Friday, March 03, 2006

NYT: "Guantanamo Detainee Seeks Court Action" (Neil A. Lewis)

A prisoner at the American-run detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who says he was tortured when the authorities subjected him to force-feeding in a restraining chair to break his hunger strike, asked a federal district judge Thursday to intervene in his case.
[. . .]
Moreover, government lawyers suggested that the judge, Gladys Kessler, refrain from ruling on the case until higher courts resolved whether a recently enacted law stripped district judges of the power to hear such cases.
The Bawazir case is the latest court test of the law, which Congress enacted late last year and which says district courts may not entertain habeas corpus cases from Guantanamo inmates challenging their detentions. Under the law, the federal appeals courts may review tribunals conducted by the military.
The government said the law, the Detainee Treatment Act, which was enacted after much debate, barred Mr. Bawazir's suit. It is making that same argument in separate cases before all three levels of the federal judiciary: the Supreme Court, the appeals court and various district courts. The argument is largely over whether the law applies retroactively to detainees, like Mr. Bawazir, who were already in custody when the law was enacted.

"Much debate?" Who is Neil A. Lewis kidding with "Guantanamo Detainee Seeks Court Action" in this morning's New York Times? (Ben noted the Lewis article, by the way.) Little debate or attention was given to the Graham - Levin bill then or since. Instead, it was pat John McCain on the back for his (toothless) "Torture ban" (Detainee Treatment Act). Remember, Bully Boy signed the Detainee Treatment Act into law -- or "law" since he then issued a signing statement (via e-mail, no less) saying basically, "I am's what I am and what I's am is a Bully Boy so I'll do what I want."

That's the administration for you. Martha notes Josh White and Carol D. Leonnig's "U.S. Cites Exception in Torture Ban: McCain Law May Not Apply to Cuba Prison" (Washington Post):

Bush administration lawyers, fighting a claim of torture by a Guantanamo Bay detainee, yesterday argued that the new law that bans cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody does not apply to people held at the military prison.
In federal court yesterday and in legal filings, Justice Department lawyers contended that a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, cannot use legislation drafted by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to challenge treatment that the detainee's lawyers described as "systematic torture."

[. . .]
Richard Murphy Jr., Bawazir's attorney, said his client gave in to the new techniques and began eating solid food days after the first use of the restraint chair. Murphy said the military deliberately made the process painful and embarrassing, noting that Bawazir soiled himself because of the approach.

From Pete Yost's "Judge Weighs Force-Feeding Tactic at Gitmo" (Associated Press, via Washington Post, noted by Martha):

After the hearing, Bawazir's lawyer, John Chandler, said, "We believe the use of restraining chairs which are only supposed to be used for detainees who are violent and dangerous to others or actively dangerous to themselves is a violation of the McCain Amendment."

Noted since the Times is unable to name a defense lawyer or apparently speak to one.

Michael Ratner's "Tomorrow is Today: the Time for Resistance is Now" (CounterPunch):

I have to tell you I've have never in my life been kicked in the teeth as badly as I was on the Guantánamo cases when we were forced to take that issue to the Democrats in Washington. Now I'm just going say it here, there are a million reasons I can tell you don't go to Washington and the Democrats, but this one is called the Graham-Levin Bill. After we win the right to go court for the detainees at Guantánamo, and we win that in the Supreme Court, Republican Senator Graham and Democrat Senator Levin get together - and what do they decide to do a few weeks ago? But strip the courts of any jurisdiction to hear the Guantánamo cases. That's what they do - Democrats and Republicans together. And then they say you can use evidence from torture to keep those people in jail. Kicking us right in the teeth! Kicking the courts in the teeth. And sentencing the Guantanamo detainees to years more of Hell. And so if you think that we're going to get far by going there--to the Democrats, you've got it wrong. Lessons of history teach us that we don't move our leaders without the passion and the protest of the people.

