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The Guantanamo Lawyers: Shipwrecked

Posted on Nov 22, 2009

By Baher Azmy

(Page 2)

We spent eight hours a day for the next four days talking—about everything—and I spent a total of over sixty hours with him on four subsequent visits. Murat is the furthest thing from a hardened terrorist. I lived in downtown New York during September 11 and remember the haunting smell of the smoldering rubble twenty blocks south, so in the course of conversations, I was curious to hear what Murat thought of this monstrous act. Murat repeatedly rejected the logic of terrorism. “My mother and father go to malls and airports in Germany. Why would I want terrorists to kill them?” he stressed. Also, the Quran commands never to kill women, children, or men not in battle and also condemns suicide killings—only God chooses when we die. But Osama bin Laden and Hamas believe that such suicide killings are a necessary response to oppression, I pushed, playing devil’s advocate. Murat had never heard of Hamas.

And Osama bin Laden? In Murat’s military hearing in which he was given an opportunity to speak, he said,


book cover


The Guantanamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law


Edited by Mark Denbeaux and Jonathan Hafetz


NYU Press, 448 pages


Buy the book

I hate terrorists. I am here having lost a few years of my life because
of Osama bin Laden. His beliefs show Islam in the wrong way. I am
not angry with Americans. Many Americans died in the September 11
terrorist attacks. I realize the Americans are right to stop terrorism. All
countries should do the same thing. . . . If any Muslim talked to me
about terrorism, I would tell them to their face it was wrong. I would
do everything I could to stop them. I don’t have any proof to show
you, but I didn’t harm or kill anyone.

The United States knows that Murat Kurnaz has no connection to terrorism and logged this fact no less than five times in his classified “file.” According to his file, the U.S. military itself concluded that “Kurnaz has no connection to al Qaeda, the Taliban or any terrorist threat,” and “the Germans have confirmed he has no connection to al Qaeda.” The government resisted for years permitting disclosure of this information, but as a result of a Freedom of Information Act litigation we brought on his behalf, it is now public and indisputable that as early as 2002, the United States recognized that Murat had nothing to do with terrorism. Yet it suppressed this information and continued to imprison him.

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By gerard, November 25, 2009 at 8:23 pm Link to this comment

To all you good but absolutely crazy people”

          BAD MEWS!

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By M.B.S.S., November 23, 2009 at 10:05 pm Link to this comment

this book looks good.

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By FRTothus, November 23, 2009 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment

Guantanamo is the world’s most famous (or infamous) prison?  Displaced Abu Gharib and the Bastille, has it?

What a shameful country the United States is.

“And in the general hardening of outlook that set in ... practices which had been long abandoned - imprisonment without trial, the use of war prisoners as slaves, public executions, torture to extract confessions ... and the deportation of whole populations - not only became common again, but were tolerated and even defended by people who considered themselves enlightened and progressive.”
(George Orwell, 1984)

“We live in a nation hated abroad and frightened at home. A place in which we can reasonably refer to the American Republic in the past tense. A country that has moved into a post-constitutional era, no longer a nation of laws but an autotocracy run by law breakers, law evaders and law ignorers. A nation governed by a culture of impunity ... a culture in which corruption is no longer a form of deviance but the norm. We all live in a Mafia neighborhood now.”
(Sam Smith)

“The crimes of the U.S. throughout the world have been systematic, constant, clinical, remorseless, and fully documented but nobody talks about them. “
(Harold Pinter, playwrite)

“American capitalism, based as it is on exploitation of the poor, with its fundamental motivation in personal greed, simply cannot survive without force.”
(Philip Agee, CIA Diary)

“Political will is the ultimate determinant of spending priorities. There’s always money available for war and corporate bailouts; there’s rarely money available for social programs.”
Adolph L. Reed, Jr.)

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
(Abraham Lincoln)

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By GEM_in_Orange, November 23, 2009 at 7:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Just one quibble with the “Editor’s Note”.  I think the correct word is “infamous”, not “famous”.

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, November 23, 2009 at 2:11 am Link to this comment

I’m sure the Bush/Cheney logic went ... we grabbed these guys and told everyone they were hardened killers who would kill anyone they could.  Now we have guys who don’t fit that model, who have no connection to terrorism and what do we do?  If we admit they exist, the whole argument about them will fall apart and we will be embarrassed.  Better to sweep them under the rug and not let anyone know we were so wrong.

Remember ... perception before truth is always the way leaders think.  They don’t want us to know the truth and the illegal way they make decisions.  Gitmo served their need to show they were tough and fighting terror.  This story shows how morally corrupt they actually are.

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By ardee, November 23, 2009 at 2:09 am Link to this comment

It is a very bad thing to be ashamed of the actions of ones own country. It is much worse to be ashamed and to do nothing. We continue to live in our artificial paradise, satisfied with cheap toys purchased at usurious interest, living an inflated lifestyle that comes at a great cost to many around the world.

I recall the words of a wise man, one “Pocho” by name, who was banned by democratic underground for a five word answer to the question,“why were we attacked on 9/11”. That answer was, “because we had it coming”.

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By gerard, November 22, 2009 at 9:48 pm Link to this comment

Some months ago I read “Midnight Ferry to the Windward Side,” by Attorney Clive Stafford Smith, which presents similar cases in his personal experience.  The thing to remember is that, as long as these Bush-era “executive orders” allowing incarceration on hearsay or insufficient evidence, and without demands for habeas corpus rights, are still “on the books” (which they are) then no-one is safe from persecution. No-one.

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