Sunday, December 27, 2009

Florida: In the Eye of the Guantanamo Storm

(Jump direct to quick links: FL members of Congress on Guantanamo.)

Florida is acutely sensitive to everything having to do with Cuba, and that includes Guantanamo. There has been intense coverage of Guantanamo by the Miami Herald.

In a speech in February, 2009, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D, 20th) applauded President Obama's plan to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, end the CIA's use of secret prisons, and order that all interrogations be conducted in accordance with the Army Field Manual, " . . . which means NO TORTURE!" said Wasserman Schultz. "This President recognizes that we need not sacrifice liberty for security. We can and must have both. He knows that our most cherished ideals of freedom and liberty are also our most powerful weapons against tyranny and terror." (more by Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz on Guantanamo)

Congressman Alan Grayson (D, 8th) also welcomed President Obama's changes to the Guantanamo system, saying, "I am particularly happy that one of President Obama’s first acts was to order a 120-day halt on all pending Guantanamo war crimes tribunal cases. Prosecutors have said it is 'in the interests of justice' to freeze the trials" pending evaluation. (more by Congressman Grayson on Guantanamo)

Congressman Kendrick Meek (D, 17th) has also called for "full, open hearings into detention facilities in the wake of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal." (more by Congressman Meek on Guantanamo)

At the same time, some of the President's erstwhile supporters have provided equivocal proposals. Congressman Alcee Hastings (D, 23rd) has made a proposal that has been dubbed "Gitmo 2.0." "If we have transparency and accountability, than you can leave Gitmo just like it is." Hastings has cited his experience as a judge dealing with problem cases, and has been quoted as saying, "we just changed what was going on inside and therefore the perception changed" and if no torture takes place at the facility, the "new Guantanamo" can open for business. (more by Congressman Hastings on Guantanamo)

Several Republic congressmen have criticized the Obama Administration's plans on Guantanamo.

Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R, 9th) said he was "outraged" that President Obama decided "to bring the terrorists being held at GITMO to American soil for prosecution in our criminal justice system." (more by Congressman Bilirakis on Guantanamo)

Congressman Thomas Rooney (R, 16th) has criticized the decision to prosecute Gitmo detainees in the United States. He has said, "As a former Army JAG officer and prosecutor I believe this decision undermines our military commission system. " (more by Congressman Rooney on Guantanamo)

PerhapsCongressman Bill Posey (R, 15th) has the right idea. Instead of telling constituents where he stands, he asks them to tell him what to think. A survey on his site asks, "TERRORIST TRIALS - The President has announced that some enemy combatant terrorists captured on the battlefield and currently at Guantanamo Bay will be granted civilian rights and given a trial in New York City. Should terrorists be brought to the U.S. and tried in civilian courts? 1. No, They should be tried in Guantanamo Bay in military tribunals. 2. Yes, They should be tried in U.S. civilian courts and tried as criminals. 3. The federal government should not give terrorists a platform to rally others to their cause. We should keep them locked up at Guantanamo Bay and out of the United States. 4. None of the Above" (more by Congressman Posey on Guantanamo)

Information on how to contact your representative, and on their Guantanamo positions, is shown below.

(Don't know who your representative is? Look him/her up by zip code here.)

(Don't know how what to say? Suggestions for getting started here.)

Bilirakis, Gus M. R9thContactOn Gitmoabove
Boyd, Allen D2ndContact
Brown, Corrine D3rdContact
Brown-Waite, Ginny R5thContact
Buchanan, Vern R13thContact
Castor, Kathy D11thContact
Crenshaw, Ander R4thContact
Diaz-Balart, Lincoln R21stContact
Diaz-Balart, MarioR25thContact
Grayson, Alan D8thContactOn Gitmoabove
Hastings, Alcee L. D23rdContactOn Gitmoabove
Klein, Ron D22ndContact
Kosmas, Suzanne M. D24thContact
Mack, Connie R14thContact
Meek, Kendrick B. D17thContactOn Gitmoabove
Mica, John L. R7thContact
Miller, Jeff R1stContact
Posey, Bill R15thContactOn Gitmoabove
Putnam, Adam H. R12thContact
Rooney, Thomas J. R16thContactOn Gitmoabove
Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana R18thContact
Stearns, Cliff R6thContact
Wasserman Schultz, Debbie D20thContactOn Gitmoabove
Wexler, Robert D19thContact
Young, C. W. Bill R10thContactOn Gitmoabove

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Texas: Time to Stand Tall on the Guantanamo Issue?

(Jump direct to quick links: TX members of Congress on Guantanamo.)

Texas is a proud and independent place. Its tradition of standing tall in the face of threats -- physical and spiritual -- is equalled only by the fame of its bluebonnet-covered hill country. By and large, however, congressmen from Texas have been shrinking violets on the Guantanamo issue.

