24 September 2012

Death of a Guantanamo prisoner

Excerpts from a report at Salon:
Adnan Latif was found dead in his cell on September 10, 2012, just a day before the eleventh anniversary of 9/11. He was 32. Latif, a Yemeni citizen, had been detained at Guantanamo Bay for over a decade, despite a 2010 court ruling that ordered the Obama administration to “take all necessary and appropriate diplomatic steps to facilitate Latif’s release forthwith,” due to lack of evidence that he had committed any crime...

A car accident in 1994 left Latif with a head injury, which he was attempting to get treated in Afghanistan when he was captured near the border by Pakistani authorities. In January, 2002, he was sent to Guantanamo, with the unfortunate distinction of being one of the first detainees. According to the ACLU, Latif was cleared to be released in 2004, 2007, 2009, and again in 2010 by US District Court Judge Henry Kennedy. The Obama DOJ appealed the 2010 decision, in part because of a policy of not transferring detainees to Yemen, and so Latif remained in custody – not because of what he had done (which was nothing), but because of where he was born. The decision to appeal his release wasn’t a holdover from the Bush era. That was an affirmative decision made by the Obama administration, and any supporters who hoped Obama would close Guantanamo Bay should understand that fact.
And these observations from a column in The Guardian:
He is the ninth person to die at the camp since it was opened more than ten years ago. As former Gitmo guard Brandon Neely pointed out Monday, more detainees have died at the camp (nine) than have been convicted of wrongdoing by its military commissions (six)...

...  a camp spokesman acknowledged that he "had not been charged and had not been designated for prosecution". In other words, he has been kept by the US government in a cage for many years without any opportunity to contest the accusations against him, and had no hope of leaving the camp except by death...

Put another way, even if Congress had given Obama everything he wanted, the system that means that death is the only way out for many detainees would have been fully preserved. The excuse-making for Obama – "oh, he tried to close the camp but Congress would not let him" – is simply a deceitful tactic Democrats have concocted to justify their total silence about a grave injustice they once pretended to find so appalling and their raucous swooning for a president who supports it.
Last week I had a long conversation, with a friend I've known since childhood, about indefinite detention without trial of Guantanamo prisoners.  I told him I found the practice outrageous and reprehensible.  His reply was that the situation is different when you're dealing with terrorists rather than ordinary criminals, and that bringing these men to trial might reveal and jeopardize the sources of information that led to their apprehension, thereby endangering our country's security. 

I remain unconvinced.  In my view indefinite confinement without trial is equivalent to a nonjudicial declaration of guilt, and is a violation of basic human rights that apply as much to a terrorist as to any other human being.  If some reader here can give me a well-reasoned justification for the actions of the Obama administration, I'd appreciate it.


  1. It doesn't say how he died, yes it's sad he died in our custody, but for them to hold him there they must've had some sort of evidence against him, even if it were circumstantial. If I remember reading the news runners the other morning, one of the detainees that was released and sent back was part of the group that assassinated the American Ambassador in Libya. Just because they couldn't prove he was bad doesn't mean he wasn't bad. If you could go back in time and arrest Hitler and hold him indefinitely to save the millions he slaughtered, would you? Would you be justified in doing so? Whose to say that our Mr. Latif wasn't such a threat that they deemed him to be kept for as long as possible.
    America is crumbling, it's no longer the powerful nation it once was. We're more worried about the feelings of illegal immigrants, terrorists, and criminals than we are about our own well being. People need to start worrying about what's happening in their own backyards before they start rioting about some terrorist that died in custody. Me personally, think they should save the tax payers a lot of money and take all the detainees into a room and fill it full of water, or pigs blood, why give them their 70 virgins. I'm leaving America, moving to another country where the rules are in place and the people know the rules, and obey the rules. I won't wake up in the mornings and count the senseless killings that took place over night.

    1. "Just because they couldn't prove he was bad doesn't mean he wasn't bad."


      What country are you moving to, btw? Just asking.

    2. Have fun in your magical land of make believe. Or maybe Antarctica?

    3. Please don't come to my country.

    4. I believe the Kafkaesque reasoning was that if they weren't our enemy before, they probably are now, and would kill Americans if we let them go.

    5. If I'd been imprisoned without just cause for ten years, and then released to a country where the government had just been overthrown by the US, I'd probably be quite annoyed too...