Ratner's the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights and they have a summary online entitled "First Violation of McCain Torture Amendment Alleged in Emergency Injunction: Attorneys File to End Further Torture of Guantánamo Detainee on Hunger Strike" (link takes you to synopsis but full report is also avaible there, full report in PDF format):

On February 27, 2006, The first violation of the McCain torture amendment was alleged in federal court in an emergency injunction to end further torture of Guantánamo detainees. The court made public an injunction filed by cooperating attorneys from Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan working with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which won the landmark Supreme Court case establishing the Guantánamo detainees' right to challenge their detention in U.S. court (Rasul v. Bush).
"If I were Senator John McCain, I would be the angriest man in America today." said Rick Murphy, a partner with Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan, which provides pro-bono counsel to detainee Mohammed Bawazir.
After being imprisoned without charges for over three years, Mr. Mohammad Bawazir began a hunger strike in August 2005. As recent news accounts have confirmed, military personnel responded with several actions designed to inflict pain, torture and punishment for the hunger strike. The cruel and inhumane treatment is detailed in today's filing, which alleges that the torture is a flagrant violation of both the McCain torture amendment, which became law as the Detainee Treatment Act, and the Constitution. The filing charges that Guantánamo personnel:
Forcibly strapped Mr. Bawazir into a restraint chair, tying his legs, arms, head, and midsection to the chair.
Inserted of a feeding tube that was larger than the tube that had previously been left in Mr. Bawazir's nose, increasing the pain of the insertion and extraction.
Poured four bottles of water into his stomach through the nasal gastric tube every time he was fed even though Mr. Bawazir has never refused to drink water by mouth.
Restrained Mr. Bawazir in the chair for extended periods at each feeding.
Denied Mr. Bawazir access to a toilet while he was restrained and then for an additional hour or more after he was released from the chair.
Placed Mr. Bawazir in solitary confinement.
"Mere days after signing the McCain Amendment, the Bush Administration engaged in some of the most flagrant acts of torture that have occurred in Guantánamo. The horrific misuse of the emergency restraint chair and the medical abuses served no purpose other than to terrorize nonviolent prisoners into ending their hunger strik," said Gitanjali S. Gutierrez, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights. "Senator McCain led an important fight to ban torture, but will he stand up for it now that the Bush Administration is breaking the law?"
CCR and its cooperating attorneys will continue to challenge the torture, mistreatment and illegal detainment of the Guantánamo prisoners in federal court.

And West points out that you can call for a special prosecutor on the administration's use of torture by clicking here.

On Ratner, remember Ruth passed on this (it's today):

New Orleans 1973 to Guantánamo 2006
A discussion on torture at the hands of the United States government.
WHAT: New Yorkers Unite to Fight U.S. Torture from New Orleans to Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo
WHEN: March 3, 2006,
6:30 to 8:30 PM
WHERE: Riverside Church,
91 Claremont Ave.
Room 9T
(1 block west of Broadway)
Gita Gutierrez, CCR attorney representing Guantànamo detainees
John Bowman and Harold Taylor, Black Panthers tortured by New Orleans Law Enforcement in 1973
Henry "Hank" Jones, CDHR
Wayne Thompson, CDHR
Dr. Ron Daniels, Institute of the Black World 21st Century
Michael Ratner, CCR President
Bill Goodman, CCR Legal Director

Don't forget to listen, watch or read Democracy Now! today. Rod passes on this:

As Bush wraps up his three day visit to India, we got to New Delhi tospeak with famed Indian activist and author, Arundhati Roy.

Rod also notes this DN! announcement:

* New York City Supports Independent Media *
DATE: Sunday, March 5, 2006
Volunteers are organizing a benefit concert and educational event to show
New York City's support for Independent Media. The money raised will go to
Democracy Now!, which is an award-winning national, daily, and independent
news program airing on over 400 stations in North America.
The event will begin at 7:30pm at The Delancey, a bar at
168 Delancey Street at Clinton in the Lower East Side, on Sunday, March 5th,
Five bands will perform, representing all different genres
of music, and three speakers will address the issues
facing independent media today.
Organizations and media outlets are invited to bring
promotional and education material in order to set up an
information booth on the third floor of the Delancey,
where a dozen tables will be set up for participants.
There will be a $10 cover to see the bands in the
downstairs area, but the rest of the event is open to the
public, including the bar on the ground floor and the
enclosed roof deck upstairs.
If your organization, or an organization you are affiliated
with in some way, would like to set up a table upstairs,
please contact

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