A few Texas congressmen have been staunch defenders of Constitutional process in the face of Guantanamo practices. Hopefully, some of them will attend a major screening of The Response which is scheduled for Houston on February 25 -- a South Texas Law, Bush/Texas A&M and Baker/Rice joint event. (For updates on specific time and venue, and associated events, see the Facebook event page.)

Congressman Ron Paul (R, 14th) has said, "Fighting terrorism is a top concern for most Americans. It is understandable, knowing how vulnerable we now are to an attack by our enemies. But striking out against the liberties of all Americans, with the Patriot Act, the FBI, or Guantanamo-type justice will hardly address the problem. Liberty cannot be enhanced by undermining liberty! It is never necessary to sacrifice liberty to preserve it." (more by Congressman Paul on Guantanamo)

Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D, 25th) joined a group of 145 congressmen in a letter to then-President Bush in June, 2007, saying, "The closure of the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay would represent a positive first step toward restoring our international reputation as the leader of democracy and individual rights." (more by Congressman Doggett on Guantanamo)

Contact your representative and urge them to attend the Houston screening on February 25, 2010 -- a South Texas Law, Bush/Texas A&M and Baker/Rice joint event.

Information on how to contact your representative, and on their Guantanamo positions, is shown below.

(Don't know who your representative is? Look him/her up by zip code here.)

(Don't know how what to say? Suggestions for getting started here.)

Barton, Joe R6thContact
Brady, Kevin R8thContact
Burgess, Michael C. R26thContactOn Gitmoabove
Carter, John R. R31stContactOn Gitmoabove
Conaway, K. Michael R11thContact
Cuellar, Henry D28thContact
Culberson, John Abney R7thContactOn Gitmoabove
Doggett, Lloyd D25thContactOn Gitmoabove
Edwards, Chet D17thContact
Gohmert, Louie R1stContactOn Gitmoabove
Gonzalez, Charles A. D20thContact
Granger, Kay R12thContactOn Gitmoabove
Green, Al D9thContact
Green, Gene D29thContact
Hall, Ralph M. R4thContact
Hensarling, Jeb R5thContact
Hinojosa, Rubén D15thContact
Jackson-Lee, Sheila D18thContact
Johnson, Eddie Bernice D30thContact
Johnson, Sam R3rdContactOn Gitmoabove
McCaul, Michael T. R10thContactOn Gitmoabove
Marchant, Kenny R24thContact
Neugebauer, Randy R19thContactOn Gitmoabove
Olson, Pete R22ndContactOn Gitmoabove
Ortiz, Solomon P. D27thContact
Paul, Ron R14thContactOn Gitmoabove
Poe, Ted R2ndContactOn Gitmoabove
Reyes, Silvestre D16thContact
Rodriguez, Ciro D. D23rdContactOn Gitmoabove
Sessions, Pete R32ndContactOn Gitmoabove
Smith, Lamar R21stContact
Thornberry, Mac R13thContact

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Guantanamo and Habeas Corpus: American private sector lawyers step up to the plate

One of the ways America has shown its real stuff in the face of the persecution perpetrated in the name of the War in Terror has been the vast number of attorneys who have stepped up to the plate to put in hours and hours of pro bono work on behalf of detainees, largely on habeas corpus motions.

It would take a mega-website to do suggest the extent of this web of rights activism. But as a small nod in the direction of this effort, I will be listing links in this space to the centers of pro bono legal effort on the Guantanamo effort.

I'll start right here in Illinois:

Northwestern Law -- Roderick MacArthur Justice Center

More to follow . . .

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Michigan: "Keep your mitts off our mitten!"

(Jump direct to quick links: Michigan members of Congress on Guantanamo.)

I've spent a lot of time driving up and down the spine of Michigan, picking up my daughter near Petoskie and dropping her off there again. I've even seen the signs that say "Penitentiary area. Do not pick up hitchhikers." But I never thought they'd play a role in the debate on Guantanamo.

Apparently, a lot of members of Michigan's congressional delegation fear that the state can't stand up to housing Guantanamo detainees.

Congressman Dave Camp (R, 4th) has said, "these are the worst of the worst and they should continue to be held at Guantanamo Bay. As a result of this decision, these terrorists will now have all the rights of a U.S. citizen, and full access to our legal system which increases the likelihood that they will be released and free to plot another attack on our homeland" (more by Congressman Camp on Guantanamo)

Similarly, Congressman Peter Hoechstra (R, 2nd) has stressed the need for local leaders to be fully briefed if detainees are moved to their states, saying, "I absolutely believe that state leaders in places such as Michigan, Illinois and anywhere else the Obama administration may try to move terrorists detainees would benefit from full and transparent access to the threat and security information that is already known by the federal government" (more by Congressman Hoechstra on Guantanamo)

