Archive for February, 2009

Attorney General Eric Holder to Visit Guantanamo

February 20, 2009

Attorney General Eric Holder is scheduled to make a “fact finding” trip to Guantanamo next week. It will be the AG’s first visit to the detention facility. He has dispatched an advance team from Department of Justice to precede him.

While Holder has been cautious in the past about blanket condemnation of detention of enemy combatants, he has been a critic of Guantanamo. By comments he made at his Senate confirmation hearings it can be inferred that he believes that detainees have been tortured in the past.

He properly condemned torture, but expanded the definition considerably in his statements.

Holder travels with baggage. His previous employer was the DC law firm of Covington & Burling, where he was compensated at approximately $2 million annually. As a partner he had a voice in any charity work the firm did. C&B is proud of the pro bono work it has done – and continues to do – defending Guantanamo detainees in US courts.

Conflict of interest? You decide.

Having recently accused Americans as being a “nation of cowards,” it will be interesting to hear what he says upon return.

Will he truthfully – and courageously – report a totally transparent interrogation/detention facility with extraordinarily safe and humane care given to detainees? Or will he slip into political mode?

We must wait and see.

Worse Than Gitmo? Mainstream Lingo Ignores Reality

February 18, 2009

Attorney for former Border Patrolman Ignacio Ramos, freed finally after what CNN’s Lou Dobbs correctly calls “a huge miscarriage of justice,” noted on the latter’s evening news show that Ramos had been held in conditions “worse than the foreign detainees in Gitmo.”

Correct as it stands, but for the wrong reasons.

As does much of the American public, the attorney assumes that conditions in Guantanamo are so awful that when uses them as a comparable, people will recoil in horror.

In fact, conditions in Guantanamo – as readers of Inside Gitmo and this web site are aware – are much better than those found in any American prison.

Yet Ramos’ attorney crafted his quote on an entirely different premise: That mere mention of Gitmo would invoke visions of torture and human rights abuses done to his client.

Dispelling the notion of Gitmo as an American version of Devil’s Island is a necessary part of public education if any move to keep the facility open can ever gain traction.

The detainees at Guantanamo are confined, but in circumstances that could be favorably compared to any facility in the world. Health and food standards, daily living conditions, and overall treatment – including legal representation – exceed that found in any other maximum security prison.

If you have not done so already, you need to be aware of all of the facts about this complex issue. Now that the stimulus is passed and the news cycle is going to shift back to Guantanamo the public must have facts to back up our opinions.

You can find all you need to know Inside Gitmo.

Guantanamo Book – Lucky Timing?

February 16, 2009

Many people I meet these days comment on how fortunate I’ve been with the release of Inside Gitmo. “Wow,” they’ll say, “you couldn’t have asked for better timing. You were lucky!”

That’s true. By making closing of Guantanamo his first official act, President Obama called attention to it in a way that provoked pubic interest, concern, and discussion.

Another way of looking at it is the Chinese way: Luck is a combination of preparation and opportunity. It took more than 3 1/2 years of tough research and thousands of hours to write and revise the book through a strenuous editorial and publication process till it was ready for release.

I cannot tell you how many times during that process Rudy, Avery, or someone on the Inside Gitmo team would say, “Damn, if we only had the book out now! What great timing that would be.”

Yet it turned out that none of those occasions was as propitious as this one.

So perhaps the universe does move in mysterious ways and stars do align. In this instance, now that the furor over the economic stimulus package is passing and debates and news cycles are shifting, it is time we look to what is happening almost beneath our noses as preparations for moving, relocating, or releasing Gitmo detainees is being made.

All citizens need to get themselves informed and weigh in on this issue while we still are able. We watched as the economic legislation was rammed through before lawmakers could even read what the billions of dollars they were spending was going for.

We can’t let that happen with Gitmo! We are not responsible citizens if we allow resolution of Guantanamo to take place – perhaps to our detriment -without joining the discussion.

Get ready to join the debate, let your voice be heard, and make your ideas known.

Order your copy of Inside Gitmo from the web site today and send copies to your concerned friends. Join the discussion group on the site, speak out and speak up to your elected officials.

We can’t be railroaded into silence on Guantanamo. We collectively will have to make our own luck with this issue, it won’t happen for us unless we act.

Guantanamo Detainee Binyam Mohamad Set for Release

February 15, 2009

Detainee Binyam Mohamad, whose full profile is highlighted in Inside Gitmo, is, according to an article in UK Guardian, “well enough to return if Obama review clears him for release.”

Good news for anti-Guantanamo activists in the UK and elsewhere; bad news for proponents of justice.

“Binyam,” as his military attorney Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Yvonne Bradley calls him, is not the “baby-faced innocent” that she defends but a stone-cold al Qaeda operative who according to government charge sheets worked on constructing dirty bombs (nuclear tainted explosives) for use in the United States.

Bradley’s behavior is subject of an on-going discussion within the Inside Gitmo discussion group. You may want to join and participate in this meaningful exhange of ideas.

As part of his “smart diplomacy” and outreach to European countries, we can be assured that Mohamad’s release is a certainty in these new times.

Is this going to be the “solution” that the Obama administration has toward closing Guantanamo? Simply drop charges against some of the most dangerous terrorists in the world so that they can be released back into society. Unfortunately t appears that way in these early stages.

Close Guantanamo? President Obama Recognizes Dilemma

February 3, 2009

In an NBC News interview, President Obama spoke of the problems he is rapidly recognizing are associated with a quick pledge to close Guantanamo.

1. He thinks that by closing Guantanamo it will raise the moral stature of the US by telling the world that we are somehow playing by agreed rules. “What I can guarantee,” Obama said, “is that if we don’t uphold our Constitution and our values, that over time that will make us less safe. And that will be a recruitment tool for organizations like al-Qaeda.”

This may be arguable. Interrogations at Guantanamo and elsewhere reveal that most jihadists see the way we confine them at Guantanamo as reflecting America’s weak side – we take too good care of them. Further they say that they respond more enthusiastically to brutal videos such as that of Khalid Sheik Mohammad beheading Danny Pearl than to any perceived outrage over Gitmo.

Most of the anti-Guantanamo furor emerges from the European community and American activists who routinely condemn America’s handling of detainees and will be satisfied only with outright release.

2. Obama does recognize the nefarious character of some of the men confined at Guantanamo. “Is [closing Gitmo] going to be easy?” Obama asked in the interview. “No, because we’ve got a couple hundred of hard-core militants that, unfortunately, because of … some problems that we had previously in gathering evidence, we may not be able to try in ordinary courts but we don’t want to release.”

In other words, it hurts our public relations image to maintain Guantanamo, but freeing the detainees will pose a genuine danger to the American public and military service members.

Seems a simple choice to me, but at least the new president has given himself at least a year to sort out his decision.

What do you think? Learn the facts from Inside Gitmo.

Bring Gitmo Detainees to US? Fox Poll Draws Stunning Response

February 1, 2009

A Fox News Channel poll started January 22 headlined: YOU DECIDE: Would you want prisoners from Guantanamo housed in your state or town? Share your thoughts? Click on “Leave a Comment” below.

By Sunday evening Feb. 1, the poll had more than 8,000 respondents, the vast majority of whom expressed rejection if not extreme hostility at the idea.

A smaller minority foresees no problem with relocating Gitmo detainees here to US soil.

Want to get smart about these issues? Read Inside Gitmo for all the background you’ll need to decide for yourself about this urgent issue.