  2. I'd be happy to vote for the major party candidate on Obama's left who would *really* close Guantanamo...

    1. I was hoping Obama would be that candidate in 2008, and I have been very disappointed. I refuse to vote for Romney since I trust he will be no better than Obama on this, and worse on other issues I care about. but I give Obama a failing grade on human rights because of this. Not that it seems to matter to most Americans these days.

    2. What's keep Obama from closing Gitmo? That pesky thing called Congress.

      "On January 7, 2011, President Obama signed the 2011 Defense Authorization Bill which contains provisions that place restrictions on the transfer of Guantánamo prisoners to the mainland or to other foreign countries, thus impeding the closure of the detention facility. He strongly objected to the clauses and stated that he would work with Congress to oppose the measures.

      "Obama said in a statement that the Guantanamo provisions were a dangerous and unprecedented challenge to executive branch authority, but that he was signing the bill because of its huge importance to military operations in 2011.

      "Nevertheless, my Administration will work with the Congress to seek repeal of these restrictions, will seek to mitigate their effects, and will oppose any attempt to extend or expand them in the future," the president's statement said."


  3. great article...i was hoping I'd see something about this here.

    There was a lot of discussion of this at My friend Red Dirt Girls site last week; Latif had apparently written a poem that was posted at Amnesty Intl. and at Poetry News.

    “Hunger Strike Poem”

    They are artists of torture,
    They are artists of pain and fatigue,
    They are artists of insults
    and humiliation.
    Where is the world to save us
    from torture?
    Where is the world to save us
    from the fire and sadness?
    Where is the world to save
    the hunger strikers?

  4. Many people forget that Obama was given the Nobel Peace Prize.
    I'm not so sure he deserves that honor.

    But I'll still vote for him, as the lesser of two evils. I, like Larry stated above, am disappointed.

    1. "But I'll still vote for him, as the lesser of two evils."
      Why don't people see that this thinking is erroneous? There are several parties and candidates--not just two--listed on the ballot. Why not take the time to investigate each candidate and vote for the candidate that truly represents your ideology closest? If we could step away from the idea that there are only two candidates/parties, we might be closer to making headway.

    2. I have voted for third-party candidates in the past. It's a waste of time (except sometimes for local elections.)

    3. I made the post above.
      In Washington State, there is no ability to vote for a third (or fourth) party candidate. We have a primary which only advances the "top two" vote getters to the general. It's a tragedy, because the people of the state didn't want to declare party affiliation in the primary. Unless a third party candidate finishes first or second in the primary (which is not common), they become write-in only.

  5. [Huh, there is a character limit now and I've never bumped into it before...] Pt 1/2

    First, let me ask, Minnesotastan, what info do you have that he was utterly innocent of what he was suspected of being responsible for or complicit in? It is my understanding that the detainees were collected because they were either directly, or indirectly, involved in the execution of 9-11, and/or other hostilities against the US, and/or her military in service of her defense and others. Most of the detainees were picked up in the field of combat. That means that they are not what we typically call defendants and not suitably subject to a civilian court's jurisdiction. It is simply not conscionable that perpetrators of crimes against humanity should be put before a tribunal that is designed to handle the sorts of crimes of, comparatively, lesser lethality or harm. I am no fan of Obama but I believe the public outcry against treating them like "common criminals," in one of the most liberal court systems in America, NY, was so intense, he had to bow to the will of the very vocal constituents. If this detainee could not be returned to Yemen, and I can understand fully well why not, then where else should he have been released to? He was, effectively, a man without a country. Why would any other country accept him and all that that implies? Remember the Uigers? That turned out to be a public relations fiasco, at a minimum. As someone else has pointed out, while it may be true that he was not provably--by our standards of evidence, which are patchwork logical at best--guilty of what he was detained for, that he was likely a sympathizer at least of our most determined enemy, UBL and al Qaeda, is highly likely. Such sympathizers have proven themselves, empirically, to be among the re-captured or killed on the battlefield, trying very hard to kill our soldiers. Why enrich the roll call of enemy combatants by releasing a detainee we have more reasons than not to consider dangerous to us? It doesn't trouble me to hold such parties until the war is over. Unfortunately, the GWOT has lasted far longer than anyone anticipated. We vowed to prevail against the war criminal UBL. Ok, it's been a couple of years since that happened (I'd still like to trust but verify that event by seeing his death photo, but Obama continues to appease our enemies instead of his voters on that thus far), but we also have to listen to the entreaties of those who partnered with us, who have helped us, and not just bug out the moment UBL was dead, but to stick around and help them take over the fight for their own freedom from tyranny (i.e., Saddam, Taliban).