Congressman Mike Rogers (R, 8th) has has called the transfer of detainees to prisons in the U.S. a "bad gamble," saying they "do not belong in state prisons, no matter whether it is Michigan, Kansas, Illinois, or any other state. These terrorists cannot be compared to the criminals housed in our state or federal prisons; they are different and much more dangerous." (more by Congressman Rogers on Guantanamo)

Congresswoman Candice Miller (R, 10th) has supported the "Keep Terrorists Out of America Act (H.R. 2294)" which "would require the President and his administration to notify the Governor and legislature of any state to which these detainees are to brought 60 days prior to such transfer, to certify that they pose no security risk, and mandate that the Governor and legislature of that state must consent to the transfer" (more by Congresswoman Miller on Guantanamo)

But several Michigan congressman have been strong voices for an American response to Guantanamo that restores due process and civil rights.

Congressman John Conyers (D, 14th), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has introduced legislation to reverse the practices that were carried out by the Bush administration in the name of combatting terror. "[W]e have introduced a new PATRIOT Act bill that ensures our government has the power it needs to fight terrorism and defend our nation, and at the same time better protects the constitutional rights and freedoms that Americans cherish. " (more about Congressman Conyers and Guantanamo)

Congressman John Dingell (D, 15th) has voted against the Military Commissions Act because "it did not provide habeas corpus rights to detainees held by the U.S. government." He expresses support for "the new direction promoted by President Obama on civil liberties issues and supports his agenda to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility and grant more rights to foreign prisoners in American custody." (more by Congressman Dingell on Guantanamo)

In 2007, Congressman Sander Levin (D, 12th) co-sponsored the American Anti-Torture Act that "clarified that interrogation techniques that are prohibited for use by the Army Field Manual are similarly prohibited if used by the CIA or other governmental agencies. The Field Manual explicitly prohibits waterboarding, among many other forms of torture." (more by Congressman Levin on Guantanamo)

Information on how to contact your representative, and on their Guantanamo positions, is shown below.

(Don't know who your representative is? Look him/her up by zip code here.)

(Don't know how what to say? Suggestions for getting started here.)

Camp, Dave R4thContactOn Gitmoabove
Conyers, John Jr.D14thContactOn Gitmoabove
Dingell, John D. D15thContactOn Gitmoabove
Ehlers, Vernon J. R3rdContactOn Gitmoabove
Hoekstra, Peter R2ndContactOn Gitmoabove
Kildee, Dale E. D5thContact
Kilpatrick, Carolyn C. D13thContact
Levin, Sander M. D12thContactOn Gitmoabove
McCotter, Thaddeus G. R11thContact
Miller, Candice S. R10thContactOn Gitmoabove
Peters, Gary C. D9thContact
Rogers, Mike R8thContactOn Gitmoabove
Schauer, Mark H. D7thContact
Stupak, Bart D1stContactOn Gitmoabove
Upton, Fred R6thContact

#GitmoNorth - the Talk on Twitter about Thomson

As discussed in a separate blog post, Illinois -- and the IL congressional delegation -- has become central to America's response to Guantanamo.

One measure of this is the discussion on Twitter about the use of the Thomson Correctional Facility to house Guantanamo detainees. Frequently re-tweeted messages give an indication of what's on people's minds.

People who oppose the move tag their messages #GitmoNorth. For instance:

  • "Heard on #Rush 2day_there is a Nuke Plant 20 miles south of #GitmoNorth in #Illinois"

  • "Obama is a clear and present danger to the US #OffutAFB #FTHood #911terrortrials #GITMONorth"

  • "Even the ACLU knows moving #Gitmo to #GitmoNorth is a HUGE mistake:"

A more middle-of-the-road approach is to use the tag #Thomson. For instance, Congressman Mike Quigley has tweeted:

  • "Closing Gitmo plus Ill. jobs is a win-win #Thomson #Gitmo"

On reflection, however, at present what seems significant is the lack of Twitter traffic on this topic. Fifty tweets or so in the past week? Maybe that's why WGN-TV used Twitter to generate participation in an old-fashioned poll about Thomson:

  • "Do you support the #Gitmo #Thomson prison plan? Text YES or NO to 97999."

The results of that WGN poll show 35% supporting and 65% opposing the Thomson plan. (Say, nice integration of Twitter, SMS texting, the Internet, and good old TV there, WGN!)

What does this all suggest? It seems there are a lot of anxious -- even unhappy -- Illinoisans. But for now, at least, they are keeping their views to themselves, by and large.

This issue is evolving. You can see the full discussion by going to Twitter and searching on the term #GitmoNorth and #Thomson.

(More information about the IL congressional delegation.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Time to Show Your Stuff, New Jersey!

(Jump direct to quick links: NJ members of Congress on Guantanamo.)

