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""The bottom line is that the Obama administration's policies on 'targeted killing'
and indefinite detention rest on the fundamentally flawed "global war" legal theory
that ignores human rights law and does not comply with the international legal
definition of armed conflict." 
~Zeke Johnson, Amnesty International Human Rights campaign
Alliance Portal for the Prisoners Still at Guantanemo Bay

Join us for the Portland, Oregon “Close Guantanamo” vigil, featuring our large colorful banner, from 4-6pm Mon-Fri (so far held in front of City Hall, at the corner of SW 4th and SW Jefferson). We’ve now introduced street theater at select downtown intersections, portraying an orange-suited Guantanamo prisoner in a wheelchair, with bound torso, arms, legs, and head, being force-fed with a tube through his nose by white-coated medical personnel protected by military guards.

Thanks to Tom Chamberlin for this:

Click below to Sign a Petition to Close Gitmo as we were promised years ago! close-detention-facility-at-guantanamo-bay-3

Barack Obama Can Shut Guantanamo Whenever He Wants!  But he doesn't.

Congress isn’t stopping him.

Alliance Portal for the Prisoners Still at Guantanamo Bay
Click below to Sign a Petition to Close Gitmo
as President Obama promised years ago!

By |Posted Thursday, May 2, 2013, at 5:54 P

Camp Delta at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, March 6, 2013.
Camp Delta at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, March 6, 2013.

Photo by Bob Strong/Reuters

In his press conference, President Obama repeated that he wanted to shut Guantanamo Bay but blamed Congress for stopping him. “They would not let us close it,” he said. But that’s wrong. President Obama can lawfully release the detainees if he wants to. Congress has made it difficult, but not impossible. Whatever he’s saying, the president does not want to close the detention center—at least not yet.

The relevant law is the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA). This statute confirms the president’s power to wage war against al-Qaida and its associates, which was initially given to him in the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed shortly after 9/11. The NDAA also authorizes the president to detain enemy combatants, and bans him from transferring Guantanamo detainees to American soil.

The NDAA does not, however, ban the president from releasing detainees. Section 1028 authorizes him to release them to foreign countries that will accept them—the problem is that most countries won’t, and others, like Yemen, where about 90 of the 166 detainees are from, can’t guarantee that they will maintain control over detainees, as required by the law.

There is another section of the NDAA, however, which has been overlooked. In section 1021(a), Congress “affirms” the authority of the U.S. armed forces under the AUMF to
detain members of al-Qaida and affiliated groups “pending disposition under the law of war.” Section 1021(c)(1) further provides that “disposition under the law of war” includes “Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by” the AUMF. Thus, when hostilities end, the detainees may be released.

The president has the power to end the hostilities with al-Qaida—simply by declaring their end. This is not a controversial sort of power. Numerous presidents have ended hostilities without any legislative action from Congress—this happened with the Vietnam War, the Korean War, World War II, and World War I. The Supreme Court has confirmed that the president has this authority.

Nor is there any reason why President Obama couldn’t declare the war with al-Qaida at an end. The group’s original core is gone. A Department of Defense official recently hinted that the end of the conflict with al-Qaida is approaching, while the troop drawdown in Afghanistan will be completed next year. Associates and fellow travelers continue to exist, but the president is free to end hostilities even so; this, too, has happened many times before, like in Korea and Vietnam.

It’s true that section 1027, the provision of the NDAA that flatly prohibits the use of funds to transfer Guantanamo detainees to U.S. soil, appears to make it impossible to transfer them to prisons inside the U.S. But if that’s the case, and detainees can’t be transferred to foreign countries under section 1028 either, then section 1027 essentially orders the president to detain non-combatants indefinitely, and such an order is of dubious constitutionality at best.

When the Supreme Court approved indefinite detention of members of al-Qaida and the Taliban in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld in 2004, the premise was the president’s military authority under the AUMF and the “active combat operations against Taliban fighters” in Afghanistan. When active combat operations cease, this pillar of the Supreme Court’s opinion falls. And while courts have been reluctant to grant rights to detainees that constrain the president’s power, they are likely to take the opposite view if he advances those rights while declaring that hostilities have ended.

