Saturday, June 18, 2016

Gitmo Detainees at a Glance: The Numbers There Since

Cost Comparison Snapshot
(Federal Lockup vs. Gitmo)



1.  A total of 775 detainees have been brought to Guantanamo. Although most of these have been released without charge, we continue to classify many of those released detainees as “enemy combatants.” 

As of June 13, 2016, 80 detainees remained locked up at Guantanamo.

2.  In 2002, Camp Delta was opened to hold detainees swept up in the “War on Terror.”


Seems this scenario will play out until and through the November election, despite efforts by the Obama team to close Gitmo and shift detainee trials to Federal jurisdiction and close that chapter that still stains our entire system.


Myth: Terrorists have traditionally been tried in military commissions.

FactFederal civilian criminal courts have convicted more than 500 individuals on terrorism-related charges since 9/11Military commissions have convicted only eight, four of which have been overturned completely. Federal courts have convicted many high-profile terrorists, including “Shoe Bomber” Richard Reid, Ramzi Yousef (1993 World Trade Center bombing), Faisal Shahzad (Times Square bomber), and Sulaiman Abu Ghaith (Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law) in March 2014.

Myth: Military commissions are better equipped to handle terror cases.

Fact: Federal courts have more tools to try terrorists than military commissions. Federal courts, unlike military commissions, can try suspects for offenses involving fraud, immigration, firearms, and drugs. In addition, convictions for crimes of conspiracy and material support before a military commission, rather than a federal court, have been overturned on appeal because these crimes have not generally been considered war crimes. While Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, was convicted of terrorism-related offenses just over a year after he was captured, the military commission trial for the alleged 9/11 perpetrators has remained mired in pre-trial hearings since May 2012.

Myth: Federal prisons cannot safely detain terror suspects.

Fact: Federal prisons hold hundreds of individuals convicted of terrorism-related offenses. None have ever escaped. Guantanamo is also much more expensive than federal prisons, costing more than $5 million per prisoner annually, compared to less than $78,000 in a comparable maximum security federal prison.

Myth: Terrorism trials in federal court risk the safety of Americans.

Fact: None of the districts that have tried terrorism suspects have been attacked in response, and Guantanamo actually hinders counter-terrorism efforts. 

Myth: Terror suspects should be tried before military commissions because they do not deserve our regular courts.

Fact: Prosecuting terror suspects before military commissions makes them look like warriors rather than the criminals that they are. As Judge William Young said when sentencing Shoe Bomber Richard Reid, “You’re no warrior….You are a terrorist. A species of criminal guilty of multiple attempted murders.” 

More later I am sure.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Back in the Spotlight as Predicted: Will Justice Prevail or Be Swept Under a Rug

Jessen and Mitchell

Analysis Statement of Jessen and Mitchell Credentials

Updated (April 24, 2016) of the following, which was posted earlier:

The heart of the lawsuit by former detainees against the two phony CIA program designers, Jessen and Mitchell, is expressed in simple terms from this updated source link.  

First of all, this is the first time a case about the CIA’s use of torture has gotten is far in any American court. A big reason for that is because it’s harder to argue that classified information was at risk, since much of it was declassified in the Senate Select Committee for Intelligence report on the CIA’s use of torture, over 500 pages of which was released in December 2014.

That report confirmed that under former President George W. Bush, “... interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others at the time.”

The Senate report documented a variety of torture methods used on detainees: (1) waterboarding (which has been illegal, unlawful, and a war crime for decades); (2) sleep deprivation, (3) threats made against detainees families, (4) physical beatings, (5) rectal rehydration, (6) ice baths, (7) putting detainees in coffin-sized boxes (sometimes filled with creepy insects, and, (8) a few other horrifying abuses.

And, all done under the label of “national security to keep us safe in name of the American people.”

My simple retort to that weak-ass excuse is and has been along this, and excuse me for being so blunt:


I have written extensively on the issue of torture and this is a major update here regarding key previous posts about the two pictured above (Jessen and Mitchell). This story has this headline:

100 men who were tortured by the CIA are now suing the program’s (two) designers in Federal court…”

First, some key background info on Jessen and Mitchell here, here, here,  here, and here.

