In the litany of injustices that still permeate the "War on Terror" prison at Guanta'namo -- including President Obama's decision to hold 47 men indefinitely without charge or trial, the resistance by lawmakers to proposals to free prisoners cleared for release by the President's Guanta'namo Review Task Force, or to allow federal court trials for the handful of men who are genuinely accused of terrorist activities -- the most disdainful disregard for notions of fairness or due process is reserved for the Yemenis, who make up over half of the 172 prisoners still held.
The Guanta'namo Review Task Force -- a sober collection of career officials and lawyers from government departments and the intelligence agencies -- spent a year reviewing the cases of all the Guanta'namo prisoners, and recommended, over a year ago, that 28 Yemenis should be released. However, when lawmakers and the right-wing media reacted with hysteria to the news that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the failed plane bomber on Christmas Day 2009, had been recruited in Yemen, President Obama responded by announcing an open-ended moratorium on releasing any Yemenis from Guanta'namo, whch still stands to this day. In addition, this unacceptable position was reinforced in December, when Congress inserted a provision into a defense spending bill that was aimed specifically at preventing the release of prisoners to countries regarded as dangerous -- a list that obviously included Yemen, given the general saber-rattling about Yemen as a nation of terrorists, which prevails in the US.
The moratorium has only been broken once, when -- last summer -- the administration released Mohammed Hassan Odaini, a patently innocent man who had won his habeas corpus petition, but when it comes to other Yemenis who have won their habeas petitions, the administration has openly shown its disdain for the legal process by appealing every successful petition, even when, as in the case of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, the prisoner in question was cleared for release by a military review board under the Bush administration in 2007, and demonstrably suffers from pre-existing mental health problems that have only been exacerbated by his nine years in Guanta'namo.
When Latif won his habeas petition, his lawyer David Remes triumphantly told the media, "This is a mentally disturbed man who has said from the beginning that he went to Afghanistan seeking medical care because he was too poor to pay for it. Finally, a court has recognized that he's been telling the truth, and ordered his release." That should have been the end of the story, and Latif should have been put on board the next plane back to Yemen, but instead the government -- and, specifically, the Justice Department officials under the direction of Attorney General Eric Holder -- are tying themselves into knots in an effort to establish that the judge in his case, Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr., reached the wrong conclusion. As with every successful Yemeni petition (apart from that of Odaini), the government has appealed to the D.C. Circuit Court, whose Conservative leanings and dubious rulings have, over the last six months, ensured that every single habeas appeal has been won by the government. A redacted version of his lawyers' submission to the appeals court is here (PDF).
To my mind, the case of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif shows the Obama administration at its most callous, and I explained his story at the time he won his habeas petition, and on Christmas Day, when I reflected on his plight for the benefit of any readers concerned with Christian charity on the day dedicated to the birth of Jesus. A week later, I published a harrowing letter from Guanta'namo written by Latif and sent to David Remes, and as this has also had no effect, I am now publishing a follow-up letter, revealing that Latif's mental state has not improved, and that he understandably feels thoroughly abandoned.
I urge readers concerned by the plight of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif to write to President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder seeking his immediate release -- and also the release of all the Yemenis approved for release by Obama's Task Force, as, without any movement on freeing these men, it is now appropriate, as I explained in an article last month marking the 9th anniversary of the opening of the prison, to consider them as political prisoners, as abandoned by the law as they were in the darkest days of the Bush regime.Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif's latest letter from Guanta'namo...
To David who is carrying the flag of salvation in the middle of dangers, darkness, injustice, criminal laws, lost freedom, false claims and murdered justice in the hearts of the judges. This made me decide my end and write about it because of everything that happened to me.
The first and last stop, the scene that is unique and the path that takes anybody to an end that no one can expedite or delay it. It's the injustice and the torture I am enduring. The torture that humiliates, wastes one's dignity; that makes a person call for death every second; scream asking for it with no hesitation and without a second thought. Laying the body in the grave is better than laying it in fire and torture that I am enduring.
It is my life but who is going to leave me alone? Who is going to rescue me from what I am going through?
Who, whoever tastes death wishes not to return back. Why return?
A new year and a new death festival
156 from the heart to the heart
From a soul to a soul
From a human being to a human being
David: Send me the one I love and save me