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Memo on the Uighur cases

From: Willett, P. Sabin
Sent: Saturday, October 25, 2008 5:14 AM
To: Wolfe, Kristina (CIV); Warden, Andrew (CIV); Subar, Judry (CIV) Cc: Manning, Susan Baker
Subject: Uighur cases

Dear Kristina, Andrew and Jud:

Our Uighur clients have now been at Guantanamo for about 6 1/2 years. After years of stalling and staying and appellate gamesmanship, you pleaded no contest -- they are not enemy combatants. You have never charged them with any crime. In October a federal judge said they must be freed. They were on freedom's doorstep. The plane was at Gitmo. The stateside Lutheran Refugee services and the Uighur families and the Tallahassee clergy were ready to receive them. You blocked their release by getting an emergency stay from the Court of Appeals. Then by extending the stay. Since then we have done everything we can to try to win that release again and we have failed. And you have positioned this shrewdly. You know it will take many months to get a decision. If we win you will ask for en banc review. And if we win that you will appeal for Supreme Court review. So you know and I know what is happening here. This won't be over in one month, or in six. It will be years.

And you know another thing. No other country is ever going to take them. Not ever. Not after some genius decided, in your overnight stay papers, for the first time ever, anywhere, to call these people "terrorists." That the charge is false, that you have now backed away from it in your brief, that doesn't matter. It will never happen now.

It was never going to happen anyway. State has been trying to resettle this for four years. China has blocked it everywhere. You know it will never happen. If you win your appeal these men will spend the rest of their lives as prisoners at Guantanamo.

So now I am on my way to Gitmo to tell them all of that on Monday.

And I asked for one simple thing of you. I said let me sit down with them together, as men, without them being chained to the floor. And the Defense Department said no.

So I said, let me meet them alone, as we always do. Let me meet them in the hut where we always meet. Station MPs outside that hut, as you always do. Just permit these men one shred of human dignity. Do not chain them to the floor.

And you said no.

Yesterday the court refused to intervene. But it doesn't end there. Because this isn't about courts or who wins a motion. This is really about just who in the hell you people are. What you see when you look in the mirror. Or who your clients are and what they see in the mirror. What kind of Americans treat innocent victims with this kind of reflexive, degrading cruelty? Americans don't treat criminals this way in a federal prison. Americans are not supposed to treat enemy prisoners of war this way under the service field manuals, or the Geneva Conventions, if anyone paid attention to the field manuals or the Geneva Conventions any more. And these people aren't criminals, and they aren't the enemy and you say the department of defense will not comply even with its own service field manuals, or with any basic human decency, and carry on like a bunch of small-minded, panicked little people. As an American, I don't understand that.

And that is what I am asking for you. I am asking you to request of the base commander that he look in the mirror. Tell him I will meet these men alone, one at a time, and I will sit in that hut, and he can station a whole platoon outside to make sure it is only one at a time, and I would like him to show these Uighurs the basic human respect of not having to be chained to the floor. That is my personal request of your client. As one American to another.

And if the base commander will not do that, not even that, then I would like him to meet me and look me in the eye and explain just what in the hell kind of American he is. Because I do not understand it. Whoever the narrow-chested bureaucrat may be who makes these legal decisions sitting in some political office in Washington , however small and un-American that execrable person may be, I am still willing to bet that the base commander is better than that.

I will be there Sunday night.

Thank you.

Sabin


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