Whether this story goes any further than this headlines remains to be seen. If and when it does, I will provide updates.

For the first time since the US launched the so-called War on Terror, two former CIA contractors are in federal court.

Former Air Force Psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, who designed the CIA's torture program, are trying to get a judge to throw out the lawsuit filed on behalf of some of the men who were tortured.

More than 100 men say they were subjected to water boarding and beatings during interrogations in Afghanistan.

According to the 2014 US Senate Intelligence Committee report on the torture program, Mitchell and Jessen, neither of whom who had any experience in interrogations, were paid $81 million teach the CIA how to break the detainees during questioning.

The Senate Intelligence Committee torture report called the program “brutal, physically harmful, and not effective.”

More will be posted later as this story takes root, or not. That is to say it may not take root due to provisions already in place to give those two men cover that may be in the form of any contract between them and the CIA – i.e., gives them legal cover as it were if something like this ever were to come up and now it has.

For example, in a brief June 2009 e-mail exchange, Mitchell said his nondisclosure agreement with the CIA prevented him from commenting about the program details. He also suggested that his and Jessen’s work had been mischaracterized. Time will tell what happens next.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Close to Closing Gitmo: GOP Fears Federal Trials and Supermax Incarceration

Federal Prisons Across the Country
(Source is here. Click map for larger view)
[Resource: Federal Bureau of Prisons, Department of Justice]


(CNN) The United States is transferring nine detainees from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to Saudi Arabia, the Pentagon said recently (Saturday, April 16, 2016).

The transfer, which brings the number of prisoners remaining at Guantanamo to 80, comes amid President Obama's renewed effort to close the prison, a pledge he made early in his presidency. It also comes ahead of Obama's planned trip to Saudi Arabia next week.  

Ironically, most GOPers and a few DEMS, are still scared shitless about transferring the remaining (or any) detainees to Conus for Federal trial and confinement in Federal facilities or even Supermax prisons, which BTW currently hold several hundred already.  

The key question is simple: Why is the GOP so resistant to Federal trials which have been harsh on terrorists do date. It makes no sense, none whatsoever.  

Related background data also at this link with precise details on terrorists now incarcerated at Federal prisons.  

Bottom line: The GOP is stubborn and flat out wrong on this issue of closure. The record of trusting the Federal court system is rock solid. 

Stay tuned.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Trump and Cruz on Torture: Novices Who Want the U.S. to Be Just Like ISIS

