I was delighted last month when I read that one of the lawyers in the trenches of the Combat Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) process decided to come forward and expose that severely flawed and brazenly manipulated process. Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham is the latest hero to blow the whistle on the travesties perpetrated by the Bushies in their "war on terror." This time the whistle came down on the process set up in 2004 to review the status of the men at Guantánamo after the Supreme Court said, in no uncertain terms, that the men at Guantánamo were entitled to attorneys and entitled to challenge their status. The CSRT process was hastily put together to give the detainees a status that could then be challenged ... and it should come as no surprise that the system that was so hastily implemented found more than 93% of the men being held at Guantánamo to be properly held as enemy combatants.
My client Mr. Al-Ghizzawi was one of the few men that were found not to be an enemy combatant in the CSRT process, so I read with great interest Lt. Col. Abraham's affidavit, in which he described the CSRT panel on which he sat and how it determined that the detainee before them was not an enemy combatant. In his statement, Abraham describes the weakness of the evidence that was tendered to the panel: "All of us found the information presented to lack substance. ..... On the basis of the paucity and weakness of the information provided both during and after the CSRT hearing, we determined that there was no factual basis for concluding that the individual should be classified as an enemy combatant."(Emphasis added). Abraham also revealed the pressure that was put on the panel to change their determination ... but they stood their ground.
It was a bit of good news in an otherwise bleak legal process, so I took the affidavit with me when I went to visit my client, Mr. Al-Ghizzawi, two weeks ago. I showed him the affidavit and discussed how positive it is that people from within the military were now coming forward and unveiling the truth behind these kangaroo proceedings. Mr. Al-Ghizzawi, who is now barely able to stand or walk due to his severe medical problems, looked at me rather blankly and shrugged his shoulders. It was clear he had no room for hope at this point.
After I returned from Guantánamo there was an email on the habeas listserv from one of the attorneys who was trying to pull together information regarding the various CSRT panels from unclassified information. She asked if anyone's client had CSRT panel 23. I sent her a quick email saying that Mr. Al-Ghizzawi had panel 23. Later that night I received an email from that same attorney asking me to call her immediately. That was when I learned that the affidavit from Col. Abraham was describing Mr. Al-Ghizzawi's CSRT.
On Thursday July 27th, Lt. Col. Abraham testified before The House Armed Services committee regarding the severely flawed CSRT process. In that hearing Lt. Col. Abraham discussed the evidence in the only CSRT Panel he sat on: "And not only I, but the other members of the panel said, this is garbage. "
So there you have it... Mr. Al-Ghizzawi, an innocent man who is very clearly dying a slow and painful death is imprisoned in the hell hole we call Guantánamo based on "garbage".
On that same day, while Lt. Col. Abraham was testifying before the congressional committee, I sat huddled in the "secret facility" finalizing yet another document to file on behalf of Mr. Al-Ghizzawi. This time I was petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court and asking them to step in and hear Mr. Al-Ghizzawi's case under their original jurisdiction. I asked them to use Mr. Al-Ghizzawi's unfortunate circumstance as a guide for the lower courts on how to provide habeas corpus to the detainees at Guantánamo. A feat none of the lower courts has been able to accomplish over these many years. Now I am supplementing that petition with an emergency application, asking the court to expedite the process so that Mr. Al-Ghizzawi may live to see the courts result, or in the alternative, I asked the Court to order the government to provide him with medical treatment and to provide me with his medical records so that we can start to understand the severity of his condition. It would be nice if this man who has been imprisoned based on garbage can survive this ordeal and see his family once again.
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