to a recent article by Gorman over at Huffington Post:

During the week of September 24th I went to visit my client Mr. Al-Ghizzawi at Guantanamo again. It is clear to me that our visits are nearing the end... Mr. Al-Ghizzawi won't be with the living much longer. Mr. Al-Ghizzawi knows his days are limited, not only can he barely walk but he sat at our meeting doubled over in pain. For the first time in our two year attorney-client relationship Mr. Al-Ghizzawi shared with me pictures of his little girl... she is now almost six years old and he has not seen her since she was a few months old. She is a beautiful little girl with big green eyes and a mischievous grin. Mr. Al-Ghizzawi lamented the fact that he will never see his little girl again and that his little girl will not even have a picture of him to remember her father by.

In another article, published at Michael Moore's website, Ms. Gorman described the run-around she has received from U.S. prison and judicial authorities. It gives a startling glimpse into the jabberwocky world of U.S. jurisprudence in the age of Bush:

The military gave [al-Ghizzawi] physicals over the years, but no one at Guantánamo would tell him what was wrong with him. In fact, they told Mr. Al-Ghizzawi that there was nothing wrong with his health.

I asked the judge to order the military to turn over Mr. Al-Ghizzawi's medical records to me. The judge refused because he said I could not show what “irreparable harm” would befall Mr. Al-Ghizzawi in not getting the records. (Even Joseph Heller would have cringed at this one!) Of course the judge is correct; I cannot show irreparable harm in not getting the records because I cannot show irreparable harm until I have the records...

Elsewhere, al-Ghizzawi's attorney has explained how he was picked up in Afghanistan, not by U.S forces, but armed men after the United States dropped thousands of leaflets over that war-ravaged country promising huge bounties for captured “terrorists” and “murderers.” Mr. Al-Ghizzawi was then turned over to the Northern Alliance, who in turn handed him over to the Americans.
The story is picked up from here from the text of the AI alert:

In November 2004, a Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) panel determined unanimously that Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi was not an ‘enemy combatant’ due to “the paucity and weakness of the information provided”. However, a second panel, convened just two months later without the detainee’s presence or knowledge, concluded that he was an ‘enemy combatant’.

Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi was 39 years old when he was captured in Afghanistan by the Northern Alliance forces towards the end of 2001. He was sold to US forces and later transferred to Guantánamo via US-run detention centres in Afghanistan. He had been living in Afghanistan since 1989 and is married to an Afghan woman.

I wish to add that the second tribunal determined al-Ghizzawi's "enemy combatant" status on -- well, what do you know? -- "secret evidence". The Washington Post published an expose on these bogus "combatant" rulings, citing whistleblower Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Abraham, "who helped review government intelligence about detainees in 2004 and 2005 and served on a Combatant Status Review Tribunal", reportedly the one that reviewed al-Ghizzawi's case! According to WP, Lt. Col. Abraham

said in a sworn affidavit that the process of reviewing their cases was "fundamentally flawed" and that the results were influenced by pressure from superiors rather than based on concrete evidence.

Help Save Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi!

I think I've given enough information and links to demonstrate that an awful crime is being perpetrated by the U.S. government, against all international treaties and basic human decency. Here's what you can do:

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English or your own language:
- expressing your serious concern that Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi may not be receiving appropriate medical care for his illnesses;
- urging that Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi be given immediate access to a doctor, and to specialist medical attention if necessary as stipulated in the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, 22 (2), so that he can be properly diagnosed and provided with all the necessary treatment he may require;
- urging that independent medical experts be allowed to visit him regularly in Guantánamo to assess his medical condition and treatment requirements;
- urging that he be removed from Camp 6 immediately and transferred to facilities which will not be further detrimental to his physical and psychological health;
- stating that he should be allowed contact with his family through regular mail, with opportunities for phone calls and visits;
- calling for the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay to be closed and for the detainees held there to be released unless they are to be promptly charged with recognizable criminal offences and brought to trial in ordinary civilian courts in full accordance with international standards, without recourse to the death penalty.