Cruz and Trump: Maniacs Я Us

Updated (April 11, 2016):
Donald Trump back on same subject but now with some sort of crazy-ass vengeance aimed at the Director of the CIA, John Brennan, and saying: “The CIA director is ridiculous on waterboarding.”
Donald Trump took on Brennan on torture after Brennan said on NBC News Sunday (April 10, 2016) that he would not allow enhanced interrogation tactics, including waterboarding, even if a future president ordered it.
Trump struck at Brennan saying: “I think his comments are ridiculous.” (Naturally Trump said that on FOX News Monday). “I mean, they chop off heads and they drown people in cages with 50 in a cage, in big, steel heavy cages, drop them right into the water drown people, and we can’t water-board and we can’t do anything. And you know we’re playing on different fields. And we have a huge problem with ISIS, which we can’t beat, and the reason we can’t beat them is we won’t use strong tactics, whether it’s this or other things.”
Reminder from previous post: Joe Navarro, one of the FBI’s top experts in questioning techniques, told The New Yorker: “Only a psychopath can torture and be unaffected. You don’t want people like that in your organization. They are untrustworthy, and tend to have grotesque other problems.”
Also, Trump and Cruz both spewed on this subject previously saying:   
TRUMP: “I’D DO WATERBOARDING AND MORE…” CRUZ: “WATERBOARDING IS NOT ILLEGAL.”
That view differs from UN Convention against torture, which was ratified by the U.S. in 1990. Here is their definition: “Torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession… when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public office or other person acting in an official capacity.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross and many others all contend that torture falls into the above definition without doubt.
Federal law (18 USC Section 2340) defines torture as something that is: “Specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering” — plus and the U.S. Constitution prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment.” 
Former Army JAG, Major General Thomas Romig said: “There is no way any competent and knowledgeable attorney can say that waterboarding is legal under the Geneva Conventions, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or the Convention Against Torture.” (Wall Street Journal in 2014 interview).
Cruz was obviously referring to the controversial 2002 document known as the “Bybee Memo” written by Jay S Bybee, who as the time was the head of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) under President George W. Bush. At the time, that memo advised the CIA and DOD that techniques such as “waterboarding” might be legally allowed under an interpretation of the president’s authority during war time. The memo said the only pain equal to that produced by organ failure or death qualified as torture.  But it is worth noting that this definition has since been widely criticized and subsequently disavowed.
Jack Goldsmith, who served as head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in 2003 to 2004 (under Bush), put a temporary halt to the use of waterboarding as a technique after he raised questions about this type of interrogation and the law.
Let me be clear on this point:Waterboarding is often described as a simulated drowning or a technique to convince the detainee or prisoner that he or she is drowning.” There is no way to simulate the lungs filling with water without water entering the lungs to start the actual drowning.
Views in favor of accepting torture in emergencies: Alan Dershowitz, a prominent American defense attorney, surprised some observers by giving limited support to the idea that torture could be justified. He argued that human nature can lead to unregulated abuse “off the books.” Therefore, it would be better if there were a regulated procedure through which an interrogator could request a “torture warrant and that requiring a warrant would establish a paper trail of accountability.”
Torturers, and those who authorize torture, could be held to account for excesses. Dershowitz's suggested torture warrants, similar to search warrants and phone tap warrants, would spell out the limits on the techniques that interrogators may use, and the extent to which they may abridge a suspect's rights. In September 2002, when reviewing Alan Dershowitz's book, Why Terrorism Works: Understanding the Threat, Responding to the Challenge, Richard Posner, legal scholar and judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, wrote in The New Republic: 
“If torture is the only means of obtaining the information necessary to prevent the detonation of a nuclear bomb in Times Square, torture should be used--and will be used--to obtain the information.... No one who doubts that this is the case should be in a position of responsibility.”
Views in favor of torturing the relatives of suspects: In February 2010 Bruce Anderson wrote a column for The Independent, arguing that the British government would have not just the right, but the duty, to torture if there was a ticking bomb, and that they should torture the relatives of suspects if they believed that doing so would yield information that would avert a terrorist attack: “It came, in the form of a devilish intellectual challenge: Let's take your hypothesis a bit further. We have captured a terrorist, but he is a hardened character. We cannot be certain that he will crack in time. We have also captured his wife and children. So, we torture the wife and children.”
Views rejecting torture under all circumstances: Some human rights organizations, professional and academic experts, and military and intelligence leaders have absolutely rejected the idea that torture is ever legal or acceptable, even in a so-called ticking bomb situation. They have expressed grave concern about the way the dramatic force and artificially simple moral answers the ticking bomb thought-experiment seems to offer, have manipulated and distorted the legal and moral perceptions, reasoning and judgment of both the general population and military and law enforcement officials. 
They reject the proposition, implicit or explicit, that certain acts of torture are justifiable, even desirable. They believe that simplistic responses to the scenario may lead well-intentioned societies down a slippery slope to legalized and systematic torture. They point out that no evidence of any real-life situation meeting all the criteria to constitute a pure ticking bomb scenario has ever been presented to the public, and that such a situation is highly unlikely.
As well, torture can be criticized as a poor vehicle for discovering truth, as people experiencing torture, once broken, are liable to make anything up in order to stop the pain and can become unable to tell the difference between fact and fiction under intense psychological pressure. Additionally, since the terrorist presumably knows that the timer is ticking, he has an excellent reason to lie and give false information under torture in order to misdirect his interrogators; merely giving a convincing answer which the investigators will waste time checking out makes it more likely that the bomb will go off, and of course once the bomb has gone off, not only has the terrorist won, but there is also no further point in torturing him, except perhaps as revenge.
Others point out that the ticking-bomb torture proponents adopt an extremely short-term view, which impoverishes their consequentialism. Using torture — or even declaring that one is prepared to accept its use — makes other groups of people much more likely to use torture themselves in the long run. The consequence is likely to be a long-term increase in violence.
This long-term effect is so serious that the person making the torture decision cannot possibly (according to this argument) make a reasonable estimate of its results.
Thus the decision-maker has no grounds for certainty that the value of the lives saved from the ticking bomb will outweigh the value of the lives lost because of the subsequent disorder. He or she cannot arrive at a successful accounting of consequences.
Thanks for stopping by. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Trump New Reality Show “Competition for Torture: to Inflict Pain and Agony”