The Response was screened in New York City in fall, 2009. A major screening is scheduled for Columbia University School of Law for January 20, 2010. (For updates on specific time and venue, and associated events, see the Facebook event page.)

I'm planning to attend that screening. It will take be back to the place I grew up.

I spent the first 18 years of my life in New Jersey. And in September, 2001, I was back in New Jersey to visit my mom in Chatham.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I set out for Newark Airport to fly back to Chicago. I was on the Erie Lackawanna train heading to Newark when someone boarding the train said, "A commuter plane flew into the World Train Center."

As I rode south from the center of Newark toward Newark Airport, the World Trade Center loomed on the other side of the Hudson, trailing smoke. The rest of my memories of that day and week are surreal.

The community I grew up in, the church in which I attended Sunday School, the large number of my classmates who continue to live in New Jersey because (yes, it's true) it is such a beautiful place . . . everyone knew people who suffered on 9/11 and after 9/11 . . . .

Today, New Jersey plays a leading role in America's response to the post-9/11 world, including Guantanamo. Congressman Rush Holt (D, 12th) chairs the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel (SIOP) of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The panel helps write the budget for and provides oversight of the U.S. intelligence community. His website says he "believes that America’s detainee treatment laws must provide a clear set of guidelines consistent with American principles - such as in the revised Army Field Manual - apply to all U.S. Government personnel (including contractors and intelligence agents) on how to treat prisoners in ways that preserve our principles. He supports President Obama’s Executive Order in January 2009 to close Guantanamo within a year and end torture of detainees." (more by Congressman Holt on Guantanamo)

Congressman Holt has stepped up to the challenge. Other New Jersey congressmen need to do more. Other than a NIMBY ("not in my backyard") letter to President Obama signed by five NJ congressmen (Lobiondo, Smith, Garrett, Lance, and Frelinghuysen -- "The federal prison system in New Jersey is already severely understaffed and underfunded . . . .") there has been precious little activism by New Jersey congressmen on the Guantanamo issue.

Contact your representative and urge them to attend the Columbia University screening on January 20 in New York City.

Information on how to contact your representative, and on their Guantanamo positions, is shown below.

(Don't know who your representative is? Look him/her up by zip code here.)

(Don't know how what to say? Suggestions for getting started here.)

Adler, John H. D3rdContact
Andrews, Robert E. D1stContact
Frelinghuysen, Rodney P. R11thContactOn Gitmoabove
Garrett, Scott R5thContactOn Gitmoabove
Holt, Rush D. D12thContactOn Gitmoabove
Lance, Leonard R7thContactOn Gitmoabove
LoBiondo, Frank A. R2ndContactOn Gitmoabove
Pallone, Frank Jr.D6thContact
Pascrell, Bill Jr.D8thContactOn Gitmoabove
Payne, Donald M. D10thContact
Rothman, Steven R. D9thContact
Sires, Albio D13thContact
Smith, Christopher H. R4thContactOn Gitmoabove

Sunday, December 20, 2009

How do Massachusetts "Sons of Liberty" View Guantanamo?

(Jump direct to quick links: MA members of Congress on Guantanamo.)

Politicians in Massachusetts may be said to be the true descendants of the Revolutionary War era "Sons of Liberty." Perhaps they should be looking over their shoulders . . . .

Issues of freedom of speech and association, limitations on power, and due process are as alive today as they were in the 1770s in Massachusetts Bay Colony. These issues are explored in the film The Response.

A major screening of The Response is scheduled for Harvard University for May 4, 2010. (For updates on specific time and venue, and associated events, see the Facebook event page.)

In January, 2010, the town of Newton offered to accept one Guantanamo detainee, and Amherst did the same for two others in November, 2009. (Full story.)

Congressman John Olver (D, 1st) has said, "Nearly seven years after 9/11 we have yet to implement an effective justice system for detainees apprehended in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. By treating captives from the war on terror as enemy combatants rather than prisoners of war, the Bush Administration has denied individuals due process and often held them for months or years without charge or trial. Inhumane interrogation techniques have been consistently used at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo in addition to other sites around the world." (more by Congressman Olver on Guantanamo)

Congressman Ed Markey (D, 7th) praised President Obama's move to close Guantanamo, saying "The Bush administration’s torture policies, extraordinary renditions and operation of the Guantanamo Bay prison were contrary to the best traditions of the United States." (more by Congressman Markey on Guantanamo)

Commenting on U.S. actions at Guantanamo, Congressman Bill Delahunt (D, 10) has said, “The damage from Guantanamo goes well beyond the pain and suffering of these individuals and their families. It has dealt a severe blow to America’s image in the world that will take decades to overcome. It is time for our government to correct these mistakes and design a system that reflects our values and embraces the rule of law.” (more by Congressman Delahunt on Guantanamo)

Contact your representative and urge them to attend the Harvard University screening in May.

