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Guantánamo’s Charade of Justice

Last week, we learned that, only months into the job, the official in charge of the military courts system at Guantánamo Bay was stepping down, after judges ruled he had interfered in proceedings. The appointment of an interim replacement was the sixth change of leadership for the tribunals since 2003.

This is yet another setback for the military commissions, as they tackle two of their highest-profile cases: the joint trial of the chief planner of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and four alleged co-conspirators, and the trial of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, accused in the bombing of the American destroyer Cole.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nearly eight years ago, 14 men arrived at Guantánamo after years in Central Intelligence Agency custody. Since then, only one has been tried and convicted with the case upheld on appeal. That was Ahmed Ghailani, a Tanzanian national who received a life sentence for his role in the 1998 bombings of the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 223 people. Mr. Ghailani was tried in federal court in New York, and he is serving his sentence in a federal prison in the United States. His 13 comrades from the C.I.A. detention and interrogation program are still in limbo at Guantánamo, where justice for them and the families of their victims remains elusive.…  Seguir leyendo »

The transfer to civilian custody of accused al Qaeda operative Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, also known as Abu Anas al-Libi, presents the Obama administration with a high-profile opportunity to demonstrate the efficacy of prosecuting terrorist suspects in the U.S. criminal justice system. It also rebuts critics in Congress who maintain that military commissions at Guantanamo Bay are the only sensible venue for terrorism prosecutions.

Al-Libi, who was captured by U.S. military forces in Libya earlier this month, was indicted in 2000 with 20 other defendants in the Southern District of New York for his reputed role in the 1998 terrorist bombings of the U.S…  Seguir leyendo »

George Orwell is usually a footsure guide across political battlegrounds. In late 1943, when the tide had turned in the Allies’ favor, he wrote about postwar trials. Oddly, he advocated Hitler and Mussolini slipping away. His verdict for them would not be death unless the Germans and Italians themselves carried out summary executions (as they eventually did in Mussolini’s case).

He wanted “no martyrizing, no St. Helena business.” Above all, he disdained the idea of a “solemn hypocritical ‘trial of war criminals,’ with all the slow cruel pageantry of the law, which after a lapse of time has so strange a way of focusing a romantic light on the accused and turning a scoundrel into a hero.”…  Seguir leyendo »

The system of military commissions that will try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other alleged 9/11 plotters contains a dirty little secret. Hardly anybody talks about it, but it's a key reason for concern as the apparatus becomes established.

It is this: The commissions can operate inside the United States, and they have jurisdiction over a broad range of crimes. Nothing in the Military Commissions Act limits the military trials to Guantanamo detainees, or to people captured and held abroad, or even to terrorism suspects. Nothing prevents the commissions from trying noncitizens, arrested inside the country, whom the president unilaterally designates as "unprivileged enemy belligerents."…  Seguir leyendo »

It’s official. Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, will be tried by a military commission at Guantanamo Bay.

He will not be tried in Manhattan in the shadow of the World Trade Center. He will not be tried before the vast majority of the victims’ families. Nor will he be tried in any federal court. Instead, he will be tried offshore in a military commission process established in 2009 and yet to be tested. It is likely that he will be convicted of conspiring to plan and commit the attacks of 9/11 and that, he, along with his four co-defendants, the other 9/11 detainees at Guantanamo, will be given life sentences, if not the death penalty.…  Seguir leyendo »

There were fatal flaws in the recent suggestion that Congress should designate Guantanamo Bay part of an existing federal district court or as a separate federal district court so that those accused of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks can be tried there ["Try them in federal court -- at Gitmo," Washington Forum, July 16].

Eugene R. Sullivan, a former chief judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and Louis J. Freeh, a former U.S. District Court judge and director of the FBI, argued that creating, by statute, a civilian district court trial at Guantanamo would provide a fair, independent and universally respected forum, in contrast to "untested and widely questioned" military commissions; deny to Khalid Sheik Mohammed and others a military forum that enhances their image as "warriors"; and avoid the "prohibitive" security costs of a trial elsewhere in the United States.…  Seguir leyendo »

By P. Sabien Willett, one of a number of lawyers representing Guantanamo Bay prisoners on a pro bono basis (THE WASHINGTON POST, 14/11/05):

As the Senate prepared to vote Thursday to abolish the writ of habeas corpus, Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jon Kyl were railing about lawyers like me. Filing lawsuits on behalf of the terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. Terrorists! Kyl must have said the word 30 times.

As I listened, I wished the senators could meet my client Adel.

Adel is innocent. I don't mean he claims to be. I mean the military says so. It held a secret tribunal and ruled that he is not al Qaeda, not Taliban, not a terrorist.…  Seguir leyendo »