The better interpretation of section 1027, one that avoids constitutional difficulties, bans transfers from Guantanamo to the U.S. only as long as hostilities continue. Courts have recognized repeatedly that the president can act on reasonable interpretations of statutes when they are ambiguous or contain internal contradictions; that statutes should be read to avoid constitutional problems like the one mentioned above; and that the president is entitled to special deference when laws touch on his foreign affairs and military powers. Yet another rule discourages interpretations of statutes that violate international law—which requires enemy combatants to be released at the end of hostilities unless they are convicted of crimes. For all these reasons, if President Obama were to declare an end of hostilities with al-Qaida and release detainees, he would be on reasonable legal ground. And it’s not as though Obama has been shy about asserting executive power when Congress blocks an objective he cares about. His military intervention in Libya in defiance of the War Powers Act (and legal advice from some of his own lawyers) is one example.

If Obama declared hostilities at an end, the Guantanamo detainees would be no different from people who were washed up on U.S. territory by accident, like shipwrecked sailors. Those who pose no danger to the United States (about 86 of the 166), and cannot be returned to their countries, could receive refugee status under existing laws. Those who are known to be dangerous could be arrested under criminal law. If ... section 1027 is unconstitutional, both groups could be brought to the United States. The detainees we cannot convict would be released. That may be politically unpalatable but it is legal.

Congress would squawk, but only a veto-proof majority of Congress would have standing to challenge the president in court, and it is hard to imagine that such a majority would sue. And even if it did, courts tend to duck disputes like this between the branches.

President Obama may worry that if he declares an end of hostilities with al-Qaida, he would need to terminate his beloved drone program, which operates in part under authority of the AUMF. But ample legal precedent shows presidents can use military force under their constitutional powers; and, in any event, nothing would stop President Obama from continuing the AUMF with respect to associates of al-Qaida. And if al-Qaida rises from the dead, Congress will eagerly supply him with a new law to fight it.

The real issue here, of course, is that Congress has given the president a convenient excuse for not doing something he doesn’t really want to do anyway. The public wants to keep Guantanamo open. Shutting it would generate a serious backlash that enraged members of Congress would whip up. It also matters that President Obama does not object to indefinite detention, but to the island prison itself. That is why he wants to move detainees to a supermax in the United States, not release them. But doing so would make clear that his campaign promise to shut down Guantanamo Bay was an empty one. The place of indefinite detention would change; the system supporting it would not. He does better with headlines like “Congress, rules keep Obama from closing Guantanamo Bay” than with “Obama moves detainees to U.S. soil where they will remain forever.” The president will not shut Guantanamo, and the reason is politics, not law. If you don’t like this choice, blame him.

GITMO, ...For Shame...  

and murder at Guantanamo Bay

We must stand up and fight back for the hunger strikers at Gitmo.  There is no excuse for this legacy of torture and murder.  Ostensibly, the people of the United States of America support peace, justice, and freedom.  But our so-called leaders in congress and the executive branch absolutely refuse to act with honor. So, lets take it to the streets. The indefinite detention of people known to be innocent of any crime is unacceptable. This dishonors my father and other veterans who fought in World War

Two and is an abomination.  

Tim Flanagan, contributing editor


 Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere. ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)

Some of us will continue fasting every Friday until President Barack Obama’s promise to close Guantanamo is fulfilled.

We will try to reach the men at Guantanamo, their families, and men formerly detained to let them know that we have not forgotten their suffering.

We will continue to organize, agitate and witness in defense of human rights and the U.S. Constitution.

It was one of Barack Obama’s marquee campaign promises in 2008: Close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which would erase a terrorist recruiting tool and a black spot on America’s human rights record.

Hours after his inauguration in 2009 Mr. Obama halted all commission trials at the detention facility for suspected terrorists, and then two days later, on Jan. 22, he signed an executive order committing to close the prison.

By Stephen Dinan

Read more:

Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

Guantanamo Bay Still Open & Barack Obama is Still Assaulting the Bill of Rights629

Within 48 hours of taking office in January 2009, Barack Obama signed an executive order closing the U.S. detention facility at its Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba within one year.

That was then.

...More than three years later, thanks in part to Obama’s other executive order, Gitmo has become an indefinite feature of America’s indefinite fight against terrorism, where prisoners are held without charge indefinitely.

...President Obama claims the right to kill U.S. citizens without any due process if he and his secret death panel deem them a threat to national security. Almost as unsettling was the hearty praise Obama received from conservatives and liberals alike, who demonstrated a disturbing willingness to trust the government to determine which American citizens are appropriate targets for assassination.

