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CCR attorneys visit several men at Guantánamo
"Wonderful." That was the only word Tariq Ba Odah could say, repeatedly, as he looked through photos of vigils and protests, tweets and Facebook posts, and dozens of articles about efforts to free him. Detained at Guantánamo for 13 years, Tariq has been on a hunger strike since 2007 and now weighs just 75 lbs. When CCR Attorney Omar Farah visited him last week, he had to break the news that the Obama administration has (secretly, filing its documents under seal) opposed CCR’s motion to release Tariq on medical grounds. The extensive press coverage – from the New York Times, to PBS Newshour, to the Guardian – has highlighted this cruel and senseless move. While at the base, Omar also met with Fahd Gazy and Mohammed Al Hamiri.
Meanwhile, CCR Senior Managing Attorney Shayana Kadidal was also in Guantánamo, urging a Periodic Review Board to clear Mohammed Kamin for release. We are hopeful he will be cleared. But then again, Fahd Gazy, Mohammed Al Hamiri, and Tariq Ba Odah have all been cleared for release for years, and yet they languish in Guantánamo. After presiding over Guantánamo for seven years, President Obama bears responsibility for this tragic state of affairs. Remember that as he prepares to submit his plan to close Guantánamo to congress. Closing Guantánamo will be impossible if the president is not committed to actually releasing our clients and their fellow prisoners.
“The time has come” to end solitary
The movement to end solitary confinement grows daily. Everywhere you look, there is public discussion (such as this recent New York Times piece on the use of solitary against juveniles) and collective effort to abolish this barbaric practice such that, as Andrew Cohen noted in a Brennan Center blog last week, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was “neither leading nor following nor getting out of the way” when he worried over the practice in a recent opinion. Rather, Cohen noted, “the time has come” to take a good hard look at solitary confinement.
Near the center of this effort is CCR’s case Ashker v Governor of California, challenging long-term solitary confinement in Security Housing Units in California state prisons. The devastating psychological effects of this practice on prisoners was recently covered in the New York Times, in an article discussing expert reports produced by a psychologist for CCR’s case. Now, we are in settlement talks with the State of California. If the case settles, it will be one more step in the movement towards a complete abolition of solitary—and we will only settle the case if the terms of the agreement are, indeed, a step in that direction. Stay tuned – if the case settles, you will be the first to hear!