Trump View of Torture (and Outcome)
(He never broke and never revealed info)

GOP's Favorite All-time Hero
(his view on torture)

Donald J. Trump is moving so fast and changing so quickly on this topic that’s it hard to keep up … so, here we are again with another update on his stance and views about torture.

But, first I present Trump in this short clip from “Face the Nation.” More details follow the clip. This an extremely important topic – torture of war detainees – for any candidate for President to tackle the way Trump has in the past, then he flip-flopped, and now, as seen this clip, he once again reverses course back to his original position. Watch it if you didn’t catch it on the live broadcast. It is about 11 minutes long.



Background: Trump said late last year on Fox to Sean Hannity and just recently reinforced his views that he would order and allow killing suspected terrorist family members and also have our Armed forces use torture like waterboarding and in fact that waterboarding was not torture in his view, etc.

Now this latest from him – his first backpedaling (my emphasis):

“I will use every legal power that I have to stop these terrorist enemies. I do, however, understand that the United States is bound by laws and treaties and I will not order our military or other officials to violate those laws and will seek their advice on such matters. I will not order a military officer to disobey the law. It is clear that as president I will be bound by laws just like all Americans and I will meet those responsibilities.”

As seen in the “Face the Nation” clip, he once again reverses course by saying he if is elected president, he would “strengthen laws to allow for the use of torture.”  As noted in the interview, Trump for the third time states his view on torture. Here are his own words from that show in part on this subject that I want to emphasize:

“We have an enemy in the Middle East that's chopping off heads and drowning people in massive steel cages. We have an enemy that doesn't play by the laws. You could say laws, and they're laughing. They're laughing at us right now. I would like to strengthen the laws so that we can better compete. You know, it's very tough to beat enemies that don't have any, that don't have any restrictions, all right? We have these massive restrictions. Now, I will always abide by the law, but I would like to have the law expanded. I happen to think that when you're fighting an enemy that chops off heads, I happen to think that we should use something that's stronger than we have right now. Right now, basically, waterboarding is essentially not allowed, as I understand it. ... I would certainly like it to be, at a minimum, at a minimum to allow that.”

[Trump discounted the argument that if the U.S. military used waterboarding, captured American soldiers and hostages could be subjected to worse treatment]. 

Trump continued: “They're doing that anyway. They're killing our soldiers when they capture 'em. I mean, they're doing that anyway. Now, if that were the case - in other words, we won't do it and you don't do it, but we're not playing by those rules. What, did somebody tell ISIS, “Look, we're going to treat your guys well; will you please do us a favor and treat our guys well?” They don't do that. We're not playing by - we are playing by rules but they have no rules. It's very hard to win when that's the case.”

Host Dickerson asked if rules are what “separates us from the savages,”

Trump said he didn't think so, adding “We have to beat the savages.” Dickerson then asked if that would require us throwing all the rules out.

Then Trump showed his true colors: “You have to play the game the way they're playing the game. You're not going to win if we're soft and they are not; they have no rules. Now, I want to stay within the laws, I want to do all of that, but I think we have to increase the laws.”

So, he would get laws in place that puts us on par with those we are fighting to “compete” like in a new business deal selling sneakers, or deal for another high-rise building, or getting permission to build a new casino in Nevada or off-shore?

All I can say is this insane talk from an insane man who wants to be President and do insane things.

Related here (General Officer rebuke), and here (Sen. John McCain).

That’s all I say at this time – more later, I am sure.