Information on how to contact your representative, and on their Guantanamo positions, is shown below.

(Don't know who your representative is? Look him/her up by zip code here.)

(Don't know how what to say? Suggestions for getting started here.)

Capuano, Michael E. D8thContact
Delahunt, Bill D10thContactOn Gitmoabove
Frank, Barney D4thContact
Lynch, Stephen F. D9thContact
McGovern, James P. D3rdContact
Markey, Edward J. D7thContactOn Gitmoabove
Neal, Richard E. D2ndContact
Olver, John W. D1stContactOn Gitmoabove
Tierney, John F. D6thContact
Tsongas, Niki D5thContact

California: Left-Coast Thinking on What Guantanamo Means

(Jump direct to quick links: CA members of Congress on Guantanamo.)

The Response was screened several times in 2009 in California -- including a screening at UCLA Law School on February 2 -- and additional California screenings are in the works for 2010.

California congessmen have been tremendously active and hugely influential in the debate on Guantanamo and Constitutional rights. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D, 8th) has said, "The treatment of detainees is a taint on our country's reputation, especially in the Muslim world, and there are many questions that must be answered. These questions are important because the safety of our country depends on our reputation and how we are viewed, especially in the Muslim world." ( . . . more . . . )

A substantial number opposed Obama Administration efforts to resolve the problems with U.S. practices:

Congressman Wally Herger (D, 2nd) has said he is "strongly opposed to the President’s decision to move terrorist detainees to United States soil because it endangers the safety and security of American citizens." ( . . . more . . . )

Congressman Dan Lungren (R, 3rd) has questioned the fact that "a dozen new Department of Justice attorneys have just come from law firms representing Guantanamo detainees." ( . . . more . . . )

Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon (R, 25th) has called the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. "an attempt to score political points." ( . . . more . . . )

Congressman Darrell Issa (R, 49th) opposes plans to close Guantanamo and transfer detainees to the United States. ( . . . more . . . )

Congressman Duncan Hunter (R, 52nd) has demanded that Guantanamo detainees be kept off American soil. ( . . . more . . . )

Congressman Edward Royce (R, 40th) has expressed the view that, if the detainees at Guantanamo are "bad people," that relieves the obligation to change U.S. practices. ( . . . more . . . )

Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (R, 45th) has also backed efforts to keep Guantanamo detains out of the U.S. ( . . . more . . . )

However, an even larger number have been major factors in the reform of U.S. policy and practices in the War on Terror:

On March 4, 2009, Congressman Adam Schiff (D, 29th) "introduced legislation that will close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and make use of the military courts-martial to prosecute detainees who are unlawful enemy combatants." ( . . . more . . . )

Congressman George Miller (D, 7th) has spoken in favor of a bill to "bar intelligence officials from using torture, like waterboarding and other harsh techniques." He explained, "Torture is not only morally wrong but is also bad policy as the information gained from it can be highly unreliable. The reason to use the Army Field Manual is because the Field Manual works. Condoning state-sponsored torture, as the President has done by vetoing our bill, undermines our nation’s moral authority, puts American military and diplomatic personnel at-risk, and undermines the quality of intelligence we receive.”" ( . . . more . . . )

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D, 9th) was one of more than 50 members of Congress who sent a letter to US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in 2005 calling on him "to appoint a special counsel to investigate whether high-ranking Bush administration officials violated US and international law by allowing the use of prohibited torture techniques in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. " ( . . . more . . . )

Congressman Pete Stark (D, 13th) has been an outspoken critic of Bush administration practices, including "shield[ing] its highest officials from responsibility for prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay." ( . . . more . . . )

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D, 14th) is the author of the Lawful Interrogation and Detention Act of 2009. She applauded the move to close Guantanamo, saying, “These orders are the clearest statement that America is a nation that respects the rule of law and the dignity of humankind. I look forward to working with President Obama to ensure that these policies are implemented effectively.”" ( . . . more . . . )

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D, 16th) has spoken out strongly in factor of H. Res 700, to "direct the Attorney General to transmit to the House of Representatives documents in the possession of the Attorney General relating to the treatment of prisoners and detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay." ( . . . more . . . )

In June, 2007, Congressman Sam Farr (D, 17th) joined his colleagues in calling for the closure of Guantanamo. He said in a statement, "It's an outrage that this prison was opened in 2002, and it's an outrage that it hasn't been closed. This prison undermines our status as a leader on human rights and places Americans around the world in jeopardy." ( . . . more . . . )

Congresswoman Jane Harman (D, 36th) is an advocate of strong measures against Al-Qa'ida, while at the same time she expresses support for Attorney General Holder's decision to try Guantanamo detainees in the U.S., saying "we live by our values -- principal among them the rule of law." ( . . . more . . . )

In October, 2004, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D, 47th) introduced the Military Commissions Act, to "establish clear statutory authority for the appointment, jurisdiction, procedures, and review of military commissions." ( . . . more . . . )

Congressman John Campbell (R, 48th) has said, "" ( . . . more . . . )

A detailed analysis of legal issues is available on the website of Congressman Henry Waxman (D, 30th). ( . . . more . . . )

Information on how to contact your representative, and on their Guantanamo positions, is shown below.

