Detainees' attorneys angered by cancellation of flights to Guantanamo
March 21st, 2013
07:22 PM ET

Detainees' attorneys angered by cancellation of flights to Guantanamo

By Mike Mount

The U.S. Navy has ordered commercial flights to the military base at Guantanamo, Cuba canceled because of a regulation that had been overlooked for years, outraging lawyers who use the flights to visit their clients at the detention facility.

The order comes as lawyers of detainees held at Guantanamo sent a letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel complaining of tougher treatment of detainees by the base commander who arrived last summer. At least 25 suspected terrorists held at the detention facility are participating in a hunger strike, which lawyers say is a result of the treatment they are receiving.

Navy Capt. John Nettleton, the Naval Station Commanding Officer , notified the small airline, IBC Travel, in late February, according to military officials. The airline was directed to stop flying into Guantanamo by April 30th, but the airline said it would halt flights as of April 5th, according Navy officials.

A spokesperson for the base, Kelly Wirfel, told CNN the decision was made after a review of flight operations at the base that found that the airline was violating two federal regulations. The flights were found not "directly connected with or in support of U.S. government businesses," and not, "in connection with U.S. Government or community interests on an infrequent basis when no adequate civil airport is reasonably available."

"We want to make it very clear that there are a variety of options available for those needing to fly to the base," Wirfel said.

A spokesperson at the base told the Miami Herald that lawyers, journalists and Red Cross volunteers can fly to the base on the weekly military flight from Andrews Air Force base near Washington. Permission to take the flight must come from the Defense Department's Office of Military Commissions.

Lawyers of the detainees were outraged by the decision.

"Though the military has started acknowledging that more prisoners are striking, we are being denied the ability to meet with them and see the true extent of what's happening there," according to a statement from lawyers representing an Afghan detainee named Obaydullah, who they say has lost 30 pounds since starting his hunger strike.

Lawyers from the firm Hadsell Stormer Richardson & Renick told CNN they had DoD approval for a meeting with Obaydullah next week but were told that the scheduled flight has been canceled.

"We are very concerned that the commercial flights have ended at a time when it's critical to have more regular contact with our clients (not less!) in light of the hunger strikes and their potentially perilous health conditions," Ranjana Natarajan, one of the lawyers representing Obaydullah, wrote to CNN.

Navy officials said lawyers and others who regularly take the commercial flights from Florida to the base may now take a once-a-week military flight from Andrews Air Force Base just outside of Washington.

But Anne Richardson, also with Hadsell Stormer Richardson & Renick, said the flights "are also capable of being canceled, at the last minute, without warning and at DOD's discretion."

David Remes, a Washington-based lawyer who represents 15 clients held at the detention facility, said authorities "are canceling these flights because they want to keep the public in the dark about the mayhem in the prison."

"For the past several months, bad news has been streaming out of the camps," Remes said. "The authorities are taking one hit after another for the way they're running the camps, so they're doing what comes naturally - choking off the flow of information."

Wirfel, the Navy spokesperson said, "Captain Nettleton was in no way trying to prevent or prohibit anyone from traveling to the base, he is simply enforcing a federal regulation."  "Those coming to the base in support of the military commissions or other official business on base have exactly the same options for travel as the Sailors, Soldiers, Coastguardsman, Airman and Marines assigned here do," she said.

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Filed under: Gitmo
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  35. ChrissyBinLaden

    I find it hilarious that these terrorists are going on hunger strikes. Let them starve it will save money that can be better spent on missiles for drones that can be used to kill their camel-pumping buddies. Those are terrorists I think the US did right by them because if Americans were captured by those spineless weasels they behead people and videotape it and put it online.

    The US gives them shelter, their meals, and really cool orange jump suits and lets them complain about mistreatment which would get them tortured (not the US version of watered-down (lol) torture but the cutting off limbs Saudi version of torture) or just killed.

