Release Mohamedou Ould Slahi

Ashton B. Carter, Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

Dear Sir,

I have been very pleased to hear that my fellow Information Technology professional Mohamedou Ould Slahi is being considered for release from military prison on the Guantanamo Bay Naval base.

It has been a very long time in coming.

Please do everything you can to expedite Mohamedou Slahi’s release from our custody.

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More Hope

President Barack Obama,

I am pleased to read about yet another plan your administration is floating to close the military prison on the Guantanamo Bay Naval base.

Hopefully, it will not be like the plan floated last October, which just disappeared into the memetic ether: apparently not generating whatever the response your administration was looking for to be pursued further.

I have to continue to ask, to plead with you to remember that this is not just about a campaign promise you made 8 years ago. This is about men, wrongfully imprisoned, some killed, and many tortured. To you has been given the power and authority to pardon anyone wrongfully imprisoned by our United States. To you has been given the responsibility of showing mercy to those harmed by our governments’ actions.

There are many of our fellow citizens also wrongfully imprisoned, some killed, and many tortured, however our local police departments do not report to you. I have been asked why I have written to you so many times on this issue. The reason is that the problem of Guantanamo is so easy to solve. It all comes down to a decision of one man – you. Who else should I write to about Guantanamo? Your public position is that you want to close Guantanamo. You have the constitutional authority to pardon the men held prisoner there. Therefore, I just need to convince you to take the political heat to do the right thing. To do what you have already promised to do.

These men have suffered enough. You can pardon them today.

Guantanamo could be cleared of the 116 men still held there by the end of this summer.

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Guantanamo Diary

President Barack Obama,

I have just finished reading, Guantanamo Diary, by Mohamedou Ould Slahi. I am enclosing the copy that I read with this letter, in the hope that you will pardon these men so that they may be released. If you read nothing else from his book, this passage on page 371 pretty much sums it up:

In the beginning, the U.S. Government was happy with its secret operations, since it thought it had managed to gather all the evils of the world in GTMO, and had circumvented U.S. law and international treaties so that it could perform it’s revenge. But then it realized, after a lot of painful work, that it had gathered a bunch of non-combatants. Now the U.S. Government is stuck with a problem, but it is not willing to be forthcoming and disclose the truth about the whole operation.

Everybody makes mistakes. I believe the U.S. owes it to the American people to tell them the truth about what is happening in Guantanamo.

Indeed.

There is nothing new reported in Guantanamo Diary. The United States Intelligence services believe a man is a terrorist. All information against him is completely circumstantial, and after an initial investigation he is cleared of involvement in any terrorist plot. But the United States Intelligence services just cannot let him go. He is extradited to a foreign country (Jordan) to a prison and kept there as a shadow prisoner – one that does not officially exist – who must be hidden every two weeks when the delegation from the International Red Cross visits the prison. ( I was surprised the CIA did not redact this portion of Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s account. Perhaps they think they have enough deniability to avoid being prosecuted for this war crime. Unfortunately for You, since the buck stops in the oval office: You do not. ) The Jordanians are harsh, but for them to cross the line and torture someone they need a good reason. No information they were given about Mohamedou Ould Slahi was enough of a reason for them to treat him more than harshly. Mohamedou Ould Slahi is then sent to the Bagram Air Force base in Afghanistan, where his torture begins. After two weeks at Bagram, he is shipped ( like a sack of potatoes ) to the United States military prison on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. He is still there. He is still there, because of You.

What I learned from Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s book was that he is a fellow Information Technologies professional. I should feel a certain empathy for all people ( and I do ); however Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s background in Engineering and IT makes me more empathetic to his imprisonment and torture at our request in Jordan and in our custody in Guantanamo than the rest of the random people our terrorist dragnet has captured.

You could pardon these men today. You could order the military to return these men to their families and home countries.

Please do not wait until it is too late.
Too late for you to help them.
Too late to retrieve something of your legacy.

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Oversight

Senator Dianne Feinstein,

I have been very critical of your oversight of the Intelligence Services of our United States – especially in my letter to you and the Senate Select Committee on 25 September 2014. I know it is difficult to go against these so-called Defense and Intelligence professionals. All of us are brought up to be polite to our parents, our teachers, and our leaders. But at some point, we become the parents, the teachers, and the leaders. We then have to make the decision: do we stand idly by (being polite and politic) and allow our country to descend into the abyss of state sanctioned torture and assassination, or do we call out these monsters who hide in the shadows of redacted documents; committing atrocities in the name of our United States.