Sunday, March 6, 2016

Major Update: Trump Backpedals on Waterboarding and Torture

Just Like Donald J. Trump: After he is held to account

Waterboarding is Torture by All Measurements
(Trump and others don't seem to think so)

The Man Who Ordered the CIA Torture Tapes Destroyed


Original post follows this major update: 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump has retreated from his promise that if elected president he would order the military to kill family members of militants who threaten the United States.
His campaign issued a statement quoting him as saying he would not order the military to take actions contrary to international or U.S. law.
Just 24 hours earlier, in the last GOP debate, Trump stuck to his position on targeting family members of militants and on an expansive use of torture against captured militants. When a debate moderator asked him what he would do if the military refused to carry out such orders, Trump replied: “They're not going to refuse me. Believe me.”
These points, it seems must be reinforced time and time again and then again for the Trump types:
(1) The use of torture and the killing of civilians are barred by the Geneva Conventions, to which the United States is a signatory.
(2)  Congress outlawed waterboarding and the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” after the Bush team carried out such acts against suspected al-Qaeda detainees and others in U.S. custody.
(3)  Members of our military are bound by duty and tradition to refuse orders they know or believe to be illegal. This includes intentionally targeting civilian noncombatants.
This aspect of the issue drew additional attention recently when more than 100 Republican defense and national security figures, including former senior Pentagon officials, issued a written statement blasting Trump's foreign policy positions and calling his embrace of the expansive use of torture “inexcusable.”
Defining when aggressive interrogation techniques such as waterboarding amount to torture has been a matter of divided debate, but Trump had made clear that as president he would not hesitate to go beyond waterboarding, saying in part: “We should go for waterboarding and we should go tougher than waterboarding.”
(I interject at this point once again as I have stated before: Waterboarding is torture and torture is illegal, unlawful, a war crime, and has been for decades. It is useless and ineffective).
Trump had also defended his position on targeting the family of militants, which he first raised during a “FOX and Friends” interview last December, saying among other things:
“The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families. When you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don't kid yourself. When they say they don't care about their lives, you have to take out their families.”
Now, however, Trump has now reversed course now saying this as the article states (Friday, March 4, 2016) – emphasis added:
“I will use every legal power that I have to stop these terrorist enemies. I do, however, understand that the United States is bound by laws and treaties and I will not order our military or other officials to violate those laws and will seek their advice on such matters. I will not order a military officer to disobey the law. It is clear that as president I will be bound by laws just like all Americans and I will meet those responsibilities.”
Wow – another turnaround and about face from this phony man – a man who will do, say, pay, try, lie, imply, or deny anything to win this election. In my humble view – that must never happen.

Original Post from Here:

Introduction:  Mr. Rodriquez failed mention that technique was used on our troops to demonstrate and show them how it feels and to teach them as much as possible how to resist interrogation as part of their SERE trainingThe “R” stands for resistance as part of the SERE acronym. I know. I used to teach our Marines that part.

The use of waterboarding, called “enhanced interrogation technique” by the Bush Administration that was the center of a national firestorm in 2007 when they were accused of using it – which by all standards is torture and is illegal, unlawful, and a war crime in international and U.S. legal circles and has been for decades – not counting it is downright inhumane and ineffective as a tool to gather actionable, let alone valuable information … it has one purpose as torture always does: to inflict pain and get a confession, which in 99.9% of the time is false and used to stop the torture. Ask any professional.  

Just don’t ask prospective GOP nominee Donald J. Trump. He did not flinch in a response to a question during a GOP debate recently whether he would use it or not. He told the moderator, David Muir, that he would not only use it, but “would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” He even said it was “minimal torture.” Minimal – like being almost pregnant I guess? Torture is torture, Mr. Trump and for you say you would commit a war crime in advance is the same as admitting to any premeditated crime.  

Later during his interview on Meet the Press the very next day Trump went on to explain why, adding: “I would be very much in favor of going beyond waterboarding. And believe me, in terms of getting information, it works.”

So, how do we spell utter nonsense bullshit in this election cycle? Oh, that’s easy. It’s spelled: “Donald J. Trump.”

Then standing with him on the debate platform, Sen. Rafael Edward “Ted” chimed and said he would use it more sparingly, and then noted that waterboarding “is vigorous interrogation, but it does not meet the generally recognized definition of torture.”

So, are Trump and Cruz and any others who think that same way on this issue right or wrong on this question: “Are enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding legal, necessary, and effective in protecting American citizens from future terror attacks?”