    --A. ...

    1. It's taken me a long time to respond, but I hadn't forgotten your questions or comments.

      "what info do you have that he was utterly innocent of what he was suspected of being responsible for or complicit in?"

      Well, obviously I can't have any info/evidence because he wasn't taken to trial. And I don't claim that he was innocent. My point is that the proper moral, ethical thing to do with a purported criminal is to take him to trial (public, if possible) and present the evidence and let him/her present their defense.

      "It doesn't trouble me to hold such parties until the war is over. Unfortunately, the GWOT has lasted far longer than anyone anticipated."

      The Global War on Terror will never end. There is no definable end to it, unless we pull a Vietnam-type excuse out of a hat and declare victory in order to go home. You can't (I should say shouldn't) hold people forever because they sympathize with people you hate.

  6. Pt 2/2:
    Having the US military present in your country is very good for your security and economy. According to former Security Advisor Jones, there are countries, such as the Philippines, that kicked our military out and now are asking us back. Oops! So while other countries find the US military politically unpleasant on the one hand, they also see the reality of having us around nonetheless.

    As for closing Guantanamo: that makes no sense, practically speaking. Gitmo cost us a lot of money to build, and to abandon it simply because some think it represents all kinds of horrors, rightly and wrongly, is to cave in to hysteria. Frankly, it was brilliant to put them there, jurisdictionally speaking. Brilliant. And it chaps the hide of those who didn't see it coming. I knew when it was still hurricane fence enclosures, not yet a solid wall facility, that the place would be resented by certain factions, no matter what. I knew the detainees would gain weight. I knew they would get medical care for the first time in their lives.

    Ok, so all of that said, the denial of a person's freedom is seen as so vile by Americans, any benefits are washed away by the allegedly unlawful detainder. It is true that all a person has to do to get thrown in a jail somewhere, not just America, is to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and pointed out by the wrong person. Until we can fix that, by some sort of majority report so to speak, where we accurately prevent authority from ever wrongly imprisoning someone without due process, this is a risk of being alive on earth thus far.

    The only reason more people have died in Gitmo before a hearing is because of political wrangling. Until our volunteer soldier citizens are out of combat, holding detainees in limbo, not killed but not released either, is just how it has to be. Once the war is over, then we can proceed, because delay in favor of our soldiers is no longer necessary.

    I'm more concerned about the Death of an American Soldier, the death of whom goes largely unremarked upon by most Americans every single day.


    1. Pt 1: *Uighur; ... detained for, he was a sympathizer...
      Pt 2: *unlawful detainer

    2. [boggle] Interesting argument there about the sunk costs of Guantanamo providing a rationale for keeping it in operation. Would the same argument apply to say, Auschwitz? [/boggle]

      On the argument "Once the war is over", do you mean the war on terror? What are the victory conditions, i.e. how will you know when the war is over? As you point out, Bin Laden is already dead. From here, it seems impossible to say what the end looks like: you are stuck in a perpetual war.

    3. Godwin's Law already? Dang. Comparing Gitmo to Auschwitz is a bridge far too far, so, I won't go there with you, nope.

      What I believe a sure sign of Job Done would be when all combat forces have withdrawn from A'stan. Wouldn't that be sufficient or would you prefer a more traditional sign of victory such as total disarmament and formal surrender? Wow, that's harsh.


  7. Just so no one wonders, I am not being snarky or the like in my 2 part comment above. All my questions are sincere. Respectfully, --A.

    1. Your comments are well written and not snarky at all. I'll try to reply a bit later. Time for dinner right now and then Packers football...

    2. Buon apetito, and go Packers. --A.

  8. I feel very sad and angry for that man. History usually looks back harshly on the death camps of innocent people.

    1. History is written by the victors; at least the most of it. Guantanamo may to be overlooked, probably by the most popular and cited authors, as much as it is by their main sources of information (media & politicians).

  9. I think of the Innocence Project for people in US prisons and remember that among those who do evil things, there are those that are in jail by mistake.

