Al Qaeda

Guantanamo Diary Author Released After 14 Years Without Trial or Charges

Mohamedou Ould Slahi wrote best-selling book about torture, imprisonment, and survival.


14 years without charges
International Committee of the Red Cross/Wikimedia Commons

Mohamedou Ould Slahi, the author of the New York Times bestseller Guantanamo Diary, has been released from the U.S. military prison complex after being held for 14 years without charges or a trial.

According to Slahi's American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawyer Hina Shamsi, "In July, the Periodic Review Board, a panel of U.S. national security, intelligence, and other officials, finally cleared Mohamedou for release after determining that he poses no significant threat to the United States."

Slahi admitted to fighting alongside Al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan in the early 1990s as part of the U.S.-supported anti-communist resistance, but to justify subjecting him to extraordinary rendition, torture, and indefinite detainment, the U.S. accused him of involvement in a number of terror plots, including 9/11.

But as Vice News' Jason Leopold notes:

U.S. District Court Judge James Robertson said the government's evidence against Slahi was thin and granted his petition for habeas corpus in March 2010, ordering him to be released. Robertson said Slahi "may very well have been an al-Qaeda sympathizer, and the evidence does show that he provided some support to al-Qaeda, or to people he knew to be al-Qaeda."

Shamsi also writes of Slahi's imprisonment:

Mohamedou was one of two so-called "Special Projects" whose cruel treatment [former Secretary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld personally approved. The abuse he suffered included beatings, extreme isolation, sleep deprivation, frigid rooms, shackling in stress positions, and threats against both Mohamedou and his mother, to whom he was very close. Mohamedou's mother died in 2012, without ever seeing her son again.

Below you can watch my 2015 Reason TV interview with Slahi's ACLU attorney Hina Shamsi, which goes into detail about how the hand-written diary came to be published, as well as the harrowing details of Slahi's confinement and abuse:

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  1. Habeas order to release in March 2010 and he was just now released? Is the VA in charge of out-processing Gitmo detainees?

    1. The gears of government grind slowly, and not very fine at all.

    2. Huh. A “petition for habeas corpus.”

      A thing like that.

    3. If the VA is under the Executive, then yes.

    4. The right to a speedy nontrial shall not be infringed.

  2. 14 years no charges and no trial. Insane. The police state is real, has been for a while.

    1. It’s a fucking travesty.

      1. 2001. Could’ve been all Star-Children and monoliths, but we instead decided to go insane. If we’d stayed where we were, we’d have a huge economic and political edge. But noooooooo.

        1. Baby boomers and the subsequent generations have been largely raised to fear freedom. They have no confidence in their society’s resilience.

          One reason why people stay stuck in Gitmo is that everyone was afraid to try them in Federal Court lest there be reprisals. That coward Giuliani was especially whiny – r=predicting to anyone that stuck a mike in his face that terrorists would blow up NYC if their buddies were put on trial.

          Osama bin Laden won. The U.S. had been a hollow shell of a superpower before 9/11. Afterwards the cracks to the facade revealed the emptiness inside.

          1. In hindsight, we should’ve left the Middle East, more quickly encheapenfied oil, then told the Kurds and the Israelis to do whatever they wanted. Instead of giving up free markets and freedom altogether to gain nothing useful at all.

    2. Thank you all for joining me. It would have been nice if a few more people had spoken up in 2002 / 3 and since about not destroying the Constitution to save it.

      But glad to have you aboard now at least.

  3. Why was he a Special Project?

    1. Because Rumsfeld is a piece of shit.

    2. He read the name as Tuttle.

      Film allusions aside, random brutality handed out by senior bureaucrats is the mark of failed state. Right?

    3. It sounds like the government thought that he has special access to Al Quaida – his cousin was one of Bin Laden’s spiritual advisers, and it looks like the Feds believed that he was a connected recruiter for AQ.

      It’s weird that Obama held this guy for 8 years.

      1. He’s releasing him now because he has nothing to fear politically from it. In other words, he’s a chickenshit.

  4. “may very well have been an al-Qaeda sympathizer, and the evidence does show that he provided some support to al-Qaeda, or to people he knew to be al-Qaeda.”

    As long as he doesn’t support Trump, I’m good with it.

  5. I can only assume that Reason does not plan to cover Hillary’s leaked email where she states that she wants the Republicans to begin the process of repealing Obamacare so the whole thing unravels.

    What’s odd about all of this is that I much prefer private Hillary to public Hillary. Like, I may be able to swallow my sense of disgust and vote for her if not for that whole she’s a criminal who took foreign money while Secretary of State thing.