    I still think they should import the terrorists into the US general prison population and give out smokes and snacks to inmates that make the Terrorists feel loved. I can see it now one of those "scared straight" shows aired on Middle Eastern television with a former terrorist named Muhammed Akabar who now goes by the name Mary, he wears make-up and helps protect OJ in prison, at the end of the episode he says don't be a terrorist unless you want to be here and have a Jihad on your ass.

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    March 26, 2013 at 7:15 pm | Reply
  36. Chris

    Oh how I do not miss being stationed on that Banana Rat infested base.

    March 26, 2013 at 11:36 am | Reply
  37. Redneck Canuck

    The fact is if you are a terrorist you have committed a crime against humanity. Hang them all and close Gitmo!

    Why is everything so complicated?.

    March 25, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Reply
  38. TheYruth

    I counted four grammar mistakes in this piece in one pass. Who has five?

    March 25, 2013 at 4:49 am | Reply
  39. Gene

    The United States government showed enormous kindness and generosity by releasing several Guantanamo bay detainees thinking that they were reformed. However, most of those detainees joined terrorism again. It's a lot cheaper to keep these prisoners locked in than fight those terrorists. It's more wise to assume Islamists will never be reformed. When in doubt, it's safer to send more of these Islamists to Guantanamo bay than otherwise. Guantanamo bay was an awesome idea to keep innocent people safe from Jihadis.

    March 23, 2013 at 11:56 pm | Reply
    • chrissy

      Are you trying to be funny, Gene? Anybody with half a brain knows that none of that bla-bla-bla about our "being kind to those political prisoners" is true.

      March 25, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Reply
  40. Gene

    @CMI – That is the beauty of Gitmo. It's a different kind of camp - a camp which keeps the Nazi Jihadi people in. That's a refreshing change. This camp turns the table of Nazi Islamic people but putting them in for a change. Awesome!

    March 23, 2013 at 11:44 pm | Reply
  41. CMI

    This concentration camp will stigmatize every one of us who lived through these regimes without doing anything to stop it. Just like the German people were shamed for 50 tears for tolerating the Nazis so shall we be carrying this mark.

    March 23, 2013 at 11:10 pm | Reply
    • Navyvet

      Between this and the 2003 Iraq war, that pretty much destroyed any shreds of respect we had left in the world. Especially after the Wikileaks information was made public. Why the International War Tribunal hasn't called for hearings on us is mind boggling. All that and the way we do border incursions with impunity not respecting any countries sovereignty, no wonder so many want to annilate us from the planet. Imagine if Cuba did that to us to get at a threat in Mexico or Canada. (just as an example) We'd invade and destroy everything in our path in a typical scorched earth policy.

      March 23, 2013 at 11:21 pm | Reply
      • franklovesfl

        I have no stomach for apologists like you. The only thing we could do that would please the Islamists is to surrender our lands and submit to their rule.

        Of course we COULD have just put a bullet in their brains and been done with it.

        I'm REALLY GLAD no one was stupid enough to capture UBL and put on him on trial!

        March 26, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • krm1007©

      what concentration camp? GITMO camp has more bathrooms, running water, nice comfortable beds, library, gym than any place any town any country in the moslem world, trust me it's like a vacation home.

      March 23, 2013 at 11:37 pm | Reply
    • 1371usmc

      So why don't you do something to stop Muslims from becoming terrorist. When they stop murdering in the name of their false profit we won't need gitmo .

      March 24, 2013 at 3:08 am | Reply
  42. Navyvet

    Either release them back to their home countries, (by parachute if necessary) or execute them as war criminals. Either way we are spending way too much time & money on them. After that, lets shut down the entire Gitmo base, not just the prison. It's a cold war relic that serves no meaningful purpose anymore. There's you a few billion dollars in savings!