    Clearly some at Gitmo were innocent- the men who were released and went to live in Bermuda. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31237416/ns/world_news-terrorism/t/four-gitmo-detainees-resettled-bermuda/#.UGEAqrJlQsc

    A link to another person who was held for seven years, then released

    Among the guilty are people who never belonged in Gitmo. What we do to those people reflects on our values as a country.

  10. "His reply was that the situation is different when you're dealing with terrorists rather than ordinary criminals...." Right, except that these people are only suspected terrorists. Until they're convicted, they aren't even criminals.

  11. The story is told of a Chinese law professor, who was listening to a British lawyer explain that Britons were so enlightened, they believed it was better that ninety-nine guilty men go free than that one innocent man be executed. The Chinese professor thought for a second and asked, "Better for whom?"
    (excerpt from the source below)

    The whole Gitmo debate distills into the 'n' guilty problem: how many (probably) guilty persons we must let go unpunished, to save an innocent from the possibility of unjust punishment?
    There's an interesting and quite comprehensive review of the topic here, with plenty of relevant historical and contemporary opinions:


    1. Charlie, thanks for the link. You make an observation I've made as well in other conversations elsewhere: when we let a guilty person go, because we are unable to meet the not infrequently impossible burden of proof, we return to a pool of naive, waiting victims someone who feasts on the windfall. When I think about criminals who were either released, and killed again, or kept killing while in prison, I marvel that the media does not harp on these horrific injustices with nearly the same vigor it does on those about who they think are unjustly imprisoned. While I look for hard data, I'm curious to know, do we wrongly return killers to the community of naive victims at a higher rate than we wrongly imprison the innocent, the same or lower? Ghosts don't have civil rights or political cache anymore, which is really why the media ignores the issue of the wrongly released. And we keep letting them act like they can still consider themselves the self-appointed champions of the victimized, oppressed and persecuted (unless you are a member of a certain group they don't like, in which case, tough). --A.

  12. They hate us for our Freedom, right?

    They won.

    1. You have my sincere condolences. I couldn't get the game last night but I followed it online. I'm doing the Give The Usual Officials What They Want dance and making burnt offerings. (I feel bad for the replacements, because they'll never get better if they don't get experience, but not all of them at the same time, geez.) --A.

    2. I have no idea why my just previous comment shows as a reply to "Anonymous September 25, 2012 10:03 AM, They hate us..." It belongs up there, in reply to Minnesotastan. --A.

  13. All you sympathetic sheep will be crying in the streets "Why are they doing this" as they then beat you to death, cut your heads off and dance around in the streets kicking your heads around like footballs. Do the research, no not all Muslims are bad, not all want to kill the infidel, but there is a large percent that do. The idiot that published that stupid movie should be thrown in jail for murder, it's just a matter of time before these people that have infiltrated all of our communities get the word to rise up and there is going to be a blood bath like no one has seen before. All it takes is a few to get many to riot. Look at L.A., I just saw a series of pictures taken at a march in London by Muslim extremists, they want to cut our heads off, they want to make 9/11 look like a joke. They are NOT finished. General Black Jack Pershing took a group of 50 Muslim terrorists, lined them up in front of an open grave, shot 49, covered their bodies in pigs blood and intestines and let the 50th one go. These terrorists stopped for over 50 years.

    1. Hi Anonymous, afer reading your last post I was curious to find out who General Jack Pershing was and so looked up the aforementioned incident with him and the pigs blood. From the websites I read from, many seemed to dispute the idea that the incident that you describe definitely happened, or at least that there is no proof that it occured under the command of Pershing:


      I know this seems like nit-picking, and also using one internet source to rebut another, but I am always wary of the use of generalisations or disproven facts to encourage violence against others.

      I would also like to question exactly what you meant in relation to LA? If it's what I'm thinking of I would imagine that the social dynamics of rioting in LA were different to the current population of muslims (and radicalised ones at that) spread throughout the US. - 2,600,000 muslims in the US (2010), 0.8% of the U.S. population (2010)[1] (Pew Research Center) (Although these are obviously not 100% accurate results).

      I'm aware that you're probabaly talking about muslims in countries other than the US, but your comment also prompted me to research the status etc of muslims in the US, whilst mostly this has come from Wikipedia it throws up some interesting aspects:

      'According to a 2004 telephone survey of a sample of 1846 Muslims conducted by the polling organization Zogby, the respondents were more educated and affluent than the national average, with 59% of them holding at least an undergraduate college degree.'