Your releasing the Executive Summary of the Senate Select Committee report on CIA Wrongdoing – The CIA Torture Report – was unexpected, and greatly appreciated. You seemed to only push for the release of this summary because you knew that with the 114th Congress; the Republican party becomes the majority in the Senate: and the new chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will most probably bury this report.

How I wish that our honorable Representatives, Senators, Presidents, etc. would base their actions on their beliefs and their own sense of right and wrong; rather than be forced to act because one faction (or other) gains control over part of our government. But then, I am an idealist, and I should not be overly critical of any fellow citizen who does our country a great service, whatever their reason.

I salute you, Senator Feinstein, for getting this information to the American people.

Thank you,

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Senate Torture Report Executive Summary

I had thought that I had inured myself to this subject. Most of the information in this summary has been known to anyone who cared to know for some time. It is like being shut in a sealed room where poison gas has slowly, bit by bit, been released into the room over the last 12 years; and we suddenly realize that we are choking.

There is something startling though when the information is released officially. Even if the Senate select committee on Intelligence could not bring themselves to use the word ‘torture’ in over 6000 pages of report.

I would like one question answered  – by anyone in the former administration of George W Bush.

When the photos were released from Abu Ghraib prison, showing these torture policies in practice. Why did Bush Administration officials prosecute low level military officers and enlisted personnel for what was the official policy of the United States?

Our United States punished low level military people supposedly for abusing these prisoners – but really these military people (and the men who were their victims and prisoners) were just in the wrong place at the wrong time – and left holding the bag by their superiors.

Hope

President Barack Obama,

I was encouraged earlier this month to see an article about your proposed solution to closing the military prison on the Guantanamo Bay naval base.

I wasn’t too encouraged.

There were just as many commentators who believe as I do that if you really wanted to close the military prison on Guantanamo Bay; you would have done so already.

I continue to hope along with many others, that our United States will someday practice those high ideals about which we constantly rhapsodize in our political rhetoric.

You could pardon the men we have tortured, and imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay.

You could do it today. These men could be released 30 days later.

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Faez Mohammed Ahmed al-Kandari

President Barack Obama,

It seems so arbitrary. Two Kuwaiti men who have been imprisoned by the United States since 2002; Faez Mohammed Ahmed al-Kandari and Fouzi Khalid Abdullah al-Awda. Both men in their mid 30’s, originally from Kuwait. Both men captured on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area in December of 2001. Both men held without charge. Let me repeat that: held without charge in the military prison on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base for 12 years!

And now your Military Tribunal Kangaroo Court Periodic Review Board has recommended the release of Fouzi Khalid Abdullah al-Awda (pending final approval by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and his report of the release to Congress 30 days before it is executed)  but have recommended to continue to imprison Faez Mohammed Ahmed al-Kandari. Why?

The only reason I can see is that Fouzi Khalid Abdullah al-Awda has a father who is a colonel in the Kuwaiti Air Force, who is in a position to plead for the release of his son into his custody. And Fouzi Khalid Abdullah al-Awda has been willing to grovel to his captors, saying all the right things to win his release. Not that I’m blaming him: the United States military has formally declared that any US service member held as a prisoner of war cannot be blamed, censured, or prosecuted for anything they may say or do under the threat or act of torture as a prisoner of war. And it’s pretty well established that the United States has been torturing people at Guantanamo Bay, especially when we were initially setting up the prison in 2002.

One of the articles I read about this situation, mentioned something very interesting. This is from the Chicago Tribune story by Timothy M. Phelps posted 4:13 p.m. CDT, July 25, 2014 Kuwaiti Fawzi Odah wins approval for release from Guantanamo prison – last paragraph. (Fawzi Odah alternate spelling for Fouzi Awda)

It said there are 149 men held at Guantanamo and that 79 have been cleared for release. Unlike Odah, many of those cleared have nowhere to go because their home countries are unable to handle them.

That is a very interesting turn of phrase: “unable to handle them”. These men captured on a battlefield, held without charge for 12 years, even when approved for release to their home country will not be released; unless, their home country agrees to “handle them”. So what is their home country supposed to do, imprison them or put them under some sort of house arrest for the rest of their lives?