(Don't know who your representative is? Look him/her up by zip code here.)

(Don't know how what to say? Suggestions for getting started here.)

Baca, Joe D43rdContact
Becerra, Xavier D31stContact
Berman, Howard L. D28thContact
Bilbray, Brian P. R50thContact
Bono Mack, Mary R45thContactOn Gitmoabove
Calvert, Ken R44thContact
Campbell, John R48thContactOn Gitmoabove
Capps, Lois D23rdContact
Cardoza, Dennis A. D18thContact
Chu, Judy D32ndContact
Costa, Jim D20thContact
Davis, Susan A. D53rdContact
Dreier, David R26thContact
Eshoo, Anna G. D14thContactOn Gitmoabove
Farr, Sam D17thContactOn Gitmoabove
Filner, Bob D51stContact
Gallegly, Elton R24thContact
Garamendi, John D10thContact
Harman, Jane D36thContactOn Gitmoabove
Herger, Wally R2ndContactOn Gitmoabove
Honda, Michael M. D15thContact
Hunter, Duncan R52ndContactOn Gitmoabove
Issa, Darrell E. R49thContactOn Gitmoabove
Lee, Barbara D9thContactOn Gitmoabove
Lewis, Jerry R41stContact
Lofgren, Zoe D16thContactOn Gitmoabove
Lungren, Daniel E. R3rdContactOn Gitmoabove
McCarthy, Kevin R22ndContact
McClintock, Tom R4thContact
McKeon, ``Buck'' R25thContactOn Gitmoabove
McNerney, Jerry D11thContact
Matsui, Doris O. D5thContact
Miller, Gary G. R42ndContact
Miller, George D7thContactOn Gitmoabove
Napolitano, Grace F. D38thContact
Nunes, Devin R21stContact
Pelosi, Nancy D8thContactOn Gitmoabove
Radanovich, George R19thContact
Richardson, Laura D37thContactOn Gitmoabove
Rohrabacher, Dana R46thContact
Roybal-Allard, Lucille D34thContact
Royce, Edward R. R40thContactOn Gitmoabove
Sánchez, Linda T. D39thContact
Sanchez, Loretta D47thContactOn Gitmoabove
Schiff, Adam B. D29thContactOn Gitmoabove
Sherman, Brad D27thContact
Speier, Jackie D12thContact
Stark, Fortney Pete D13thContactOn Gitmoabove
Thompson, Mike D1stContact
Waters, Maxine D35thContact
Watson, Diane E. D33rdContactOn Gitmoabove
Waxman, Henry A. D30thContactOn Gitmoabove
Woolsey, Lynn C. D6thContact

Saturday, December 19, 2009

New York State Confronts Guantanamo

(Jump direct to quick links: NY members of Congress on Guantanamo.)

New York is distinguished by being both the target of the 9/11 attacks, and the venue of upcoming trials of several alleged terrorist leaders.

The Response was screened in New York City in fall, 2009. A major screening is scheduled for Columbia University School of Law for January 20, 2010. (For updates on specific time and venue, and associated events, see the Facebook event page.)

It is lost on no one that it is tough to be a New Yorker and still maintain objectivity on the issues surrounding the War on Terror. And yet studies have shown that people in New York are as likely to keep a level head about these legal issues as people in other places in the country.

Several New York congressmen have issued strong statements on Guantanamo and the associated issues:

Congressman Steve Israel (D, 2nd) has said, "[M]ost Americans, I believe, will have an inuitive and plain understanding of where we must end-up. Designing a system that keeps us safe without having to change our national character. Creating a process that allows us to kill and capture terrorists without having to surrender our values to them." ( . . . more . . . )

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D, 8th) has applauded the plan to try suspects in federal court, but criticized the military commissions: "I am disappointed that the Attorney General has decided to pursue cases against other Guantanamo detainees in military commissions. While Congress has reformed some aspects of that system, the military commissions are no substitute for trials in our federal courts or through courts-martial. We must ensure that these commissions are not simply used as a lesser vehicle for cases in which the evidence is not sufficient." ( . . . more . . . )

Congressman Jose Serrano (D, 16th) has been a long-time advocate of closing Guantanamo, calling its closure "a vital first step toward a return to our nation’s best traditions." ( . . . more . . . )