    1. What’s odd about all of this is that I much prefer private Hillary to public Hillary. Like, I may be able to swallow my sense of disgust and vote for her if not for that whole she’s a criminal who took foreign money while Secretary of State thing.

      I agree that “Private Hillary” is much more palatable than the “Progressive Hillary” persona she’s been running as, but then I remember that she is also a vindictive and dangerously incompetent criminal who climbed to power by defending a serial rapist and using said power to sell government power to anyone who had the money, including the Russians.

    2. You could provide a link or something.

    3. Right. Private Hillary is a lot smarter. And understands economics, apparently.

    4. I wonder if the Republicans would do that though, since Obamacare’s failure is something they can run on for years.

      As soon as they touch it they lose that, I think.

  6. Fucking disgraceful.

  7. Look, if he was really innocent then why was he in prison for that long? Where there’s smoke, there’s fire; where there’s rendition, there’s a terrorist.


  8. It’s like looking into the future.

      1. I remember when he signed this, he issued a signing statement assuring us that he had no intention of exercising it.

        So nothing to worry about, right? I mean, it’s not like Obama has ever knowingly made false statements about his plans supporting gay marriage the effects of Obamacare posting bills online for comment before signing anything, right?

        Plus, I have it on good authority that he’ll be president forever.

  9. If he’d been classified as a POW, they wouldn’t have gotten away with torturing him, but they’d still be able to keep him locked up–without trial–so long as the AUMF remains in effect.

    That was the big mistake of not treating them AS IF they were POWs. They had to release people they couldn’t charge with war crimes–who they ended up recapturing on the battlefield. How incompetent is that!

    They traded the ability to hold captured soldiers in for the ability to torture them. And torturing them made all hope of keeping the Arab street board fall through the floor–what a blunder! If Gonzo and Rumsfeld had stayed up all night trying to think of a better way to help AQI recruit foot soldiers, they could hardly have come up with anything better.

    If Rumsfeld, Gonzo, et. al., hadn’t altered the interrogation guidelines for Guantanamo, they never would have migrated to Abu Ghraib with the interrogators when they moved to Iraq–and they never would have been illegally used on legitimate POWs (captured in uniform) in Iraq.

    1. But to be classified as a POW, he’d have to declare himself to be a combatant (or to be in one of the other categories that can be held that way). It isn’t legit for the government to unilaterally declare someone to be a POW.

      If the captured soldiers admit to being soldiers, they can be held as POWs. If the captured soldiers deny being soldiers, then all the government had to do is show that they are soldiers, and bam! War crime – an open-and-shut case. And if the government couldn’t show them to be soldiers, then it sucks to be the government. Either the captured “soldiers” are telling the truth about being innocent non-combatant civilians (in which case the government should let them go) or else they’re getting away with the war crime of lying about their combatant status.

  10. Everybody wants to see Hillary prosecuted, but I haven’t forgotten about the war crimes Gonzo and Rumsfeld unleashed against POWs in Iraq, and no, I don’t buy that England, Graner and company were the only people involved. When the Schlesinger Report on Torture came out, it became clear that all the photographs that came out of Abu Ghraib were of actions that were specifically sanctioned in Rumsfeld’s and Gonzo’s revised interrogation guidelines (they’re listed in the report). And the report detailed how those guidelines were administered and who was responsible.

    Rumsfeld and Gonzo should get all the legal protections they denied to POWs in Iraq and illegal combatants in Afghanistan though–because that’s the difference between decent Americans and rights violating scumbags like Rumsfeld and Gonzo.

    1. They should be sharing a jail cell with their boss, Obama, Hilary, Holder and many others.

      1. Rumsfeld and Gonzo belong in the front of the International Criminal Court.

        I bet Gonzo and Rumsfeld don’t travel outside the country much for fear that they might end up like Pinochet.

  11. “DONALD TRUMP MOUTH RAPES SMALL SMALL CHILD!” screams level-headed “journalist.”

    This Trump moment feels somehow worse. It’s not his own kid, for one thing, so there’s no existing affection or precedent to justify a kiss on the lips. And in the wake of rising accusations of sexual assault, Trump’s repeated kisses were a transparent effort to make himself seem less sleazy, less predatory, and less racist. Trump’s candidacy has succeeded thus far because of his bald appeals to misogyny and racism. Now, he’s using forced physical intimacy with a little black girl, whose humanity Trump has made an entire campaign out of denigrating, to try and convince voters otherwise.

    1. whose humanity Trump has made an entire campaign out of denigrating


    2. Trump is Biden?

      1. Biden… Hitler… pick one.

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