    March 23, 2013 at 10:51 pm | Reply
    • diane1976

      I think what you say makes sense and seems to be what the Bush Admin had in mind in the first place. They had hundreds of people rounded up to be interrogated in order to find leads to the people responsible for 9/11. They released hundreds who seemed of no further use. They revived the old military commission system, thinking they could hold some quickie trials, like in the good old days, without the usual legal frills or bothering with Congress or the courts. They thought they could convict the real 9/11 culprits, who I guess they assumed were among the lot rounded up, mostly turned over for bounties with little info, but they weren't. They eluded capture, were killed or captured later, and the five or so identified as the 9/11 terrorists are still on trial with no end in sight, in a discredited and highly problematic system.

      Along came Obama vowing to clean up the system, but it only seems worse. The ludicrous trials continue because he backed down on getting suspects into regular courts. The people Bush would likely have released, if he had another term, remain in prison years after being told they were cleared for release, and the ones he might have managed to convict remain in endless trial processes.

      The whole thing costs an enormous fortune, is unjust, and discredits the US, betraying its position as a leader in human rights and the rule of law. Obama needs to face the situation and clarify it, gain the cooperation of Congress in identifying a way forward.

      March 23, 2013 at 11:38 pm | Reply
    • Gene

      @Navyvet - Choose life over death. These Islamic Jihadi people are so obsessed with death - so, deny them death. The images of jihadi people hopping in shackles, wearing those orange jump suits and with unkempt Islamic beards are so precious. Let it remind everyone of what their worthless Islamic Jihad leads to. Every penny spent to keep them alive is worth it.

      March 23, 2013 at 11:40 pm | Reply
      • Navyvet

        @Gene, I agree that keeping them alive has long lasting benefits. I don't agree with us footing the bill for them. The Saudi King and Princes's are so big on touting their wealth and refuse to take them back, then we give them an ultimatum. Either they fully fund GITMO or we will use our stealth helicopters to return your people to you on our terms. Like Kuwait with the Iraqi's, they flaunted their wealth, oil and gulf access to Iraq. When Iraq attacked we went in and got rid of them, and we didn't collect a penny for it from that government, or negotiate any special oil pricing when we restored their precious oilfields. I was there for that one! I got to tell you we have to start collecting from governments if we are going to be their protectors.

        March 23, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
      • Gene

        @navyvet – Don't worry. Saudis have to buy ALL their security hardware from us. Make them pay for the marked up hardware. We can get oil from Canadians shale. And there are smarter technologies on the horizon as well... However, I can't see Saudis inventing anything – they will have to depend on us for all their hardware. Their biggest enemy against progress is their Islamic way of life, which makes them dependent on others for every technological advances. Saudis can only invent jihad – that's the end of their capability. For everything else, they will have to continue to pay others forever...

        March 24, 2013 at 12:07 am |
    • diane1976

      I think what you say makes sense and seems to be what the Bush Admin had in mind in the first place. They had hundreds of people rounded up to be interrogated in order to find leads to the people responsible for 9/11, and prevent more attacks. They released hundreds who seemed of no further use. They revived the old military commission system, thinking they could hold some quickie trials, like in the good old days, without the usual legal frills or bothering with Congress or the courts.

      They thought they could convict the real 9/11 culprits, who I guess they assumed were among the lot rounded up, mostly turned over for bounties with little info, but they weren't. They eluded capture, were killed or captured later, and the five or so identified as the 9/11 terrorists are still on trial with no end in sight, in a discredited and highly problematic system.

      Along came Obama vowing to clean up the system, but it only seems worse. The ludicrous trials continue because he backed down on getting suspects into regular courts. The people Bush would likely have released, if he had another term, remain in prison years after being told they were cleared for release, and the ones he might have managed to convict remain in endless trial processes.

      The whole thing costs an enormous fortune, is unjust, and discredits the US, betraying its position as a leader in human rights and the rule of law. Obama needs to face the situation and clarify it, gain the cooperation of Congress in identifying a way forward. I think it should be remembered that both presidents wanted to close Gtmo, and I think they did their best.

