Saturday, September 15, 2012

Another unnecessary death in Guantanamo Bay Prison

Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, a Yemeni talented poet and devout Muslim, died last week in the Guantanamo Bay Prison. He had been cleared for release under George W. Bush (in December 2006) and under Barack Obama (as a result of the Guantánamo Review Task Force’s deliberations in 2009). His habeas corpus petition had been granted, but, disgracefully, he had not been freed.

As recently noted by investigative journalist, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert, and author of  the bookThe Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press) - Andy Worthington, "Instead of being released, Adnan Latif was failed by all three branches of the U.S. government. Obama was content to allow him to rot in Guantánamo, having announced a moratorium on releasing any Yemenis from Guantánamo after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian recruited in Yemen, tried and failed to blow up a plane in December 2009. That ban, which had been put in place largely because of pressure from Congress, was still in place when Latif died. Also to blame are the D.C. Circuit Court and the Supreme Court. Latif’s habeas corpus petition had been granted in July 2010, but then the D.C. Circuit Court moved the goalposts, ordering the lower-court judges to give the government’s supposed evidence — however obviously inadequate — the presumption of accuracy. Latif’s case came before the D.C. Circuit Court in October 2011. Two of the three judges — Janice Rogers Brown and Karen LeCraft Henderson — reversed his successful habeas petition. Only Judge David Tatel dissented, noting that there was no reason for his colleagues to assume that the government’s intelligence report about Latif, made at the time of his capture, was accurate, as it had been “produced in the fog of war, by a clandestine method that we know almost nothing about.”... Despite that, when the Supreme Court had the opportunity to take back control of the Guantánamo prisoners’ habeas petitions in June this year, through a number of appeals, including one by Latif, they refused."

Worthington writes, "We may never find out exactly what happened to Adnan Latif. On September 8, he was “found unresponsive in his cell” in Camp 5 “and could not be revived,” as the authorities explained in a statement. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service will conduct an inquiry, but it may be inconclusive. To my mind, he was worn out by Guantánamo — so worn out that he died of despair and exhaustion — and those who are to blame are Barack Obama, his advisors, and Judges Janice Rogers Brown and Karen LeCraft Henderson."

In the Washington Post  David Remes said, “Latif’s death is a tragedy and could have been avoided. This is a man who never should have been brought to Guantánamo. He was fragile physically and psychologically and cried out for treatment.” 

Worthington's wrote, "I hope that Adnan Latif’s death will not have been in vain and that it will lead to renewed pressure on Obama to release the prisoners at Guantánamo who, like Latif, were told — some as long ago as 2004 — that they would be leaving Guantánamo, but who are still held. Otherwise there will be more deaths, more disgrace, and more of the very real sense that the men at Guantánamo are, as George W. Bush intended nearly eight years ago, a subspecies of human being without any rights whatsoever." 

I agree with him wholeheartedly. When our government fails to release victims like Adnan Latif it not only makes a mockery of the Habeas Corpus but also reveals our nation's despicable hypocrisy. We simply can't talk about the things we cherish but we need to walk the talks for all to see that we are serious about those values. 

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