Rear Adm. Mark H. Buzby, Commander Joint Task Force Guantánamo
Department of Defense , Joint Task Force Guantánamo, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, APO AE 09360
Fax: +1 305 437 1241
Salutation: Dear Rear Admiral

J. Alan Liotta, Principal Director, Office of Detainee Affairs
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, 2900 Defense Pentagon, Washington DC 20301-2900, USA
Email via:
Salutation: Dear Director

Member of US Congress
Rep. Jan Schakowsky, 1027 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515, USA
Fax: + 1 202 226 6890
[I'm adding email link for Rep. Schakowsky, as snail mail to Congress post-anthrax now takes a long time.]

and to diplomatic representatives of USA accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 5 December 2007.

Over 300 detainees remain imprisoned at Guantanamo, most of them in conditions of isolation and without charges filed. Their cells have no access to natural light or air. They can only leave their cells heavily shackled. They have almost no human contact. Many still have no legal representation. All are held indefinitely. And, as the al-Ghizzawi case demonstrates, access to medical care is definitely not guaranteed. Prisoners have committed suicide. Hunger strikers have been force-fed.

We can't help all of these men perhaps right now, but we have a chance to save one man's life. Please contact the officials above. And spread this article or the information and links in it, far and wide. Time is growing very short for Abdul Al-Ghizzawi. It is also growing short for our civilization.

Close Guanatanmo Now! End the Iraq Occupation! Impeach Bush and Cheney!

Updated around 7:10 pm Sunday evening PST:

I have just become aware that H. Candace Gordon had an article published at In These Times on October 16. Interested readers should go read it: Suicide and Spin Doctors. From the article:

Now that the U.S. military has “cleared” my notes, I can tell you about my July meeting....

Al-Ghizzawi was visibly shaken when I entered the meeting room and he immediately told me of his despair over the May death of a fellow inmate, a young Saudi man named Abdel Rahman Al Amri. Al-Ghizzawi knew that Amri had been suffering from Hepatitis B and tuberculosis, the same two conditions from which he himself suffers. Like al-Ghizzawi, Amri had not been treated for his illnesses. Al-Ghizzawi, now so sick he can barely walk, told me that Amri, too, had been ill and then, suddenly, he was dead.

Apparently, in a fashion almost too grisly to report, the military has declared Amri's death an "apparent suicide". Meanwhile, Goman writes of al-Ghizzawi:

Al-Ghizzawi told me in July that he now finds himself talking out loud even though no one is there to talk to. We both know he is in dangerous territory. We talked about ways to help fight the mental deterioration, such as trying to read, exercising his body or focusing on his wife and daughter.... He had hope, though mingled with fear for the future.....

When I left our September meeting a few days ago, al-Ghizzawi was doubled over in pain and gagging on his own phlegm.... I feared al-Ghizzawi may suffer a cruel, solitary death. I promised him the only things I could: that his death will not go unnoticed and that I will not let him be listed as an apparent suicide.

1 comment:

Linda G. Richard said...

Abdel Al-Ghizzawi. Below is a post that H. Candace Gorman, Al- Ghizzawi's attorney posted on her blog. In addition she asked that we send as many letters and faxes as possible.

So for the second time today - I plead with you to go to the bottom - there is a form letter - please edit it as needed - and please please please - no matter what - please send and or fax the letters! This has to happen ASAP! Candace is going to see Abdel on Monday - she would love to tell him that people acted! Please send me a reply letting me know you've taken action - so that I can pass it on to her!

Don't let him die alone. He is no "enemy combatant". Please see the profile of him at if you want more information. Below is Candaces' post, below that is the letter. (If you are not a US Citizen - please edit it to fit your country)

Many of you have asked me for an update after that horrible news that Al-Ghizzawi was told by a doctor at the base that he has AIDS. I had a Reply due today in the District Court in DC and I have spent the week focusing on that document. It is now filed and I am waiting for "clearance" by the government before I can post it.