      March 23, 2013 at 11:58 pm | Reply
  43. King

    @diane1976 - My tax money goes to Gitmo because your relatives go to Gitmo. So, we both do not like Gitmo but for completely different reasons. Obama or the Justice department do not have to do any explaining to you. Instead, could you please explain to your Islamic kids and relatives not to do the Jihadi kind of things which increase the cost of security. Be good.

    March 23, 2013 at 9:49 pm | Reply
  44. diane1976

    Why does the article say "suspected terrorists"? Suspects are normally tried in a court. Few Gtmo detainees have ever tried in a court and most never will be. Over half of them were declared eligible for release by military, legal, security and intelligence authorities, some by the previous administration and/or courts as well. This means nobody could think of a reason for keeping them in prison, not just that there isn't any evidence to use in a trial, which is a higher standard. There are some others who have been declared impossible to try in a court for any crime, but too dangerous to release. The ones most likely to go on a hunger strike are the ones who were told for years they were cleared, but the Congress and/or Obama had made it next to impossible to release people.

    March 22, 2013 at 9:54 pm | Reply
    • 1371usmc

      Well for those that want to push their political views they might do some research. Most of those that have been classified as released or unable to stand trial have no where to go. Their home country won't take them back so we have no choice but to hold them.

      March 23, 2013 at 7:31 am | Reply
      • diane1976

        The info I gave is from the Obama Task Force Report, and a few news updates. That represents the status about four years ago, according to the military, CIA, security and legal authorities, etc. The process of clearing and transferring detainees began in the Bush years. About 500 were transferred and most of the rest were cleared and awaiting transfer when he left office. The Obama review didn't seem to change the designations of detainees very much, but it explained them.

        There were about 40 identified as not possible to try, mostly because of lack of info, but too dangerous to transfer anywhere. Some were on trial, or might be tried in future. The largest group must also have been impossible to try because of lack of info, but were not considered too dangerous to transfer. The Task Force Report said transfers of detainees to Yemen were on hold because of instability and terrorist activity in that country. That's also related to the Xmas bomber having a connection there, Al-Awlaki, etc. The transfers of others continued for a while but ground to a halt. There are still a few like Chinese people who can't go back there because of risk. There's a British resident, cleared since 2007, requested back by Britain, but still in Gtmo.

        The total number of detainees is usually reported around 166, with about 86 in the stalled transfer process. Some blame Congress for creating more and more obstacles. But the only answer for most cleared detainees is transfer to a third country of which they are not citizens. It must be a hard sell when one part of the US government, the Congress, considers them too dangerous even to put in a prison in the US, and they have been widely branded as terrorists, while the other part of the government, really the part that should know if anybody does, says that it has no reason to put them on trial, can't send them home, and doesn't think they are too dangerous to send somewhere else. I would say Obama needs to clarify the situation, but he doesn't seem to want to talk about it.

        March 23, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
  45. tex from Virginia

    Do all the guards have a mustache? From my countless hours of studying american cable t.v., I have come to the conclusion that prison guards with a mustache hold more power over prisoners than the non mustached do. If im elected captain kirk, I promise to have a mustache on EVERY prison guard in america.

    March 22, 2013 at 8:38 pm | Reply
    • Wassup

      OK. If you have a mustache, may be you could become a guard. But if you have that Islamic beard, you deserve to be an inmate in Gitmo.

      March 22, 2013 at 9:32 pm | Reply
  46. Re-posted With Intent To Educate Guantanamo Detainees' attorneys

    Renowned Muslim activists and generalists in more moderate muslim countries like Turkey have decried the silence of the corrupt muslim governments over the continued “brutal murders of innocent peoples by their tyrants like 1000s of Shia are cold bloodily murdered in Pakistan by Sunni terrorists” each year, and they demanded all minorities including SHIA, DEOBANDI, AHMADIYAS, BARELVI, AHLE HADEES, SUFI, HANAFI, SALAFI, MALAKI, MOHAJIR, should be given the right to self-determination.

