Guantanamo Bay

“It’s the Salem witchcraft trials”

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“the worst of the worst” ~~ Rumsfeld.
“We totally suck at the GWOT!” ~~ Miss Devore.

In honor of Halloween, who could resist such a quote?

“It’s the Salem witchcraft trials,” said Marc Falkoff of Covington and Burling’s New York City office, who represents 17 Yemenis, several of them fingered — falsely, according to Falkoff — by different accusers. “You get one guy to start making accusations, and whether it’s believable or not doesn’t matter.”

I am reading from an an article in National Journal that was published February 3rd. In that week’s edition, their reporter, Corine Hegland wrote three stories on Guantanamo Bay detention camp, and it was while doing her research that she interviewed a number of the attorneys that represented detainees.

This is an old article, eight months old in fact, and some things have changed at GTMO and some things haven’t. The overall predicament of the detainees has, if anything, gotten worse since these lawyers were interviewed. More quotes in the next segment.

Here is Thomas Wilner calling a spade a spade:

Thomas Wilner, a partner at the Washington law firm Shearman and Stearling who is representing six Kuwaitis at Guantanamo, summarized the evidence against them: “Bullshit hearsay…. The information in some cases is, at best, hearsay allegations long after capture.”

And the there is Anant Raut.

“The people you’ve been going up against in court have been saying he’s the worst of the worst, Osama’s right-hand man,” said Anant Raut, an attorney with the Washington firm of Weil, Gotshal, & Manges. “Then you go in there, and it’s a guy who is as confused as you are as to why he is there.” Raut has one client, a Saudi, who is classified as an enemy combatant largely because he spent a couple of weeks on a Taliban bean farm. The man says the Taliban imprisoned him there because they thought he was a Saudi government spy.


The lawyers have much to worry and concern them.
For one thing, they are only ever allowed to visit their clients once every 6 months or so. And that is, if they are allowed at all. Often times a lawyer’s request to meet with his or her client is turned down by the claim that “Your client does not wish to meet with you”; a claim that usually is shown to be totally made up in the months that follow.

And then there is the difficult and worrying task of winning the trust of many of the detainees. Some lawyers have even complained that interrogators at Guantanamo encourage the detainees to think of all lawyers as stool pigeons. Maybe as a consequence, there are over 100 detainees (I think) without representation.

“There is no smoking gun,” said John Chandler, a partner in the Atlanta office of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan. One of his Guantanamo clients, picked up in Pakistan, is designated an enemy combatant in part because he once traveled on a bus with wounded Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan. The prisoner denies it, saying it was only a public bus. But then there’s the prisoner’s Casio watch. According to the Defense Department files, his watch is similar to another Casio model that has a circuit board that Al Qaeda has used for making bombs. The United States is using the Qaeda-favored Casio wristwatch as evidence against at least nine other detainees. But the offending model is sold in sidewalk stands around the world and is worn by one National Journal reporter. The primary difference between Chandler’s client’s watch and the Casio in question is that the detainee’s model hasn’t been manufactured for years, according to the U.S. military officer who was his personal representative at the tribunal.

There is a continual outcry of protest and dissatisfaction coming from the lawyers that represent detainees at Guantanamo – they think that many of their clients are being steamrollered towards the black hole of oblivion.

Julia Tarver Mason, a partner with Paul, Weiss, a firm based in New York City, represents a number of detainees, including a Saudi — an amputee — whom Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance turned over to the Americans. The alliance had taken him from a hospital. She says that the classified evidence against the men she represents has “details, but no meat.” The evidence might say, for example, that somebody said someone was a member of an aid group, and that aid group has been known to have some links to Al Qaeda, Mason says. “It’s all 12 steps removed.”

George Brent Mickum, a partner with Washington law firm Keller and Heckman, represents two British residents held at Guantanamo. “I can tell you what’s not there,” Mickum said of the classified evidence against his clients. “What’s not there is any evidence that any of my clients was associated with Al Qaeda in any way.”

Finally, there is the case of Turk with German citizenship, Murat Kurnaz, who was framed by the Pakistan security services (I.S.I.) and then handed over to US authorities for processing to Guantanamo. Lucky for Murat, the Pakistan accusations were proven to be concocted from overly fervent Pakistani imaginations.

Baher Azmy of Seton Hall Law School represents Murat Kurnaz, a Turk who is at Guantanamo. “The government has no case against him,” Azmy says. Kurnaz was plucked off a bus in Pakistan and subsequently accused of being friends with a suicide bomber. The government did not tell Kurnaz’s tribunal that his friend is alive and therefore could not be the referenced suicide bomber. In March, Kurnaz’s file was accidentally, and briefly, declassified: According to the Washington Post, it consisted of memos from domestic and foreign intelligence sources stating that Kurnaz posed no threat. The file, however, contained one anonymous memo contradicting the rest and claiming he was connected to Al Qaeda. In January 2005, a federal judge singled out Kurnaz’s case as evidence of the lack of due process in the Guantanamo tribunals. The judge said that his tribunal had ignored exculpatory evidence and relied instead on the single anonymous memo that was not credible.

Murat Kurnaz has since been released and is attempting to sue the US government.

The National Journal articles:
http://nationaljournal.com/…/0203nj1.htm
http://nationaljournal.com/…/0203nj2.htm
http://nationaljournal.com/…/0203nj4.htm

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Written by mikk0

November 1, 2006 at 2:45 am

Posted in Guantanamo

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