      'Unlike many Muslims in Europe, American Muslims do not tend to feel marginalized or isolated from political participation.'

      'As of May 30, 2005, over 15,000 Muslims were serving in the United States Armed Forces.[91]'

      'A Pew report released in 2009 noted that nearly six-in-ten American adults see Muslims as being subject to discrimination, more than Mormons, Atheists, or Jews.[92] While Muslims comprise less than two percent of the American population, they accounted for approximately one quarter of the religious discrimination claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission during 2009.[93]'

      'Contrary to popular perceptions, the condition of Muslims in the U.S. is very good. [...] Many are professionals, especially doctors, scientists, engineers, and financial analysts, and there are also a large number of entrepreneurs. There are more than 15,000 doctors practicing medicine in the USA who are of Pakistani origin alone[73] and the number of Pakistani American millionaires was reported to be in the thousands.[74]... 45 percent of immigrant Muslims report annual household income levels of $50,000 or higher. This compares to the national average of 44 percent. Immigrant Muslims are well represented among higher-income earners.'

      Sorry to post so many long quotations, I just wondered exactly what percentage of this 0.8% of the population will rise up against the country that they live in. I'm not naive and am aware that there are constantly terrorist groups working in the US and UK (where I'm from) planning attacks against the population. These are dangerous and do need to be stopped. I simply want to question and challenge the danger of generalising one group of people and treating them all as a threat withing your 'communities'.

      (Also it would be nice if people would post under a simple pseudonym rather than Anonymous as it makes it difficult when more than one Anonymous is commenting in a thread.)

    2. "General Black Jack Pershing took a group of 50 Muslim terrorists, lined them up in front of an open grave, shot 49, covered their bodies in pigs blood and intestines and let the 50th one go. These terrorists stopped for over 50 years."

      When and where was this? So far as I know, Black Jack never faced Muslims in combat on the other side. He did see combat, but in the United States (against the Indians), Mexico, Cuba, and in France. So where was this? In the Philippines? As far as I know, he never served there.


    3. WWI, I guess you're the military expert on where people were at that time? Even back then General's could go where they wanted at the drop of a hat. It's the blind stupidity of sheep like Tess and DaBris that will allow the United States to fall. You think the numbers are small, yet when you go into your local corner store in any major "city", (I'm not talking about small towns, though they're moving into the smaller communities as well.), you'll find 9 times out of 10 a Muslim. I'm not saying they're all extremists, I'm just saying the opportunity for them to live and work here in the U.S. has gotten out of hand. My brother and sister-in-law leased their house to a Muslim family. After they moved suddenly in the middle of the night, my brother while cleaning the house up for new tenants, found a shoebox in the attic, it was full of fake ID's and passports. They turned it into the FBI. A man at the corner store, was never very friendly to the infidel customer, he disappeared after 9/11. When I asked the store owner where he'd gone, he said that he wasn't sure, he just disappeared. A few weeks later he said that he'd been arrested. Below is one of many links to the story, just because "snopes" says it's not real doesn't mean it wasn't, snopes is ran by people that have opinions as well.


    4. And DaBris, Pershing was stationed in the Philippines.

      Career Highlights

      1891 - Prof. of Military Science and Tactics, University of Nebraska
      1898 - Serves in the Spanish-American War
      1901 - Awarded rank of Captain
      1906 - Promoted to rank of Brigadier General
      1909 - Military Governor of Moro Province, Philippines
      1916 - Promoted to rank of Major General
      1919 - Promoted to General of the Armies
      1921 - Appointed Appointed Chief of Staff
      1924 - Retires from active duty Education West Point

      You should do some research before showing your stupidity.

    5. My argument wasn't so much that the Snopes article is 100% true, but simply that I haven't seen any proof that Pershing did do that, just links on websites relaying the same story. As far as I could tell from the Snopes, Wikipedia etc articles, and all the websites devoted to Pershing, almost none show any historical documentation of such an incident involving Pershing. The link you sent uses as a source another military forum that then quotes from the first link again with no evidence but the story itself.

      Basically I'm not saying that Snopes is a font of all knowledge but simply that I would have liked to see some evidence of the Pershing thing. Though really it was only a minor point which in the end moves away from the main discussions raised by the original blog post.

  14. "You should do some research before showing your stupidity."
    I think that you should have the courage to use your real name if you are going to insult people on a blog.
    -- Pete McPherson


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