In three words: “No; Hell no; and, “Jose, no way in Hell, no.” (Actually that more than three words).


Some of it I have posted many times (see below) and always with the same simple message: “Waterboarding is torture. Torture is illegal, unlawful, and a war crime, and it is ineffective and does not work.” Case closed.

Now someone tell Mr. Trump and those who believe that same crap with him.

The mere thought of having Trump or any other person who in advance gives us notice that he or she would be a war criminal in the Oval Office is mind boggling. I shudder to even ponder that prospect. What about you?

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

GOP Candidates Advocate Return to Waterboarding and Torture If Elected

GOP Candidates Love Torture (and yes, Waterboarding is torture)



A major update (follows this review) on the subject of torture, which has now entered smack dab in the middle of this presidential race in a big way.

TRUMP SAYS “I WOULD DO WATERBOARDING AND MUCH MORE.”


Trump precisely said in a speech on February 19, 2016, just a few days before the SC primary, reiterating his support for waterboarding — a tactic many Republican candidates also have vowed to bring back. 

Trump stated his position and asked about that subject this way: “Is it torture or not? It’s so borderline. It’s like minimal, minimal, minimal torture.”

Further, Ted Cruz is not the only GOP candidate who believes that waterboarding isn’t torture, so does Marco Rubio. Here is Cruz’s claim – let’s take a look here UN Convention Against Torture, which BTW was ratified by the U.S. in 1990.

Here is this the actual definition: “Torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession… when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public office or other person acting in an official capacity.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross and many others all contend that torture falls into the above definition without doubt.

Plus, Federal law (18 USC Section 2340) defines torture as something that is: “Specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering” — plus and the U.S. Constitution prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Former Army JAG, Major General Thomas Romig said: “There is no way any competent and knowledgeable attorney can say that waterboarding is legal under the Geneva Conventions, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or the Convention Against Torture.” (Wall Street Journal in 2014 interview).

Cruz was obviously referring to the controversial 2002 document known as the “Bybee Memo” written by Jay S Bybee, who as the time was the head of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) under President George W. Bush. At the time, that memo advised the CIA and DOD that techniques such as “waterboarding” might be legally allowed under an interpretation of the president’s authority during war time. The memo said the only pain equal to that produced by organ failure or death qualified as torture.  But it is worth noting that this definition has since been widely criticized and subsequently disavowed.

Jack Goldsmith, who served as head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in 2003 to 2004 (under Bush), put a temporary halt to the use of waterboarding as a technique after he raised questions about this type of interrogation and the law.

Let’s be clear on this point: “Waterboarding is often described as a simulated drowning or a technique to convince the detainee or prisoner that he or she is drowning.”

There is no way to simulate drowning when the lungs fill with water without the water entering the lungs to start and complete actual drowning. It is by any definition torture, which I have said for years: Waterboarding is torture and torture is illegal, unlawful, and a war crime and has been decades.

The Update

Nineteen retired generals and admirals who support Hillary Clinton’s campaign have signed a blistering condemnation of Republican presidential candidates who support the use of interrogation tactics widely regarded as torture. 

The officers also scolded the GOP for opposing President Obama’s proposal to close the prison for suspected terrorists at Guantánamo Bay.

In a written statement, the Generals wrote: “The Republican candidates have turned this into a game to see who can seem toughest. Yet, how we combat our enemies and defeat ISIS is not a game, and these proposals would only make us weaker.”
  • On the campaign trail, Donald Trump has called with gusto for interrogating suspected terrorists with tactics widely regarded as torture, including but not limited to waterboarding.
  • Ted Cruz says waterboarding isn’t torture and has pushed for carpet-bombing cities held by the so-called Islamic State.
  • Marco Rubio has opposed legislation banning the use of torture.

In fact, all of the Republican presidential candidates oppose Obama’s plan to close the detention facility near Cuba’s southeastern tip.

In their statement the Generals call Guantánamo “one of the most powerful symbols for terrorist recruitment” adding that torture “abandons the principles that this country was founded on, compromises our position of leadership on the world stage, and puts our troops, front line civilians, and all Americans at risk.”

The Generals further said that Hillary Clinton “has consistently been on the right side of history on these issues both by supporting efforts to close the prison and by asserting that torture does not work and defies our nation’s values and interests.”

