Andy Worthington


Former Prosecutor in Bush Military Commissions: From “True Believer” to “Truly Deceived”

 

By Andy Worthington
 
Recently I reported how Retired Rear Admiral John D. Hutson, the former Judge Advocate General of the US Navy from 1997 to 2000, had delivered compelling testimony to a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on “legal issues regarding military commissions and the trial of detainees for violations of the law of war,” explaining why the only valid forum for trials of suspected terrorists at Guantánamo Bay is the US federal court system.
 
The lucidity and directness of Hutson’s testimony was in marked contrast to the amendments to the existing Military Commission system — and terrifying asides about the use of “preventive detention” — that were proposed by Jeh Johnson, the Defense Department’s General Counsel, and David Kris, the Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department’s National Security Division, in response to legislation already prepared by the Committee, which, it seems, will be presented to the Senate in the imminent future, even though it still allows (subject to certain restrictions) the use of information — I hesitate to use the word “evidence” — obtained through coercion, and other information that is nothing more than hearsay.

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Guantánamo Trials Resume: “Unethical, Immoral and Unjust”

 By Andy Worthington

At Guantánamo this week, the Military Commission trial system convened for only the second time since President Obama announced a four-month freeze on all proceedings on his first day in office to give the new administration’s inter-departmental Guantánamo Task Force an opportunity to review the best ways in which to deal with the remaining prisoners inherited from the Bush administration.
 
Reviving the Commissions, ill-advisedly
 
In May, in a major speech on national security, Barack Obama signaled that he was planning to revive the Commissions, arguing that, with some amendments, they would be “fair, legitimate, and effective,” and promising to “work with Congress and legal authorities across the political spectrum on legislation” that would fulfill these aims.

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Obama: No Justice for the Last Tajik in Guantánamo

 By Andy Worthington 

 Two weeks ago, the indefatigable Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald, Guantánamo’s most dedicated reporter, outlined the story of Umar Abdulayev, the last Tajik prisoner in Guantánamo, who has been cleared for release from the prison on two occasions — once by a military review board under the Bush administration, and six weeks ago by the Obama administration’s inter-departmental Guantánamo Task Force, established by President Obama on his second day in office.
 
In what appeared to be a shining but all too uncommon example of practical behavior by the Obama administration’s Justice Department — which has generally been content to court humiliation by contesting unjust and unwinnable cases in front of District Court judges in habeas corpus hearings (as demonstrated here and here) — lawyers informed Judge Reggie Walton on June 3 that they “will no longer defend his detention, and want US diplomats to arrange to repatriate him.”
 
Obama suspends habeas corpus, Umar Abdulayev fears repatriation

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Partners in Crime: The U.S., the U.K., and the Extraordinary Rendition of Torture

By Andy Worthington   

 Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files, reports on three important court cases in the UK this week, focusing on “extraordinary rendition” and torture in the “War on Terror.” These cases have implications not only for the complicity of the British government in the Bush administration’s flight from the law, but also for the Obama administration, which, on a number of fronts, appears to be doing all in its power to either maintain Bush-era policies or to shield the previous administration from accountability for its actions.
 

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Judge Orders Release Of Tortured Guantánamo Prisoner; Government Refuses To Concede Defeat

 By Andy Worthington 

 On July 30, in a long-anticipated ruling (PDF), Judge Ellen Segan Huvelle granted the habeas corpus petition of Mohamed Jawad, an Afghan teenager seized after a grenade attack on a jeep containing two US soldiers and an Afghan translator in December 2002, and ordered the government to transfer him to the custody of the Afghan authorities, who have already stated that he will be released on arrival.
 
Even if the government accepts Judge Huvelle’s ruling, Jawad will not be released immediately, because, under the terms of legislation recently forced on the government by Congress, the administration will have to provide lawmakers with “an assessment of any risk to the national security” posed by Jawad before he can be freed, which, it said, would take 22 days.

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Guantánamo As Hotel California: You Can Check Out Any Time You Like, But You Can Never Leave

 By Andy Worthington

 Imagine if you were imprisoned for seven years without charge or trial, and then a judge ruled that the government’s case against you consisted solely of unreliable allegations made by other prisoners who were tortured, coerced, bribed or suffering from mental health issues, and a “mosaic” of intelligence, purporting to rise to the level of evidence, which actually relied, to an intolerable degree, on second- or third-hand hearsay, guilt by association and unsupportable suppositions, and stated that the government “should take all necessary diplomatic steps to facilitate“ your release.