Why should their home countries throw out the rule of law, like our United States has done?

Why should their home countries support the evil that our United States has done and continues to do?

Remember, these men are only imprisoned because You, Barack Obama, will not pardon and release them – without preconditions.

You could pardon them today. You could send these men home 30 days later after reporting to Congress that these men have been pardoned and so can no longer be held captive. I would also suggest releasing the complete Senate Select Committee Report on Torture at the same time, while also allowing the men in the military prison on Guantanamo Bay to personally relate their experiences with torture at our hands to the media.

It is still not too late to close the military prison on Guantanamo Bay this summer.

It is still not too late for you to do the right thing, and start making the policies of our United States reflect the principles of our United States.

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Anguish

President Barack Obama,

My congratulations to both you and the people in your administration and/or the United States Department of State who negotiated the prisoner swap with the Taliban for the freedom of Sargent Bowe Bergdahl.

Well done!

I cannot even imagine what either Sargent Bowe Bergdahl or his family have been going through for the past 5 years.

There are people who don’t have to imagine. The men that we have tortured and held indefinitely in the military prison on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base for the last 12 years. Their families have also been imprisoned these past 12 years; not in any dungeon we have created, but by the absence of their loved ones. These families are imprisoned by what they imagine has been happening to their men in our custody. And as it turns out, their worst fears were realized: we have tortured their fathers’ and brothers’ and sons’ – some unto death. We continue to hold these men in an indefinite status – which could last the rest of their lives. The depravities we have committed and indeed celebrated has destroyed our honor as a country.

There is only one way to atone for our crimes: to release these men as soon as possible. You currently have the authority and capabilities as President of our United States to set these men and their families free.

Don’t lose this opportunity to do some good.
Don’t leave to the next President this abomination of a prison in Guantanamo Bay.

These men and their families have suffered enough. Please let them go.

You could pardon them. You could do it today.

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Busy

I have been pursuing another element in my ‘change of tactics’ strategy I wrote about on May 8th.

If you respect someone; a public figure, or your favorite teacher, pastor – any other small ‘a’ authority figure in your life who might feel like ’tilting at the windmills’ of our federal government policies by writing to President Barack Obama about pardoning and un-rendering the men in the military prison on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Forward them a link to this blog. Maybe they too will want to petition our leaders.

I am currently writing to a select group of mostly religious leaders. The leaders I have written to in the last couple of weeks, are not ‘public’ figures; so I have not posted these letters to them on the blog.

Will be posting more updates soon.

 

Changing Tactics

President Barack Obama,

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

– Albert Einstein

Too much sanity may be madness. And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be.”

– Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

There has always been a quixotic feeling to my writing these letters to you. As if on the 46th or 56th or whatever letter I send to you – you will suddenly see reason and close the military prison on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and the ‘secret’ prison in Mogadishu in the basement of the Somali National Security Agency as well as the other secret prisons in Thailand, etc. around the world.

Of course, you have promised to close these prisons. And I have demonstrated in this blog that you as President of the United States have the authority, and capabilities through your office to do so. When someone promises to do something that they will not do – it usually means that they don’t really want to do that thing.

In Albert Einstein’s very famous quotation above he was speaking of science experiments – testing physical laws which are not subject to human whim, or courts of appeals. He was not speaking of people.

People do change their minds from time to time, they change and grow; sometimes for the better. A no may become a yes.

Sometimes it is not what is being asked – it is who is doing the asking. Perhaps there is someone on Earth who if they asked you to close Guantanamo, you could not refuse to do so. I just have to find that person.

I call on everyone who reads this blog – please ask President Obama to pardon the men our government has kidnapped, tortured, and held indefinitely. Please ask President Obama to task the Central Intelligence Agency to do that voodoo they do so well and relocate these men back with their families. Wouldn’t it be nice if our covert capabilities could be used to help people, instead of raining death and destruction onto them?

Please send your letters to:

Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20050

or

You could go to The White House website and send a message to Barack Obama.

or

You could call The White House Comments Line at voice: 202-456-1111  or  TTY: 202-456-6213 .

These men have suffered enough. Please let them go.

You could pardon them. You could do it today.