    “Pakistan, Somalia, Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, and almost all muslim countries are poverty ridden, uneducated, and bloody occupied by al Qaeda fighters, or some other types of muslim terrorist groups.

    Under the military rules in these countries, freedom of speech is non-existent and human rights abuses are wide spread by mullahs. A survey said 5 out of 10 grown up muslim man has never heard words like "Job", 'Education", "Election" or "Democracy".

    Lives of muslims in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Benghazi, Algeria, Syria are made miserable by gun-totting army personnel or Jihadist terrorist groups, who routinely harassed, extorted money, committed raps, or terrorized people with impunity, adding that disappearances are almost a daily occurrence as also kidnapping, arrests, fake encounters and torture. Mass graves of minorities have been discovered in these muslim counties and the conscience of the world remains un-stirred................

    Tourism in Pakistan, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Algeria, Nigeria have virtually dropped to zero, while terrorism, unemployment, religious teaching have gone through the roof. More and more young muslims are joining terrorist groups to support their families. These young muslims are more vulnerable to be exploited by mullahs also known as terrorist recruiters. All mosques are becoming terrorist recruiting centers too in countries like Pakistan, Yemen, Benghazi.

    DO YOU REALLY WANT TO DEFEND THESE TERRORISTS PUNKS, DO YOU?

    March 22, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Reply
    • Marine5484

      How would you know which of these guys are actual "terrorists" when at least 85% of them are not? The vast majority of these men just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, period! Unfortunately, the right-wing thugs in Washington couldn't care less and don't want the rest of us to do so, either! They only want to be politically correct!

      March 22, 2013 at 7:17 pm | Reply
      • George Patton

        M5484, that is not entirely true my friend, most of them handed over by Pakistan secrete agency ISI to the US or NATO forces, they were hiding from previous crimes or hatching plans to attack US interests. Why would we waste millions on people who we know not going to produce any fruitful information? Unless ISI, as their reputation prevails of crook agency, has provided us dummies !!

        March 23, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
  47. johnpual

    if they did not want to be in GITMO they should not have tried to fight...That simple...!

    March 22, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Reply
    • j von hettlingen

      @johnpaul – They want to be in Gitmo. They are having a good time in Gitmo. It's much better in Gitmo than where they come from. You can't send them back now. If you send them back, they will only do something to come back to Gitmo. So, let them be in Gitmo.

      March 22, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Reply
  48. chrissy

    As the real chrissy here, I just want to say once and for all, we need to indict those people who run Gitmo and torture those political prisoners just for the sake of political correctness and take them to the I.C.C. to have them dealt with appropriately! Enough said.

    March 22, 2013 at 11:16 am | Reply
    • Mary

      @chrissy – Are you going to the mosque? It's Friday. All Islamists need to find time to go to the mosque on Fridays. Let's go together.

      March 22, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Reply
    • jack01

      The people who are watching the detaines all should get a medal for putting up with the crap they have to endure there.If it was my way they would all be shot for killing AMERICANS.Then they can have there 100 virgins.

      March 23, 2013 at 6:01 pm | Reply
  49. chrissy

    Islamists are treated so well in Gitmo that they do not ever want to leave. They have a much better quality of life in Gitmo than they could ever dream of having in their home countries.

    March 22, 2013 at 10:43 am | Reply
    • krm10007©

      Thank you, thank you, thank you, America>>> Thank you for treating the Gitmo detainees so well. Pakistan will forever be indebted to America for its generosity. Please quickly detain more Pakistanis in Gitmo and I will personally say thank you three more times. God speed.

      March 22, 2013 at 10:46 am | Reply
    • saywhat

      @chrissy – Well said.

      March 22, 2013 at 10:46 am | Reply
    • wjmccartan

      I totally agree with @chrissy.

