Tag Archives: guantanamo bay

What this election is about

This election is about a lot of things.  It’s about the economy, it’s about health care, it’s about education, it’s about Iraq ….  For me, though, what it’s really about is restoring America to what it once was and what it should be again.  It’s about restoring our Constitutional rights.  It’s about the appointment of at least one, if not three, Supreme Court Justices.  It’s about the Military Commissions Act and the Patriot Act.  It’s about FISA.  It’s about Guantanamo Bay and whether or not America stands for torture

I was looking through old editorial cartoons at Cagle this morning and came across one from 2004 that sums up this election, for me, perfectly:

Daryl Cagle, 2004

Daryl Cagle, 2004


Decide what this election is about for you, educate yourself and then, please, use your vote wisely.

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Filed under Bush Administration, constitutional rights, guantanamo bay, John McCain, political cartoons

My new hero

I don’t say this lightly.  I say this with a joyful heart and tears in my eyes.  Seriously.  This isn’t hyperbole.

Judge Ricardo Urbina, Federal District Court

Judge Ricardo Urbina, Federal District Court

This man you see, Judge Ricardo M. Urbina of Federal District Court, a Clinton appointee, is my new hero.  He has ordered that a group of 17 Guantanamo detainees be produced before him for release.  This is the first ruling of this kind in nearly seven years of legal wrangling over the rights of detainess at Gitmo. 

All of these men, these detainees, are members of the Uighur Muslim minority from China and literally cannot return to China because they fear for their lives.  They were in Afghanistan as political refugees and were swept into Afghan detention camps in 2001 in error.  There is no other country which will accept them for fear of retribution from China, so they will be released to the care of other Uighur Muslims living in the US.

This case was brought before Judge Urbina under the ruling by the Supreme Court which restored the detainees habeas corpus rights and it comes after the government has admitted that it has no evidence that these men are a threat to the United States.  Judge Urbina challenged the government’s assertions that he has no right to free these detainees and warned against any further delay tactics.  He also made clear that no other agencies (immigration, for instance) should try and arrest the men upon their release.

I am thankful for Judge Urbina’s courage and wisdom and I fervently hope that other Judges follow his lead in future habeas corpus cases brought on behalf of Guantanamo Bay detainees.  Don’t go crazy:  there are certainly a few at Gitmo who may need to be brought to further justice.  But there are many who should be freed or, at the least, released to their home countries.  Judge Urbina has opened the door to this process and, for this, he is my new hero.


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If this doesn’t make you angry ….

I know, y’all must think I’m the angriest chick on the planet.  But I read this shit and get so mad and then I come here and unleash it all on y’all.  I truly, truly hope that it makes you angry, too, and that you then share your anger with someone who shares their anger and on and on.  Maybe then something will change.

So you know we’ve talked about Guantanamo Bay and, specifically, the cases of Omar Khadr and Mohamed Jawad.  As a refresher, remember that in June the Supreme Court ruled in the Boumediene v. Bush case that Guantanamo Bay detainees do have a right to habeas corpus.  While hailed as a victory for the detainees, realists understood that the Bush administration would continue to use every possible option to keep these cases out of court.  An article in the New York Times this morning bears this out. 

According to Vijay Padmanabhan, a former State Department lawyer with responsibility for detainee issues who left in July to teach at Cardozo Law School:

The legal issues that are being raised by the administration are going to take longer than the remaining time of the administration.  It is part of a broader strategy which is not to make difficult decisions about Guantánamo and leave it to the next president.

So let’s see, the Bush administration has screwed the next administration into a massive national debt, an $800b+ economic rescue plan for a sinking economy, some sort of agreement on our long term presence in Iraq (details tba), and Gitmo.  And in the meantime, these detainees, many of whom have been there for five years or more (Khadr has been there for seven), are stuck in legal limbo, even after the Supreme Court restored their rights.  It’s pure insanity and not what we are about … or should be about … as Americans.

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Filed under constitutional rights, guantanamo bay

McCain’s speech leaves my head spinning

I have MSNBC on in the background and John McCain is giving speech in MO.  He just caught my ear with this:

We will stop sending $700b a year to countries that don’t like us very much.

What about Iraq, John?  They don’t like us very much.  As recently as March, 61% of Iraqis said that our presence in their country was making things worse.  So let’s stop sending them money, and troops, and weapons.  Let’s spend that money here and bring our troops home before any more of them die.

Here’s another quote from the same speech:

It’s time to show the world again how Americans lead.

What about Guantanamo Bay, John?  Is that how Americans lead?  Keeping child soldiers detained for years on end, without the protections of international agreements, to which we’re a signatory, protecting the rights of child soldiers?  Torture, John?  Is that how we lead?

I can’t keep up.  Now he’s talking about how he would lead without needing to take credit.  What the hell was last week, then?  What the hell was “suspending” his campaign to rush back to DC to help solve the crisis about if it wasn’t to take credit?  Come on, John, do you really take us for a nation of idiots?  Do you think we have collective amnesia?  <sigh>

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Filed under guantanamo bay, Iraq, John McCain, The Economy

Omar Khadr to Mohamed Jawad

Remember Omar Khadr?  He’s the Canadian citizen held at Guantanamo Bay, captured in Afghanistan at the age of 15 after allegedly throwing a grenade at American troops.  Only by all accounts, he’s innocent.  He has never been offered the protections of the international agreements set up for child soldiers.

