Husdon attorney's career leads to Guantanamo

By Tim Troglen | Hudson Hub-Times Published:

When Carlos Warner graduated from the University of Akron in 1997, he had no idea that he would be involved in a case dealing with international terrorism and at the same time working to shut the doors of a prison which has been shrouded in controversy.

Warner, of Hudson, is an assistant federal defender for the Northern District of Ohio and represents Mohammed Rahim al-Afghani, who has been accused, but not charged with helping Osama bin Laden elude capture.

"It is my position that my client should be immediately released," Warner said. "Unfortunately, the government has thus far decided to hold my client indefinitely without charge."

Warner's client is in Guantanamo's Camp 7, a prison unit that holds about 15 men who have been designated "high value" detainees by the U.S. government, according to the Associated Press.

"I never thought this would be my path," Warner said.

One of the lessons Warner learned in college was that "a good lawyer treats every case like it was his own," he said. "I have a passion for what I do and I take my professional responsibility very seriously," Warner said. "This has resulted in me handling many important cases but they all are of the same importance to me."

Warner's passion extends to his current case load, which includes Rahim.

However, little is known publicly about the case.

"I am prohibited from discussing specifics of his case," Warner said. "I can be prosecuted criminally if I confirm or deny almost any fact regarding my client."

A public document filed in federal court by the government gives a broad outline of facts concerning Warner's client and a time line of alleged activities, according to the Associated Press. According to the documents, Rahim is about 47 years old and was born in eastern Afghanistan. He fled with his family over the border to Pakistan when the Soviet Union invaded in 1979.

Rahim has told authorities that he returned temporarily to fight the invaders in a war that killed two of his brothers, and moved back permanently once the Soviets retreated from the country.

However, the Justice Department alleges Rahim began helping the Taliban in the 1990s and that job morphed into working for al-Qaida. It cites two other prisoners and an undisclosed source identifying Rahim as a close associate of bin Laden. Rahim was captured in Pakistan in 2007 and turned over to the CIA, in whose custody he was allegedly subjected to prolonged sleep deprivation. He was transferred to Guantanamo in March 2008, according to the Associated Press.

Warner contends his client should be released and given his "day in court."

In order to bring national attention to his client and in hopes of securing his release, Warner has released a series of letters from Rahim which contain references to Howard Stern, Fox News and the global video hit of South Korean singer PSY.

"I released the letters because they demonstrate the jovial personality of my client and also will help to educate the public about my client and about Guantanamo generally," Warner said. "I believe his musings force people to challenge their beliefs about the kind of individuals detained in Guantanamo."

One letter, written to Warner tells the attorney "If you play basketball with Obama, take him to the post. You are bigger, stronger and younger."

Another letter mentions one of the problems Rahim sees with America -- "too many reward cards."

"He has a point with the reward cards," Warner said. "In Hudson alone I have to keep track of Ace, Discount Drug Mart, Acme Fresh Foods, Dave's Cosmic Subs Heinen's and LuLu's -- one card would be way more convenient."

The letters contain several typographical errors and references to American slang.

In another letter, Rahim, who is multilingual, tells Warner that he has adopted a banana rat, a rodent commonly spotted around the U.S. base in Cuba.

"Tell the guards to leave my friend alone," Rahim wrote. "They need to chillax."

In another letter, Rahim makes reference to sitcom characters from the 1970s, "Flo and Snyder."

"I never thought I'd be in a dungeon in Cuba talking about Snyder, that's for sure," Warner said Jan. 9.

About the prison, which Warner is trying to get closed, he said "some Hudsonites do not understand that Guantanamo is still open -- they assume President Obama closed the prison."

"Many Hudsonites believe all the men detained in Guantanamo are 'terrorists,'" Warner said. "I want the readers to know this is not the case."

Between trips to Washington, D.C., and Cuba, Warner unwinds by playing bridge with family and friends, he said.

Warner belongs to a group which plays monthly called the "Kings and Queens."

"I consider myself an intermediate level player," Warner said.

Warner has not been able to explain the game to his client, due to the complexity, he said.

And while a sit-down at home over a card table cannot be compared to a sit-down in a prison dungeon, Warner said he can draw one comparison.

"Meetings in Guantanamo are filled with sorrow because of the dire circumstances that the clients face," Warner said. "Bridge games are filled with sorrow when a player partners with their spouse."

Email: ttroglen@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9435

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