      March 22, 2013 at 10:47 am | Reply
    • Carlson

      Those right wing thugs in Washington want to protect innocent Americans from terrorists. How terrible!

      March 22, 2013 at 10:49 am | Reply
      • wjmccartan

        Exactly. You hit the nail on the head. That is all these right wing thugs in Washington want to do - They just want to protect innocent people from Islamists.

        March 22, 2013 at 10:54 am |
    • CMI

      Thats the craziest thing I have ever heard.

      March 23, 2013 at 11:13 pm | Reply
  50. alf564

    Totally amazing....they are MY enemies and want me dead and the USA under Islam and Sharia Law and yet they get better treatment than criminal prisoners in the USA....What the hell is wrong with this picture...HANG EM HIGH !!!

    March 22, 2013 at 9:34 am | Reply
    • chrissy

      Are you trying to be funny, alf564? Those creeps who run Gitmo need to be brought to justice for torturing these guys but won't be, sadly enough and that makes me sick!!!!!!

      March 22, 2013 at 11:12 am | Reply
    • Mike

      I completely agree with @alf564. Well said.

      March 22, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Reply
    • saywhat

      @chrissy – You and I are not wanted here. It's Friday. Let's go to our mosque rather than spending time with these infidels. Let's pull in wjmccartan, krm, and Carlson - we will go together to our mosque.
      What do you say?
      – saywhat

      March 22, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Reply
      • chrissy

        @saywhat – Yes. These infidels will never understand Islamists. Let's go to our mosque. It's Friday. TGIF. It's mosque time. Yay!!

        March 22, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  51. wjmccartan

    Okay how far back in time are you going to get your vocabulary from? Or better yet did you only go in school? I'll bet you made all the way to third grade there Jethro. As for Quantanamo prisoners, led them pound sand if they don't like the decor. I'm surprised more of them haven't been lost in swimming accidents. I make myself laugh.

    March 22, 2013 at 1:27 am | Reply
    • George Patton

      phunnie boy, walking is a good exercise, especially for obese attorneys; I want all terrorists attorneys to walk from Habana to GIMO and back, like their terrorists clients in training camps in Pakistan.

      March 22, 2013 at 10:10 am | Reply
  52. George Patton

    screw the layers, let 'em parachute jump and walk back to Havana.

    March 21, 2013 at 8:18 pm | Reply
  53. Carlson

    It appears that the Navy is up to another one of it's dirty tricks in cahoots with the right-wing thugs in Washington working to cover up what's really going on at Gitmo. After all the torture that those detainees in Gitmo had to undergo, I say, turn them loose!

    March 21, 2013 at 7:33 pm | Reply
    • 1371usmc

      Are you serious??? The only thing these animals need is to hang from a rope.

      March 22, 2013 at 12:07 am | Reply
      • wjmccartan

        Wrong, 1371usmc(Phunnie boy). I totally agree with Carlson above. After all the suffering these guys did, it's high time to free them!

        March 22, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • alf564

      What part of stupid are you??? We all understand that you are a progressive liberal but that doesn't excuse your stupidity...

      March 22, 2013 at 9:36 am | Reply
    • RetiredVet

      You and wjmccartan should be in Gitmo with the detainees.

      March 22, 2013 at 10:12 am | Reply
      • 1371usmc

        If they would get the lawyers out of the way we could free up some room in gitmo for more animals to be held.

        March 23, 2013 at 7:37 am |
    • chrissy

      Well said, Carlson. Just never mind all these ignoramuses here who are dumb enough not to see things our way! For the sake of justice, let's set these men free!

      March 22, 2013 at 11:08 am | Reply
      • RetiredVet

        Chrissy, you seem to be a typical liberal who resorts to name calling when you "disagree" with others views.
        You have never served in the military, or dealt with these enemy combatants,have you?
        I will resort to your level and call you and Carlson out as being the dumb ignoramuses.
        Go back to your liberal college professors who brainwash you.

        March 22, 2013 at 5:37 pm |

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