Yesterday brought us some major news in the case of another child soldier, Mahamed Jawad.  Jawad was captured in Afghanistan when he was 16 or 17 for allegedly throwing a grenade and wounding two US soldiers and an Afghani interpreter.  On September 24, the prosecutor assigned to Jawad’s case, Lt Col Darrel Vandeveld resigned from the case.  An article in the Washington Post quotes from Lt Col Vandeveld’s filing with the military court:

My ethical qualms about continuing to serve as a prosecutor relate primarily to the procedures for affording defense counsel discovery.  I am highly concerned, to the point that I believe I can no longer serve as a prosecutor at the Commissions, about the slipshod, uncertain ‘procedure’ for affording defense counsel discovery.

As in Khadr’s case, there are significant questions surrounding Jawad’s guilt and, as mentioned, the US did not take any steps to protect Jawad as a child soldier.  Vandeveld was trying to ensure that the questions in Jawad’s case, including whether or not Jawad was drugged before the attack and the alleged confession of two other Afghanis, were investigated.  He was also trying to ensure that Jawad was offered rehabilitation, as guaranteed under international agreements on the treatment of child soldiers.

Both of these young men have been at Guantanamo Bay for startling long times:  Khadr for 7 years and Jawad for 5.  Both have been held without legitimate trials.  For histories and updates on both these cases, visit Andy Worthington’s outstanding work.  

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Omar Khadr

Back in July, we talked briefly about Omar Khadr, the now 22-year old Canadian citizen who was first brought to Guantanamo Bay at 15.  Andy Worthington at Alternet.org and AndyWorthington.co.uk has been keeping track of all kinds of things going on at Gitmo and has paid very close attention to Kahdr’s case. 

In short, Khadr is accused of throwing a grenade which killed an American soldier in Afghanistan.  The only problem is that reports essentially indicate that he didn’t.  The US Government has not abided by international protections set up for child soldiers and has denied Khadr treatment and aid for several injuries and medical conditions.  He has also, of course, been subjected to interrogation, torture, and solitary confinement, even after his case was thrown out and he should have been released. 

This is just a brief summary of Khadr’s situation.  There are many, many disturbing details and a review of his case history is enlightening and frightening.  If you care at all about the abuses our Constitution is taking, the frightening Military Commissions Act, and the “war on terror,” which cannot be helped by our actions at Gitmo, please go read Worthington’s latest piece at Alternet.org and then study his blog.

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Sorry this took so long

OK, y’all, this is so late.  I should have sent you to this link over a month ago.  But, honestly, it took me until just a few minutes ago to finish reading all of it because it makes me so _ damn _ mad.  Let’s all harken back to how I feel about the Military Commissions Act and understand that Gitmo was opened so that we could have somewhere to torture people.  Please go read Naomi Wolf for background here.  Now, once you have all of that under you for support, go to the Post and read this:  General Accuses White House of War Crimes.  Take some time, y’all.  This is five pages of tough, honest reporting about how we’ve gotten to the place where we routinely torture sixteen year olds.  The arrogance and non-chalance of some of the characters in this report is revolting.  The only thing left to say is that everyone needs to read, learn, and then use his or her vote wisely.  This is no joke, y’all.


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The Constitution has finally prevailed

Yesterday, the Constitution won.  In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court said that prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay have the right to have their cases heard in US courts, granting them the writ of habeas corpus.  Writing for the majority in Boumediene v. Bush, Justice Anthony Kennedy said, “Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system they are reconciled within the framework of the law. The Framers decided that habeas corpus, a right of first importance, must be a part of that framework, a part of that law.”

President Bush was none too happy with the decision, saying, while on a trip in Italy, “First of all it’s a Supreme Court decision. We will abide by the court’s decision. It was a deeply divided court and I strongly agree with those who dissented. The dissent was based upon those serious concerns about U.S. national security. Congress and the administration worked very carefully on … a piece of legislation that set the appropriate procedures in place as to how to deal with the detainees.”  He went on to say that his Administration would study the ruling, ” … with this in mind, to determine whether or not additional legislation might be appropriate so we can safely say to the American people: ‘We’re doing everything we can to protect you.'”

I am not surprised at all that Bush is pissed.  It’s hard to keep your citizens under the blanket of fear when the courts expose the “enemies,” like Omad Khadr, to the light of day.  But it’s a huge victory for America when the Court allows the rest of world to see that our system of checks and balances can, even at the last stop, prevail.  The Constitution was bruised and battered along its way through, being hit hard by both the executive and legislative branches.  It then was dealt near death blows by the courts along its way to the highest court in the land.  But the highest court saved it and proved that our system does, indeed, work.  This was a victory not only for the Constitution, but for the framework of our government detailed therein.

Writing for the opposition and speaking from the bench about his opposition, Justice Antonin Scalia said that the decision “… will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.”  I’m not sure how.  These prisoners have been held at Gitmo for years.  Were any of them truly guilty, their fellow combatants would not get the message from this ruling that they could get caught, extradited to the US, have a short, easy confinement, get a fair day in a lenient US court, be set free, and return to the battlefield.  That’s just not the way it works and not the way it will be seen in the world.  The message it does send the world, however, is that we are finally taking our role as human rights leaders seriously.

To read the Opinion and the Dissent for yourself, go here:  FindLaw.com.


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