...These are not the policies of administration that is protecting freedom, but rather policies that sacrifice it in the hopes of attaining some elusive Total Security. Barack Obama has simply continued and expanded the most egregious anti-liberty measures enacted by the Bush administration upon a frightened public in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Concerning civil liberties, Obama is hardly any different from his predecessor, and in some instances he’s even worse. To say he has failed to protect the Bill of Rights would be to imply that he has been negligent, but the reality is much worse because his administration is actively undermining it.

Instead of Closing, Gitmo to Receive Major Upgrades

Pentagon Set for Major Modernization Project for Prison

by Jason Ditz, March 21, 2013

It was supposed to be closed by now, indeed President Obama promised to have it closed four years ago. but with Guantanamo Bay still there, and still full of detainees who the administration now seems comfortable keeping forever without charges or a trial, it is facing an “overhaul.”

The Obama administration bungled its effort to close Gitmo early in the president's first term, and a bipartisan revolt in Congress over the possibility of bringing detainees to US soil, even for trial or imprisonment, led to extremely tight restrictions that slowed the rate of detainees leaving the prison to a crawl. Although closing Gitmo was likely impossible already, the fact that Fried's position is not being filled is an acknowledgement by the White House that one of Obama's key campaign promises is now out of reach. At least fifty-five of the remaining 166 detainees at Gitmo have been cleared for transfer.

Torture At Guantanamo

Torture at Guantanamo has been well documented. As Susan Crawford, the Bush Administration’s top official for reviewing practices at Guantanamo, said in January of 2009We tortured [Mohammed al-] Qahtani… His treatment met the legal definition of torture.” The military's own document show that he was "was forced to wear a woman's bra and had a thong placed on his head during the course of his interrogation" and "was told that his mother and sister were whores." With a leash tied to his chains, he was led around the room "and forced to perform a series of dog tricks…”

But the torture and abuse go well beyond the case of Mohammed al-Qahtani. The types of torture at Guantanamo documented include:

  • Waterboarding

  • Beatings

  • Stress positions (forcing prisoners to stand or crouch for hours)

  • Sexual abuse (female interrogators pretending to rub menstrual blood on a chained prisoner’s face, e.g.)

  • Torture by music (earā€splitting music for hours on end, which has been proven to induce states of psychosis in prisoners after just a few hours)

  • Sleep Deprivation (sometimes for weeks on end, another tactic known to induce psychosis in prisoners)

  • Temperature extremes

  • Forcible beard shaving (a form of religious humiliation that was also used on religious Jews by Nazi soldiers)

  • Prolonged isolation

  • Threats of rendition, and threats against prisoners’ families.


More than 10 years have passed since the first prisoner arrived in Guantánamo Bay, making it the longest-standing war prison in U.S. history. Almost 800 men have passed through Guantánamo’s cells. Today, 166 men remain. Fashioned as an “island outside the law” where terrorism suspects could be detained without process and interrogated without restraint, Guantánamo has been a catastrophic failure on every front. It is long past time for this shameful episode in American history to be brought to a close. 

More than a decade on, we are stuck in a multi-branch quagmire, where no arm of government is willing to act to end Guantánamo’s blight on our reputation and our security. All must change tack, and Guantánamo must close. 

  • The Supreme Court must define the scope of war-time detention, and ensure that the right to habeas corpus is a meaningful one that tests, and does not endorse, the government’s case. 

  • Congress must lift the unnecessary restrictions on transfer and release from Guantánamo, particularly for the 86 men whom our security services and military have unanimously determined should be released. 

  • And the president must show the courage of his previously-stated convictions and either prosecute the other 77 men in federal court, if there is untainted evidence against them, or set them free (the 3 remaining prisoners were convicted by deeply flawed military commissions).

From the Blog:

"There are men there who have been cleared of all charges and are not being released.  There are others who have been in legal limbo, with no court date in sight, for years.  All while we live with a second term president who promised to close Gitmo in his first term, and seems to be doing nothing on the issue now."

In short, President Hope and Change is overseeing a prison system that has what we *know* are innocent men behind bars, whom we simply can’t be bothered to release, along with other men whom we can’t be bothered to find out if they are worthy of prison or not.  They are guilty of being swarthy and Muslim, but beyond that, we don’t know and don’t care.  So these forgotten prisoners, in their desperation, are hunger striking.

It’s of a piece, of course, with this Administration’s method of dealing with ”terror”: blow up weddings and funerals and deliberately murder women and children on the theory that some of them may be terrorists.  Afterwards, declare them terrorists and nobody will be the wiser.