Immediately after I received Al-Ghizzawi's letter I sent an email to the government attorney who refused to tell me whether or not the report was correct. I filed with the Supreme Court but Chief Justice Roberts denied my emergency motion... I still had no word from the Government on the AIDS report... I filed back in the District Court
(where this battle for medical treatment began more than 18 months ago). District Court Judge Bates ordered the government to respond by February 15th and asked them to update the Court on Al-Ghizzawi's medical condition. Finally in a typically snide response the government admitted that Al-Ghizzawi does not in fact have AIDS (the fact that the governmen waited this long to admit the truth... if it is the truth... only convinces me that this was a psychological game being played on Al-Ghizzawi... ) but anyway if it is true the good news is that Al-Ghizzawi does not have AIDS.

I say "if it is true" because what came out in the governments response is the fact that they have admitted in this same response that they have known for 18 months that Al-Ghizzawi's liver condition
(from hepatitis B) is worsening... perhaps dramatically (they will never say anything directly) and they have not treated him... The affidavit makes clear that the medical staff at guantanamo does not have a clue how to diagnose or treat hepatitis and liver damage.... at the cost of Al-Ghizzawi's health.

Soon I will be able to post my response and even though much of it is legalize and many of you are not lawyers.... you can figure it out.

And now it is time for Judge Bates to understand that many people are concerned with Al-Ghizzawi's health. Will you write him?

Please keep your letters polite and to the point... but let him know that this is not just about one person.... but about the dignity of a nation of people who care about what is being done in our name... and how this reflects on our nation as a whole... And if you are so inclined to write please do it soon... all of the documents are in this very capable judge's hands as of right now.... and I am off on Monday to visit with Al-Ghizzawi for for two days and how nice it would be to tell him that there was a groundswell of support for his cause by the people of the world.

The Honorable John D. Bates United States District Court Judge U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia E. Barrett Prettyman U. S. Courthouse
333 Constitution Avenue, Northwest Washington, DC 20001

H. Candace Gorman
Interested in the Guantanamo Litigation?
See my blog at:


The Honorable John D. Bates
United States District Court Judge
U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia
E. Barrett Prettyman U. S. Courthouse
333 Constitution Avenue, Northwest
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 354-3433 fax)

Honorable John Bates;

I am writing to you today about Abdel Al-Ghizzawi, a detainee who has been in Guantanamo Bay detention facility for over five years. Al- Ghizzawi was sold to U. S. Troops as part of a bounty, he is not a "high value" detainee. Al-Ghizzawi was one of the "no hearings hearings" detainees who had new Tribunals convened in his absence when the initial Tribunals determined that he should never have been determined to have been an enemy combatant. Later in 2005 a new tribunal was conducted that declared him an enemy combatant. In fact, Abdel Al-Ghizzawi never fought with the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, or anyone else.

Abdel Al-Ghizzawi has Hepatitis B as well as Tuberculosis. His condition is worsening, and is very grave. On January 28 2008 his attorney H. Candace Gorman filed an emergency motion with the Supreme Court asking the US military to provide urgent medical treatment to Abdel Al-Ghizzawi, as well as access to his medical records. Chief Justice John Roberts denied the motion.

This is shameful. Our country is supposed to be run by us - the citizens of these United States, we are supposed to be the Government. However, in the past few years we have had very little say in what goes on, and none in how this country treats it's POWs or detainees. This needs to change. We care what's done in our name. Our country, while once a beacon of human rights is now one of the worlds worst offenders.

I ask you to help Abdel Al-Ghizzawi by providing him with the medical care he needs so desperately. I urge you to provide his attorney, H Candace Gorman access to his medical records so that she can assure that he gets the treatment that he needs for his condition.

The world is watching. Our reputation has been sullied enough. Please act in the best interest of everyone. Give us back our good conscience.





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