Congressman Eliot Engel (D, 17th) is an outspoken opponent of the military commissions: "I strongly opposed, and voted against, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 . . . . The Military Commissions Act and its repeal of habeas corpus allowed people to sit in prison for years without being charged for any crime, depriving them of even the most basic due process rights, the hallmark of our judicial system. The bill allowed people to be convicted of crimes without giving them any opportunity to review the evidence against them." ( . . . more . . . )

Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D, 22nd) is another outspoken critic of the processes used at Guantanamo. In July, 2007, his office announced a censure resolution against the administration of then-president Bush: "Among other things, the censure resolution will formally condemn the administration for launching the illegal NSA warrantless surveillance program; instituting and following extreme policies on torture, the Geneva Conventions, and detainees at Guantanamo Bay; the politically-motivated firings of U.S. Attorneys and the refusal to legitimately submit to congressional oversight of the matter; and the issuing of presidential signing statements that amount to an excessive abuse of executive power." ( . . . more . . . )

At least one of New York's Republican congressmen oppose current Obama administration efforts to resolve Guantanamo problems. Congressman Peter King (R, 3rd) has demanded "both a classified briefing and a full Committee hearing on the Obama Administration’s decision to import Guantanamo Bay detainees to Thomson Correctional Center, a state maximum-security prison in Thomson, Illinois." ( . . . more . . . )

Contact your representative and urge them to attend the Columbia University screening.

Information on how to contact your representative, and on their Guantanamo positions, is shown below.

(Don't know who your representative is? Look him/her up by zip code

(Don't know how what to say? Suggestions for getting started here.)

Ackerman, Gary L. D5thContact
Arcuri, Michael A. D24thContact
Bishop, Timothy H. D1stContact
Clarke, Yvette D. D11thContact
Crowley, Joseph D7thContact
Engel, Eliot L. D17thContactOn Gitmoabove
Hall, John J. D19thContact
Higgins, Brian D27thContact
Hinchey, Maurice D. D22ndContactOn Gitmoabove
Israel, Steve D2ndContactOn Gitmoabove
King, Peter T. R3rdContactOn Gitmoabove
Lee, Christopher John R26thContact
Lowey, Nita M. D18thContact
McCarthy, Carolyn D4thContact
McMahon, Michael E. D13thContact
Maffei, Daniel B. D25thContact
Maloney, Carolyn B. D14thContact
Massa, Eric J. J. D29thContact
Meeks, Gregory W. D6thContact
Murphy, Scott D20thContact
Nadler, Jerrold D8thContactOn Gitmoabove
Owens, William L. D23rdContact
Rangel, Charles B. D15thContact
Serrano, José E. D16thContactOn Gitmoabove
Slaughter, Louise McIntosh D28thContact
Tonko, Paul D21stContact
Towns, Edolphus D10thContact
Velázquez, Nydia M. D12thContact
Weiner, Anthony D. D9thContact

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The best reads on the Guantanamo issue

I'm putting together a list of the best books on Guantanamo.

My favorites are:

The Challenge: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and the Fight over Presidential Power by Jonathan Mahler

The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals by Jane Mayer

(A powerful companion piece is the HBO film Ghosts of Abu Ghraib - watch it online here.)

Is There a Right to Remain Silent?: Coercive Interrogation and the Fifth Amendment After 9/11 by Alan Dershowitz

The Interrogators: Inside the Secret War Against al Qaeda by Chris Mackey

What do other people think?

Please comment . . .

How to Talk to Your Congressmen About Their Response to Guantanamo

Members of Congress will soon (early 2010) have an opportunity to go to a special screening of the film about the Guantanamo tribunals, The Response. How can you use this screening as an opportunity to engage them in conversation about the important issues raised by this film?

In fact, virtually every member of Congress relishes the opportunity to have real contact with constituents -- especially on substantive issues that the constituent cares deeply about. With all but the very busiest of congressmen (e.g. Speaker of the House), you should expect that you can begin a dialog with the staff and schedule a meaningful meeting with the member when he/she is in the district -- which is every week for many, and at least during recesses for the rest.

Here's my 1-2-3 formula for getting into discussion with your congressman:

(1) Research their position. It's easy, right? Just Google some combination of the words Guantanamo and/or habeas and/or detainees plus the member's name. Most are on the record about Guantanamo.

(2) Research your position -- and spell it out! A very knowledgeable insider once clued me in about how to converse with members of Congress. "They are genuinely interested in the underlying thinking beneath your position. It's important that the logic makes sense. And they're also looking for any personal insight you have on the issue. How have you (or someone you know) been touched by the issue? Spell it out!"