Those General Officers are 100% correct but watch the GOP try to make hay out of them supporting Hillary Clinton, even though in fact she is correct and the GOPers are flat out wrong … the Generals are on the right side of the issue and would I am sure support any candidate who shared their views on torture and closure of Gitmo. That is reality; not politics.

My best advice to anyone who holds the Trump, Cruz, and Rubio view that favors torture and waterboarding, please do me a huge favor and STFU. Thanks in advance.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

President Obama Announces Plan to Close Gitmo Ready for Congress to Act

Time to Close and Let the Sun Set on Gitmo


Major update: (Tuesday, February 23, 2016 – the White House) President announced plan to close Gitmo for submission to Congress that I posted about yesterday. It was live on NBC News today.

As for me, there is not one single word the President spoke that I disagree with – he was as they say “spot-on.”  Below several key point he highlighted are listed that I walked away, but first this short reminder related to Federal trials vs. Military Tribunals that he also addressed:

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in November 2010, former AG Eric Holder said, “There are more than 300 convicted international and domestic terrorists currently in Bureau of Prisons custody.”

Republicans jumped all over that and have attacked that number since as inaccurate. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, called the 300 figure “unsubstantiated.” Former President Bush's former press secretary, Dana Perino, said the statistic is as “false as false gets.”

But the number actually comes from a Bush administration document. In 2008, the Justice Department submitted a budget request citing “319 convictions or guilty pleas in terrorism or terrorism-related cases arising from investigations conducted primarily after September 11, 2001.”

Then the NYU Center on Law and Security conducted its own comprehensive study and came up with this in their report saying: “If you had every single terrorism-related prosecution since 9/11 and you wanted to know the convictions, there would be 523” (said the center's director, Karen Greenberg). Also, this related from Human Rights Watch here.

Mr. Obama mentioned those in Federal max prisons adding, “They are there because we threw the book at them.” (Meaning they got the max by law). 

Mr. Obama emphasized key points of the plan to close the facility (I paraphrase):

#1:  To maintain our safety and security here at home.
#2:  To protect and defend our American values and principles justice.
#3:  To save lots of money by closing Gitmo.
#4:  And, to put the United States back in good standing with our friends and allies on this subject all around the world.
#5:  And, it takes away a terrorist propaganda tool by showing everyone the United States is a decent and just nation who deals in fairness and legal justice.

Now, President Obama making the Gitmo closure plan announcement:


Thanks for stopping by and more on this subject is posted below.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Roadblock to Closing Gitmo: GOP-led United States Congress and No One Else

Will the Sun Ever Set on Gitmo
(highly unlikely with GOP-led Congress)

So, How's the Military Tribunal Thingy Working Out
(In a word: not so hot)

Call this a reflection on the issue of closure of Gitmo detainee center, Cuba and President Obama (2008) pledge to close it and how it stands today based on this article from The Hill – with this short intro:

The Pentagon is poised to submit a plan to Congress for closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, a spokesman said today (Monday, February 22, 2016).

Navy Captain Jeff Davis said the administration will meet the Tuesday (February 23rd) deadline for submitting a proposal for closing the facility and moving its terrorist detainees, saying: “We understand that the deadline is tomorrow, and it's our intent to meet it [it, the plan] … will call for the closure of the detention facility and lay out several options on how to do so.”

President Obama is pushing to close the prison and fulfill a long-standing campaign promise before leaving office. Currently, there are 91 detainees remaining at the prison; several awaiting Military Tribunal trials.

The sticking point as in the past is this:

“Current law prohibits the use of funds … to transfer, release or assist in the transfer or release of detainees of Guantanamo Bay to or within the United States, and prohibits the construction, modification or acquisition of any facility within the United States to house any Guantanamo detainee.”

Therefore, the Pentagon Joint Staff cannot not take any action contrary to those Congressional restrictions. In short, the next step is up to Congress (how about a great big ha ha ha)…

Let’s review the background on the processing of detainees whether release with no charges or trials there Military Tribunal vs. Federal Trial:

Republicans have again voted against closing the prison at Gitmo by prohibiting the transfer of detainees to mainland American soil for Federal trials and along the way they also voted to affirm the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), in effect since 2001.

