H. Candace Gorman

individual

Overview

  • Civil rights attorney
  • Represented two suspected Islamic terrorists held in detention in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

H. Candace Gorman is a civil rights attorney and the principal of a Chicago-based human rights law firm which, as part of a Center for Constitutional Rights initiative, represented a pair of detainees — Abdel Hamid Ibn Abdussalem Ibn Mifta Al Ghazzawi (of Libya) and Abdal Razak Ali (of Algeria) — who were taken into custody as suspected terrorists by U.S. forces in the Middle East, and who were thereafter transferred to the Guantánamo Bay detention center in Cuba.

Ms. Gorman earned her B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin in 1976 and graduated from John Marshall Law School in January 1983. She is a member of the Bar of the State of Illinois, the American Association for Justice (formerly known as the American Trial Lawyers Association), the American Constitution Society, and the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois.

Gorman took Ghazzawi and Ali — both of whom are in detention because of their ties to al Qaeda and the Taliban — as her clients in 2005 and 2006, respectively. She readily acknowledged her affection for Ali, noting: “I liked him very much, seems he is a Harry Potter fan. I have read all of the books so we talked a lot about the books. He was lamenting the fact that he has not read book six because the [prison] library didn’t have it in Arabic.”

Gorman’s other client, Ghazzawi, was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), which the U.S. government had designated as a foreign terrorist organization. Ghazzawi attended al Qaeda’s Khalden training camp in Afghanistan; he was identified by a senior al Qaeda member as belonging to the LIFG; and he reportedly served as a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden. Ghazzawi was first arrested in 2002 by Afghan intelligence forces.

In an effort to win Ghazzawi’s release, Gorman portrayed her client as a devoted family man whose wife and daughter desperately needed him to return home. She filed numerous motions and appeals, in one instance seeking to secure Ghazzawi’s medical records and get him treated for the HIV virus, hepatitis-B, and tuberculosis, all of which she said her client had contracted at Guantanamo. “Al-Ghazzawi is an innocent civilian,” Gorman said, “… and he will die if he is not given immediate medical care, and yet the American military cannot be bothered … I ask that all of you please contact the American state department and ask them to release this innocent and very ill man.”

Guantánamo detainees were fed prepared meals of high quality, including such items as honey-glazed chicken, lemon-baked fish, and rice pilaf. But Gorman said in January 2007 that this diet “may be a new strategy to fatten them up to make them more complacent prisoners … or at least more lethargic.”

In addition to representing enemy combatants, Gorman also defended protesters arrested during anti-war demonstrations at the start of the Iraq War. “Cindy Sheehan is my hero,” said Gorman.

After September 2006, Gorman wrote occasional blogs for the Huffington Post, where she continued to claim that her clients were innocent and she provided updates on their legal situation. Gorman also administered “The Guantánamo Blog” website, which chronicled her personal journey as a pro bono attorney for accused terrorists, and condemned what she characterized as the injustices that the U.S. government had inflicted on the detainees. In one blog entry, dated December 2006, Gorman reported that she had sought to raise awareness about “the plight of detainees” by wearing an orange jumpsuit similar to those worn at Guantánamo. She added that in the future, she would also “sport a giant button that says ‘ask me about Guantánamo.’”

Gorman has contributed money to the campaigns of a number of political candidates over the years, all of them Democrats. Hillary Clinton, John Conyers, and Carol Moseley Braun have been among the more notable recipients. Gorman also has made donations to the Democratic National Committee Services Corporation, Moveon.org, and ActBlue.

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