In a report for Thursday's NBC Today, investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff reported on plans for a $150 million renovation of the Guantanamo Bay prison still housing 166 terror detainees and sympathetically described how "despite improvements in recent years" of the facility, "the detainees' hopes of getting released were crushed when President Obama stopped talking about closing it."
 [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Isikoff noted that some of the detainees were "engaged in a hunger an attempt to regain attention." A sound bite played of new the commanding general of the prison expressing his frustration with President Obama: "Nothing in the inauguration speech about closing it. Nothing in the State of the Union. You know, he's not re-staffing the office that was, you know, focused on closing or transferring."

Isikoff forwarded the Obama administration defense: "White House officials say they're still committed to closing Gitmo as the President once promised....But they say their hands are tied by Congress..."

He then described some of the planned spending on the prison: "General Kelly wants to spend tens of millions for a new guard barracks, dining hall, and legal conference center. The Pentagon is already spending $40 million for an underwater fiberoptic cable to pipe video of the military commission hearings of the 9/11 hijackers. As one defense lawyer said, 'Gitmo seems to be the one place they don't care about spending money.'"

Read more:

              Over 100 Guantánamo Hunger Strikers

                        Protest Cruelty of Indefinite Detention

Lawyers raise flags about prisoners' deteriorating health and worsening 'humanitarian crisis'

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Over 100 prisoners in Guantánamo Bay's Camp 6 have reportedly joined in a hunger strike in protest of the worsening conditions amidst the "crushing reality" of indefinite detention.

Reacting to the worsening "humanitarian crisis" at the prison, members from theCenter for Constitutional Rights (CCR) testified at a hearing Tuesday before the international human rights body, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), "marking the first time since President Obama’s re-election that U.S. officials were confronted with questions about Guantánamo and its future in a formal public setting."

"In light of the humanitarian crisis unfolding at Guantanamo, it is indefensible that the U.S. government failed to answer the Commission’s simple questions about how it plans to close the prison camp," CCR said in a statement released Tuesday. Representatives before the IACHR testified on issues including the "grave psychological impact of indefinite detention, the deaths of men at Guantánamo, the lack of access to fair trials, and illegitimate U.S. policies that restrict the closure of the prison, including the blanket ban on repatriating Yemeni men."

Protests within the prison have grown as well, with reports of over a hundred men having joined the hunger strike now in its fifth week.

Pardiss Kebriaei, an attorney with CCR representing Yemeni detainee Ghaleb Al-Bihani, said, "My client and other men have reported that most of the detainees in Camp 6 are on strike, except for a small few who are elderly or sick."

Prompted by concern over the failing health of the striking detainees, twelve attorneys sent aletter (pdf) last week to the commander of Guantánamo, Rear Admiral John Smith, denouncing "a matter that appears to be rapidly deteriorating and reaching a potentially critical level."

"We have received reports of men coughing blood, being hospitalized, losing consciousness, becoming weak and fatigued," said the letter.

As Gitmo Prisoners Revolt, Obama Administration Challenged
on Indefinite Detention at OAS Hearing

As more than 100 Guantánamo Bay prisoners enter the fifth week of their hunger strike, the Obama administration has defended their detention at a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. A number of prisoners have been held without charge for more than 11 years, and more than half have been cleared for release. Attorneys for the prisoners told the hearing that the lack of hope for release among those who do not face charges has created a climate of despair. 

We speak to Kristine Huskey, director of the Anti-Torture Program for Physicians for Human Rights and one of the first attorneys to represent Guantánamo detainees. The author of "Justice at Guantánamo: One Woman’s Odyssey and Her Crusade for Human Rights," :

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We continue now with our look at detainees held indefinitely at the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as we turn to a hearing that took place Tuesday before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Attorneys for the prisoners warned the lack of hope for release among those who do not face charges has created a climate of despair. This is Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Omar Farah speaking before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, D.C.

OMAR FARAH: I represent Tariq Ba Odah, for example. He’s a young Yemeni man who’s been on an uninterrupted hunger strike since February 2007. He is force-fed daily by Guantánamo guard staff. In fact, as we speak, it’s likely that he’s being removed from his cell, strapped to a restraint chair, and a rubber tube is being inserted into his nose to pump a liquid dietary supplement into his stomach. Quite simply, Tariq says this is the only way that he has to communicate to those of us who have our freedom what it means to be unjustly detained, to be put in a cell for a decade without charge. It’s his only way to, in fact, communicate the barbarism of such conduct.
So I’d like to conclude by addressing the state directly. In light of the moral challenge that Tariq Ba Odah and the other prisoners at Guantánamo present; in light of the existential torment that indefinite detention creates for Guantánamo prisoners and the physical risks that it poses; in light of the fact that the state itself has conceded that more than half of the prisoners, the state no longer has an interest in detaining, through the clearances that my colleague just described; in light of the fact that nine prisoners have died at Guantánamo in U.S. custody—and after 11 years, when is enough enough?