(3) Ask for a meeting. In-person meetings tend to focus the mind - for you and the member. If you don't do this sort of thing very frequently, you may find that it turns out to be the most meaningful 15 minutes of your year! And think of what you've accomplished: in the mind of the member, when someone raises their voice, they reckon there's 10 more people out there who feel the same way (but aren't talking). Thoroughly written letters are even more rare - they figure there must be 100 more people out there with those feelings. And in-person meetings are 1 in a 1,000. Now . . . that's leverage!

Suggestion: get in contact now so that your member can plan to attend the screening of The Response in D.C. and be prepared to talk about it with you on their return.

AND . . . you can get a head start on your preparations by reading other posts in this blog to see how your congressman has responded to date to the issues raised by Guantanamo.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Why Illinois is Central to America's Response to Guantanamo

(Jump direct to quick links: IL members of Congress on Guantanamo.)

It was last summer that I first saw a screening of The Response at the Siskel Film Center in Chicago in connection with the American Bar Association meeting. The Response opened my eyes to what Guantanamo means for all of us.

Sure, the film The Response itself is an import to Chicago (it came out of the University of Maryland School of Law), but many of the attorneys who have taken on the habeus corpus cases of Guantanamo detainees on a pro bono basis are based right here in Chicago.

I met one of them, Tom Sullivan, at the first screening of The Response, and another, Gary Isaac, at a followup screening in Evanston; both of them participated on panels and described their work, including arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on the important Constitutional issues raised by Guantanamo. Another center of pro bono Guantanamo effort is the Northwestern Law -- Roderick MacArthur Justice Center

I also discovered the leading role that our Illinois representatives in the U.S. Congress are playing on these issues. In particular, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (9th) participated in the Evanston screening. In the course of the panel discussion, upon hearing that The Response had a slate of high profile screenings lined up at Columbia, Harvard, and other places, Congresswoman Schakowsky expressed an interest in arranging a screening for members of Congress on Capitol Hill. She has since arranged an official invitation to the film's producers, and a screening is projected for early 2010.

Then, about a month ago, Illinois became really prominent in the national response to Guantanamo, when Governor Pat Quinn and Senator Dick Durbin put forward a recommendation that the federal penitentiary in Thomon, IL, be used to house the Guantanamo detainees. Yesterday, the newspapers announced it's official: "ILLINOIS PICKED FOR GITMO DETAINEES: Obama orders feds to buy state prison in Thomson as part of plan to close facility in Cuba."

The plot thickened today, when even bigger headlines appeared: "TERROR TRIALS IN ILLINOIS: Feds moving Gimo inmates to Thomson prison - and they plan to hold military tribunals there." Coverage included the obligatory scare cartoons.

((A completely separate issue is the "Communication Management Unit" in the federal super maximum security ("supermax") prison in Marion, IL. According to reports, this facility -- and one like it in Terre Haute, IN --already house "an almost completely Muslim and/or Arab prison population" under secret or semi-secret conditions.))

A tremendously important election is getting underway in Illinois, for the Senate seat formerly held by Barack Obama. Even though officials in Thomson are expressing a practical Illinois focus on job creation and a typically Midwestern unflappability in the face of fear-mongering, the presumptive Republican candidate for the Senate seat, Congressman Mark Kirk (10th), is already stirring the pot over the dangers of the Thomson plan.

The Sun-Times reports that all seven Republican members of the Illinois congressional delegation are criticizing the Thomson move. They are Peter Roskam (6th), John Shimkus (19th), Kirk, Judy Biggert (13th), Don Manzullo (16th), Aaron Schock (18th) and Tim Johnson (15th).

People in Illinois who care about America's response to Guantanamo need to communicate with their representatives -- be they Republican or Democrat -- and engage them in conversation about the important issues that Guantanamo raises. (See the separate blog post on what people are saying on Twitter and in polls about "#GitmoNorth".)

Information on how to contact your representative, and on their Guantanamo positions, is shown below.

(Don't know who your representative is? Look him/her up by zip code here.)

(Don't know how what to say? Suggestions for getting started here.)

Bean, Melissa L. D8thContact
Biggert, Judy R13thContactOn Gitmoabove
Costello, Jerry F. D12thContact
Davis, Danny K. D7thContact
Foster, Bill D14thContact
Gutierrez, Luis V. D4thContact
Halvorson, Deborah L. D11thContact
Hare, Phil D17thContactOn Gitmo
Jackson, Jesse L. Jr.D2ndContactOn Gitmo
Johnson, Timothy V. R15thContactOn Gitmoabove
Kirk, Mark R10thContactOn Gitmoabove
Lipinski, Daniel D3rdContact
Manzullo, Donald A. R16thContactOn Gitmoabove
Quigley, Mike D5thContactOn Gitmo
Roskam, Peter J. R6thContactOn Gitmoabove
Rush, Bobby L. D1stContact
Schakowsky, JanD9thContactOn Gitmoabove
Schock, Aaron R18thContactabove
Shimkus, John R19thContactOn Gitmoabove