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Guantánamo And The Courts (Part Two): Obama’s Shame

 By Andy Worthington

 In the first part of this three-part series examining the Guantánamo prisoners’ attempts to secure their release via the US courts, Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files, examined the Bush administration’s record in the seven months after the Supreme Court’s ruling, in June 2008, that the prisoners had constitutionally guaranteed habeas corpus rights, and explained how, despite obstruction by the Justice Department, District Court judges reviewed 26 cases, and in all but three found that the government had failed to establish, “by a preponderance of the evidence,” that it was justified in holding the men. This second article (and the final part next week) examine the Obama administration’s record, in its first seven months in office, presenting an under-reported story of ongoing obstruction by the Justice Department, apoplectic judges, and, in the majority of the cases in which a judge has been able to make a ruling, more humiliation for the government.

Bush’s Justice Department lives on in two depressing court rulings
 
On his second day in office, President Obama issued a number of Executive Orders, which appeared to tackle the worst excesses of the Bush administration’s “War on Terror,” and included pledges to uphold the absolute ban on torture and to close Guantánamo within a year. Given the repeated defeats of the Bush administration’s detention policies in the courts, it was not unreasonable to suppose that Obama would move swiftly to overhaul the Justice Department, which had been rocked by scandals indicating that it had become heavily politicized during the Bush years. Accordingly, it was anticipated that Obama would focus on putting in place new staff who would take on board the Supreme Court’s statement that “the cost of delay can no longer be borne by those in custody,” would prevent the obstruction that was all too apparent in the dying days of the Bush administration, and would urgently review the prisoners’ files to prevent further humiliation by taking unjust and unwinnable cases to court.

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Arrogance And Torture: A History of Guantánamo

 By Andy Worthington

If you’re looking for an introduction to the extra-legal horrors of Guantánamo, and the casual, almost mundane manner in which randomly-seized prisoners, who were not even screened according to the Geneva Conventions, found themselves the victims of a torture policy designed to make them reveal their mostly non-existent secrets, then you may like this article, which I wrote for the Future of Freedom Foundation, for whom I write a weekly column.
I.
The mesh-wire cages, suitable only for animals, are empty now and overgrown, but they will stand forever as a symbol of the Bush administration’s inept, brutal and destructive “War on Terror” policies, implemented in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the US mainland on September 11, 2001.
 
This is Camp X-Ray, the first of the prison camps at the US naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and it was here that the grimly iconic photos were taken, on January 11, 2002, showing the first prisoners arriving at the prison from Afghanistan. The images of these shackled and dehumanized figures, clad in orange, kneeling on gravel in painful stress positions, and with their eyes and ears blocked, have come to define the “War on Terror” as much as the notorious photos of abuse in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

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Spanish Judge Resumes Torture Case Against Six Senior Bush Lawyers

 

By Andy Worthington 
 
The Spanish newspaper Público reported exclusively on Saturday that Judge Baltasar Garzón is pressing ahead with a case against six senior Bush administration lawyers for implementing torture at Guantánamo.
 
Back in March, Judge Garzón announced that he was planning to investigate the six prime architects of the Bush administration’s torture policies — former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; John Yoo, a former lawyer in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, who played a major role in the preparation of the OLC’s notorious “torture memos”; Douglas Feith, the former undersecretary of defense for policy; William J. Haynes II, the Defense Department’s former general counsel; Jay S. Bybee, Yoo’s superior in the OLC, who signed off on the August 2002 “torture memos”; and David Addington, former Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff.

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Obama Brings Guantánamo and Rendition (Not Geneva Conventions) to Bagram

By Andy Worthington

Following briefings by Obama administration officials (who declined to be identified), both the New York Times and the Washington Post reported that the government is planning to introduce a new review system for the 600 or so prisoners held at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, which will, for the first time, allow them to call witnesses in their defense.
 
On paper, this appears to be an improvement on existing conditions at the prison, but a close inspection of the officials’ statement reveals that the proposed plans actually do very little to tackle the Bush administration’s wayward innovations regarding the detention of prisoners in wartime, and, moreover, the officials also provided the shocking news that prisoners are currently being rendered to Bagram from other countries.

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Is Bagram Obama’s New Secret Prison?

By Andy Worthington

On Monday, one day after the New York Times and the Washington Post reported that the Obama administration was planning to introduce tribunals for the prisoners held in the US prison at Bagram airbase, Afghanistan, the reason for the specifically-timed leaks that led to the publication of the stories became clear.
 
The government was hoping that offering tribunals to evaluate the prisoners’ status would perform a useful PR function, making the administration appear to be granting important rights to the 600 or so prisoners held in Bagram, and distracting attention from the real reason for its purported generosity: a 76-page brief to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (PDF), submitted yesterday, in which the government attempted to claim that “Habeas rights under the United States Constitution do not extend to enemy aliens detained in the active war zone at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.”

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World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.