Guantanamo Hunger Strike Continues - No Legal Basis for Holding Prisoners

Michael Ratner: The Obama Admin. is responsible for the continued imprisonment of men who were found not to have been involved in any crime or act of war - March 22, 2013

JAY: Michael, I don't get--according to the Obama administration, what is the legal basis for keeping people who have been cleared in jail?

RATNER: Paul, the answer is: there is no legal basis, none at all. Under even their worst legal scenarios that they make up, they're obviously--if they were prisoners under criminal law, they're not charged with anything, they should be out. If they were held under the laws of war as, you know, prisoners of war or captives in a war, then they could be held to the end of war. But they're not being held as that, because they're not considered to be combatants or captives. They were cleared of any of that. So there's no reason under military law. And there's no reason under what we call the third way, the U.S. idea that it can pick up terrorists--quote, "terrorists"--anywhere in the world and hold them indefinitely. They're not under that category.

So there is absolutely no legal basis. The courts know there's no legal basis. The courts have on occasion ordered them to be released, that they're ignored by the administration. The administration says it rules where people go. Congress has now gotten in the act, saying they have to be certified. As I said, the second basis for releasing them would be a certification. Obama has not done that and hasn't done that.

The third reason they have been held up is a number of them are from Yemen. Perhaps half of them are from Yemen. Yemen is a country, according to our government, that's unstable, that has problems. And even though 56 of the cleared people are from Yemen and have been cleared, they're not being sent to Yemen. Obama put a moratorium on sending anyone to Yemen, even though they're as innocent as you and I going to Yemen. Somehow they fear that if they go to Yemen, they'll become terrorists or something like that. I don't know. But there's a moratorium on Yemen.

So if you look at the three things, it's Obama's weakness, it's Congress, which made it difficult and requires a certification, which Obama has so far not been willing to do, and there's Obama having a moratorium on sending people to Yemen.

So here we sit with 186 people [sic] at Guantanamo, 86 on no charges, and the world should be screaming. I mean, I don't understand it. And the question is: what are we going to do about it?

There is some activity. There's--the Center for Constitutional Rights has a number of actions on the website. But also, starting on March 24, there's a one-week hunger strike here in solidarity in the United States and around the world. The group is called Witness Against Torture. Their website And you can go to that site. There's a number of actions you can take, including joining in a seven-day hunger strike, or even missing a meal, certainly writing letters and all of that, but actually showing your outrage.

I mean, we used to ask ourselves--and, of course, it's not close to what happened in places like Germany or Chile or other places, but where was the population while this was going on, while a human outrage is going on? And each of us has to ask ourselves. People stranded and left forever in an offshore prison, and the United States population and its media is completely passive about it.

JAY: Alright. Thanks for joining us, Michael.

RATNER: Thanks for having me, Paul.

JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

Holder Must Answer Tough Questions on Drones

and Guantanamo

Contact: Sharon Singh,, 202-675-8579, @AIUSAmedia


Zeke Johnson, director of Amnesty International USA's Security with Human Rights campaign, issued the following statement in advance of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's appearance in front of the U.S. Senate Judiciary committee scheduled for Wednesday, March 6:

"Senators have a great opportunity on Wednesday to ask Attorney General Holder tough questions about the administration's legal rationale for drone killings and embrace of indefinite detention at Guantanamo. Doing so would be a concrete step toward ensuring no person — U.S. citizen or anyone else — is unlawfully killed or illegally detained.

"The bottom line is that the Obama administration's policies on 'targeted killing' and indefinite detention rest on the fundamentally flawed "global war" legal theory that ignores human rights law and does not comply with the international legal definition of armed conflict.

"It is incumbent on Mr. Holder to fully answer why and how U.S. authorities will remedy this problem, not in sound bites or generalities, but in concrete ways that change the United States' course on human rights."

For a list of the top five questions that Attorney General Holder must answer, please visit Zeke Johnson's latest blog or go to

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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