After 13 years, Shaker Aamer Is Leaving Guantanamo: Here are 5 Things You Should Know


By Gay Gardner, Amnesty International USA member

I’m an activist with Amnesty International, and today is a reminder of why I have been doing this for more than 30 years. Shaker Aamer is finally returning to his family in the U.K., after being held without charge at Guantanamo for more than 13 years. Amnesty’s campaign, along with the work of countless activists around the world, has helped get the U.S. government to release him. It is the unwavering defense of the dignity of individuals such as Shaker Aamer that inspires me and keeps me active in Amnesty. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

The Secrets Are Out on Drones


The secrets are out. Today, The Intercept published a series of articles allegedly based on leaked documents that expose the inner workings of the lethal drone program. While we are not in a position to independently verify them, they underscore the Obama administration’s long-standing failure to bring transparency to the drones program. Here are three reasons this is such a big deal:

1. There is new evidence that aspects of the drone program may be unlawful. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Shaker Aamer Will Be Transferred Home After 13 Years in Guantanamo


This is big news. At long last, the Obama administration has reportedly notified both Congress and the UK government that Guantanamo detainee Shaker Aamer will be transferred home to the UK after 13 years. Shaker’s case has for years compelled the Amnesty movement, along with many others, to call loudly for him to be transferred back to the UK. So today’s news is, to say the least, heartening. But as we celebrate, let us not forget – there is much more to be done, and not much time left to do it. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Mike Huckabee Thinks Guantanamo Detainees Get Better Treatment Than Kim Davis. Here’s Why He’s Completely Wrong.


What do Kim Davis and the Guantanamo detainees have in common? Most people would rightfully answer “literally nothing” to that question, yet presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee compared them in an interview last week.

Speaking to Fox News about his recent campaign on behalf of the county clerk refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses in Kentucky, Mr. Huckabee alleged that the Guantanamo detainees are receiving better religious accommodations than Ms. Davis. He described incredulously the “prayer mats” provided to the detainees and the “painted lines” in their cells pointing them to Mecca. It was almost as if Mr. Huckabee could not believe how pampered the Guantanamo detainees are to receive such benefits! SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

CIA Torture, Read All About It

Scott Stantis via US News & World Report

Scott Stantis via US News & World Report

Less than a year after a Senate panel reported in detail shocking acts of CIA torture, former CIA officials have responded. A book released on Wednesday, authored by some of the same high-level intelligence officials who oversaw the now-infamous torture program after the September 11 attacks, is intended to rebut the story of torture laid out in the landmark Senate “torture report.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Edward Snowden: “Two Years On, The Difference Is Profound”

By Edward Snowden, director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation and former Central Intelligence Agency officer and National Security Agency contractor

TWO years ago today, three journalists and I worked nervously in a Hong Kong hotel room, waiting to see how the world would react to the revelation that the National Security Agency had been making records of nearly every phone call in the United States. In the days that followed, those journalists and others published documents revealing that democratic governments had been monitoring the private activities of ordinary citizens who had done nothing wrong.

Within days, the United States government responded by bringing charges against me under World War I-era espionage laws. The journalists were advised by lawyers that they risked arrest or subpoena if they returned to the United States. Politicians raced to condemn our efforts as un-American, even treasonous.


Will the Garland Shooting Show Us An America We Can Believe In?


Scale model of the statue of Liberty, in Paris, on the 10th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Photo Credit: JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

When I heard about the shooting in Garland, Texas, my first thought was: Is my family safe?

I grew up in a town near Garland, and much of my family still lives there. I didn’t know who had been shot at or why, but I wanted to know if my loved ones were okay. They were.

My second thought was less urgent: it was just a nostalgia for my hometown in Texas. Its treeless freeways and strip shopping malls were bland. But the people where I grew up were kind and inviting – even the teenagers, and even when it came to people like me.


3 Must-Watch Videos, 13 Lost Years: Shaker’s Story

Shaker Aamer

Shaker Aamer

There’s a superstitious part of me, and a worried part of me. And both parts of me fear this Saturday: it marks thirteen years since Shaker Aamer was airlifted to Guantanamo.

My fear is that in Congress, the fear-mongers who are seemingly relentless in their drive to keep Guantanamo open forever—and to keep Shaker Aamer in detention without charge until he dies. They are encouraging public panic and anxiety over the prospect that anyone at Guantanamo might either go free or face a fair trial.


Guantanamo Forever: 28 Words of Hate

Activists protest the 10th anniversary of the Guantanamo Bay detention, Washington DC, USA, 11 January 2012.

“As far as I’m concerned every last one of them can rot in Hell, but as long as they don’t do that they can rot in Guantanamo Bay.” – U.S. Senator Tom Cotton

I don’t know if it was just me, or if it was everyone, but the room seemed oddly quiet after Senator Cotton said these 28 words at today’s Senate hearing on Guantanamo. Behind me were dozens of high school students, there for some kind of civics lesson. In front of me were protestors in orange jumpsuits, seated and rapt. For the moment, we were all quiet.


How Did the State of the Union Stack Up On Human Rights?

Obama Travels To Connecticut To Advocate Passing Of Stricter Gun Laws

During tonight’s State of the Union address, President Obama touched on issues of national security, criminal justice reform, immigration policy and women’s health, all of which involve human rights.

It is important to promote awareness of these issues as part of the US national conversation. But as always, the proof is in the pudding. So how do President Obama’s words stack up against actions?