Wednesday, September 22, 2010

ACLU to Fight for Release of "Enemy Combatant" Tribunals Transcripts; Fayiz al-Kandari Loses Habeas Appeal

From a new ACLU press release:
ACLU In Federal Appeals Court Thursday To Argue For Release Of Guantánamo Detainee Statements

Tribunal Transcripts Would Provide Critical Testimony About Bush Torture Program

WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union will be in court Thursday to argue that the government should release transcripts in which 14 prisoners now held at Guantánamo Bay describe abuse and torture suffered in CIA custody.

The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit to obtain uncensored transcripts from Combatant Status Review Tribunals used to determine if Guantánamo detainees qualify as "enemy combatants." In October, a federal court ruled that the government can continue to suppress the detainees' testimony about the abuse they suffered in CIA custody. The ACLU is asking the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reverse that decision.

More information about the case is available online at:

Oral arguments in American Civil Liberties Union v. DOD, a FOIA lawsuit seeking the release of transcripts from Guantánamo Combatant Status Review Tribunals.

Ben Wizner of the ACLU National Security Project will argue the case. Other attorneys on the case are Jameel Jaffer, ACLU Deputy Legal Director, Judy Rabinovitz of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project and Arthur B. Spitzer of the ACLU of the National Capital Area.

Thursday, September 23, 2010
9:30 a.m. EDT

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
333 Constitution Ave. NW
Washington, D.C.
On a related note, see Andy Worthington's excellent article on Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s outrageous decision to deny Fayiz Al-Kandari his habeas petition. The decision itself has not been published. As Andy wrote:
... the authorities have refused to accept al-Kandari’s account of his activities, even though a cursory glance at the allegations against him demonstrates that, of the 20 allegations against him, 16 are attributed to an unidentified “individual,” and only one — a claim that he “suggested that he and another individual travel to Afghanistan to participate in jihad and … provided them with aliases” — came from al-Kandari himself (and has been refuted by him).
The paucity of evidence is so extreme that, after his Combatant Status Review Tribunal in 2004 (a deliberately one-sided process designed to rubber-stamp the men’s prior designation as “enemy combatants”), the tribunals’ legal advisor made a point of dissenting from the tribunal’s conclusion that he was an “enemy combatant,” stating:
Indeed, the evidence considered persuasive by the Tribunal is made up almost entirely of hearsay evidence recorded by unidentified individuals with no first hand knowledge of the events they describe.
As researchers at the Seton Hall law School noted, in a major analysis of the CSRT documentation, entitled, “No-Hearing Hearings” (PDF, p. 34), “Outside of the CSRT process, this type of evidence is more commonly referred to as ‘rumor.’”

Although these “rumors” were sufficient for the Pentagon to regard him as a prisoner of such significance that he was put forward for a trial by Military Commission in October 2008 (which has not been revived under President Obama), it is difficult to escape the conclusion that, inside the prison, he is regarded as a threat not because of what he is supposed to have done prior to his capture, but because of his attitude in detention.

The fact that the majority of the allegations against him were made by other prisoners is largely a testament to his own resistance. As one of Guantánamo’s least compliant prisoners, he has not fought back physically, but has refused to make false confessions implicating himself or others, as so many others have done under duress (and as the judges in the District Court have been exposing in other habeas petitions).
See the whole article, and while you're informing yourself, bookmark Andy's ongoing series describing "Who are the remaining prisoners in Guantánamo?

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