The Doublespeak and Newspeak of Release from Guantánamo, By Maj. Todd E. Pierce (Ret.)

The father and mother of Asadullah Haroon Gul have been waiting 14 years for the return of their son captured in 2007 and held in Guantanamo. Photo: Aftab Khan

By Maj. Todd E. Pierce (Ret.)  WAMM Newsletter  Vol. 39  Num. 6  Winter 2021

Guantánamo prisoner Asadullah Haroon Gul, an Afghan citizen captured in 2007, might finally be released from Guantánamo after prevailing on his habeas corpus petition to Judge Amit P. Mehta. Under habeas corpus a detained person must be brought before a judge or court to allow his case for release be heard.

The judge issued an order stating that the U.S. Government must release him from Guantánamo imprisonment.* But then again, maybe he won’t be released, even for another decade or more—a scenario which wouldn’t be unprecedented. That could be the case if the legal theory of the U.S. Department of “Justice” (DOJ), working in conjunction with the CIA, controls the matter. In a recent oral argument made in the Al Hela v. Biden case before the D.C. Circuit Appellate Court, the response of the DOJ attorney to a question from a judge was classic doublethink and newspeak.

The DOJ attorney was asked if the government’s position was that Al Hela, or any Guantánamo prisoner, after being found by a court to no longer present a threat, could be held “indefinitely.” The attorney answered: “And so I quibble with the word indefinitely. You know, we don’t believe his detention is indefinite. We don’t know how long it will last because we don’t know how long the hostilities will go on, but we do think we can hold him…he’s been declared eligible for release but still found to pose a threat, and so we don’t think there’s any obligation under principles of the law of war…that would require us to release somebody who’s held as an enemy combatant when we believe that he still poses a threat.”

The Gitmo Clock displays the number of days that prisoners will have been held in Guantanamo prison as of January11, 2022. Image: gitmoclock.com.

GTMO-Clock-Jan. 11 2022 (Click to view image)

So don’t hold your breath waiting for Gul’s release, even though a federal judge has ordered it. This case serves as proof that Guantánamo and its related proceedings do not meet the minimal standard of “a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples,” under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. Consequently, those proceedings and Guantánamo are themselves “war crimes,” unfolding before our eyes over the last 20 years, and counting.

Maj. Todd E. Pierce (Ret.) is a retired U.S. Army Judge Advocate officer, who served as defense attorney in the Military Commissions in defense of prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay. He continues to serve on an appellate case. 

Endnote:

* Rosenberg, Carol. “Detention of an Afghan at Guantánamo Bay Is Ruled Unlawful.” New York Times. October 20, 2021. tinyurl.com/yckpjxb2. Worthington, Andy. “For First Time since 2010, a Judge Grants a Guantánamo Prisoner’s Habeas Corpus Petition, Ruling that Asadullah Haroon Gul’s Imprisonment Is Unlawful.” October 21, 2021. andyworthington.co.uk

ACTION:

Urge the immediate closure of Guantánamo Bay prison. Call on President Biden to “finish what President Obama started, to close Guantánamo for good. Insist that Congress stop making Guantánamo – and the fate of the men imprisoned there – into a cynical game of political maneuvering.” Also, call your congressional representatives and urge them to use their influence to close Guantánamo. See request from closeguantánamo.org.  Use the automatic form at gitmoclock.org to send your message to Washington.

MORE INFO:

Close Guantánamo:

closeguantanamo.org  Lawyers, journalists, retired military personnel and concerned individuals conducting a campaign to close Guantánamo. Information and actions.

 Andy Worthington:

andyworthington.com: Information, updates, and related material on the prisoners remaining at Guantánamo.

ACTION:

Urge the immediate closure of Guantánamo Bay prison. Call on President Biden to “finish what President Obama started, to close Guantánamo for good. Insist that Congress stop making Guantánamo—and the fate of the men imprisoned there – into a cynical game of political maneuvering.” Also, call your congressional representatives and urge them to use their influence to close Guantánamo. See request from closeguantánamo.org.  Use the automatic form at gitmoclock.org to send your message to Washington.


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