Amendments over the years would have ended the AUMF, but it is always defeated, thus stopping Mr. Obama from closing Gitmo.

The 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) marks the 5th year in a row that Congress has blocked the President’s goals of fulfilling his pledge to close Gitmo. The congress will not end the “War on Terror.”

NYU’s Center on Law and Security released a terror trial "report card" covering the years 2001 to 2009 that claims there have been 337 federal terror cases, though each case can involve multiple defendants charged with multiple crimes. 

Then in March 2010, in response to questions from Congress about the numbers, the DOJ released its own report listing 403 individuals convicted of terror-related charges in 37 different states (including DC).

In December 2011, the group Human Rights First cited new DOJ figures to that put that updated number at 494, including 67 cases where the suspect was arrested outside the United States.

This Associated Press report from 2011 says the number of convictions in the U.S. is more than 2,500, though they are obviously using a much broader definition of "terror" than the feds do.

Military tribunals and detainees tried, convicted, released, etc., since 2001:

1.  Seven have been tried and convicted (3 are in prison, 2 had convictions overturned and they were released, and 2 were deported back to their native countries).

2.  Six still await trial including KSM and 5 others related to the 9/11 attack.

Related:

FYI - Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, New York University's Center on Law and Security reports that 578 terrorism-related cases, "inspired by Jihadist ideas," have been prosecuted in US federal courts (FACTS AND FIGURES: 2001-2011).

During that same period the military commissions in Guantanamo have completed only seven cases.

Now just imagine if North Vietnam had played by current GOP rules regarding prisoner swaps with our POW’s? Think seriously hard about that question.  Then ask Senator John McCain.


The Detainees:

Total number of detainees ever incarcerated at Guantánamo: 779
Detainees released under President Bush: over 500
Detainees at start of Obama Presidency: 242
Number of 242 detainees approved for release: 126
Detainees transferred, repatriated or resettled under Obama: 72
Detainees transferred to US for prosecution: 1
Detainees who died in custody since January 2009: 4
Detainees currently held at Guantánamo: 166
Remaining detainees approved for release: 86
Detainees convicted by military commission before 2009 and still held at Guantánamo: 1
Detainees Obama designated for trial or commission including those tried since January 2009: 36
Detainees Obama designated for indefinite detention without charge or trial: 46
Yemenis not included in above totals under conditional detention: 30
Number of countries that have accepted Guantánamo detainees: 52

Financial Costs:

Yearly cost to U.S. taxpayers of a federal prisoner: $25,000
Yearly cost to hold each captive at Guantánamo instead of federal prison: $800,000
Annual cost to operate Guantánamo: Approximately $150 million

Federal Courts vs. Challenges to Military Commissions:

 Federal court convictions since 9/11 on terrorism-related charges: Nearly 500
 Detainees convicted by GTMO military commission: 7
 Detainees prosecuted in U.S. federal courts: 1 -- Ahmed Ghailani
 Detainees federal courts have determined were being held unlawfully: 38
 Detainees who have lost their habeas corpus petitions challenging their detention: 21
 Times military commissions have been re-vamped: 3
 Cases involving detainee rights that have gone before the U.S. Supreme Court: 4
 Times Supreme Court Justices have sided with the detainees: 4

Federal Prisons Holding Terrorists:

  Convicted of terrorism-related charges being held in U.S. prisons: 355
  Convicted of terrorism and escaped from any federal prison system: 0

Deaths in Custody: Detainees who have died at Guantánamo: 9

Tidbits:

 First detainees brought to Guantánamo: January 11, 2002
 Last known arrival: March 14, 2008
 Last known departure: September 29, 2012
 Military commissions first established: November 13, 2001
 Bounties paid by Bush for handing over terror suspect: $3,000 to $25,000

As Yogi Berra was fond to say, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” So, stay tuned, but sadly with all these years having passed since 2001 and all the data and pages to date on this matter, well …  it all makes it hard to proceed in any fashion to either (1) get justice for the real criminals in custody, and/or (2) appease the GOP at the same time, who quite frankly have but one view: “Keep ‘em locked up and throw away the damn key.”

Thanks for stopping by – come again.