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Thread: Military Prosecutors Set To Open Major 9/11 Case

  1. #1
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    Military Prosecutors Set To Open Major 9/11 Case

    Military Prosecutors Set to Open Major 9/11 Case

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/09/us/09gitmo.html?hp

    (Gold9472: Interesting decision by the Times to report on Ms. Lemack's call for justice, and to ignore Mrs. O'Connor's, Ms. Little's, Ms. Kminek's, Mrs. Van Auken's, Mrs. Kleinberg's, Mrs. Casazza's, Mrs. Gabrielle's, Mr. McIlvaine's and many others call for the very same thing.)

    By WILLIAM GLABERSON
    Published: February 9, 2008

    Military prosecutors are in the final phases of preparing the first sweeping case against suspected conspirators in the plot that led to the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001, and drew the United States into war, people who have been briefed on the case said.

    The charges, to be filed in the military commission system at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, would involve as many as six detainees held at the detention camp, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the former senior aide to Osama bin Laden, who has said he was the principal planner of the plot.

    The case could begin to fulfill a longtime goal of the Bush administration: establishing culpability for the terrorist attacks of 2001. It could also help the administration make its case that some detainees at Guantánamo, where 275 men remain, would pose a threat if they are not held at Guantánamo or elsewhere. Officials have long said that a half-dozen men held at Guantánamo played essential roles in the plot directed by Mr. Mohammed, from would-be hijackers to financiers.

    But the case would also bring new scrutiny to the military commission system, which has a troubled history and has been criticized as a system designed to win convictions but that does not provide the legal protections of American civilian courts.

    War-crimes charges against the men would almost certainly place the prosecutors in a battle over the treatment of inmates because at least two detainees tied to the 2001 terror attacks were subject to aggressive interrogation techniques that critics say amounted to torture.

    One official who has been briefed on the case said the military prosecutors were considering seeking the death penalty for Mr. Mohammed, although no final decision appears to have been made. The official added that the military prosecutors had decided to focus on the Sept. 11 attacks in part as an effort to try to establish credibility for the military commission system before a new administration takes the White House next January.

    “The thinking was 9/11 is the heart and soul of the whole thing. The thinking was: go for that,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because no one in the government was authorized to speak about the case. Even if the charges are released soon, it would be many months before a trial could be held, lawyers said.

    A Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, declined to comment specifically. But he added that the government was preparing a case against “individuals who have been involved in some of the most grievous acts of violence and terror against the United States and our allies.”

    “The prosecution team is close to moving forward on referring charges on a number of individuals,” Mr. Whitman said.

    Ever since President Bush announced in 2006 that he had transferred 14 “high value” detainees to Guantánamo from a secret C.I.A. detention program, it has been expected that the Pentagon would eventually lodge charges involving several of the numerous terror plots to which officials say several of those men were tied.

    Officials have said detainees now held at Guantánamo are responsible for attacks that killed thousands of people, including the United States Embassy bombings in East Africa in 1998, the attack on the destroyer Cole in 2000, and the Bali nightclub bombing in 2002.

    But it has always been clear that a case involving the Sept. 11 plot would be the centerpiece of the military commissions system and its most stringent test. After the Supreme Court struck down the Bush administration’s first system for military commission trials in 2006, Congress enacted a new law.

    Among other things, the Military Commissions Act provides that detainees charged with war crimes are entitled to military lawyers to defend them, a presumption of innocence and a right of appeal. But detainees’ lawyers and other critics have said that many flaws remain, including the fact that the system is under Pentagon control and even the judges are military officers.

    Told of the possible charges, Carie Lemack, whose mother was killed on American Airlines Flight 11, said such a trial would be a grueling process for the families. But, Ms. Lemack said, “It is important that justice be brought to those who killed my mother and nearly 3,000 others.”

    It was not clear Friday whether final decisions had been made about precise charges and which detainees are to be included.

    But it is known that the prosecutors have considered charges of murder, conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism because of the Sept. 11 deaths. It is also known that a joint team of military and Department of Justice lawyers working on the case have considered charging six of the best-known Guantánamo detainees.

    Lawyers have said that two of those are men whose treatment in American hands would inevitably be a focus of defense lawyers in their cases.

    One of them, Mr. Mohammed, known as KSM, was subject to the simulated-drowning technique known as waterboarding while in secret C.I.A. custody, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, confirmed this week.

    The American-educated Mr. Mohammed was described by the Sept. 11 commission as the “self-cast star, the superterrorist,” with plans for destruction on a vast scale. At a Pentagon hearing last year, he claimed responsibility for more than 30 terrorist attacks and plots.

    He was explicit about his role in the 2001 attacks. “I was responsible for the 9/11 operation, from A to Z,” he said.

    The other detainee whose treatment could become a focus of any trial is Mohammed al-Qahtani, who has been held at Guantánamo since 2002. Pentagon officials have said he may have been the so-called “20th hijacker.” A month before the attacks, he flew from Dubai to Orlando, Fla., but was denied entry into the United States by an immigration official.

    Pentagon investigators concluded in 2005 that he had been subject to abusive treatment at Guantánamo, including sleep deprivation, being forced to wear a bra and being led around on a leash.

    Gitanjali Gutierrez, one of Mr. al-Qahtani’s lawyers at the Center for Constitutional Rights, said she had no information about whether he would be charged. “But if he is,” Ms. Gutierrez said, “I can assure you that his well-documented torture and the controversy over secret trials will be the focus.”

    Zacarias Moussaoui, who at one point was identified by prosecutors as a potential “20th hijacker” pleaded guilty to conspiracy in 2005, and is serving a life term. He is the only person who has been tried in a United States court for involvement in the Sept. 11 plot.

    Defense lawyers are also expected to use any commission cases to challenge the prosecutors over the C.I.A.’s destruction of tapes of interrogations of two detainees, which has been acknowledged by the agency.

    Among the other four potential defendants are Guantánamo detainees who intelligence officials have said played critical support roles for the hijackers.

    Officials say Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who had been a roommate of the lead hijacker Mohamed Atta in Hamburg, Germany, was the main intermediary between the hijackers and Al Qaeda leaders in the months before Sept. 11.

    The Pentagon has described another detainee, Ammar al-Baluchi, a nephew of Mr. Mohammed, as “a key lieutenant for KSM during the operation on 11 September” who wired $114,500 to the hijackers.

    Mr. al-Baluchi’s assistant was Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, according to various accounts. The September 11 commission said that Mr. al-Hawsawi had been assigned by Mr. Mohammed to help coordinate hijackers’ travel and was so centrally involved that he was their contact for unused money to be returned in the days before the attacks.

    Finally, the detainee known as Khallad, who is missing part of his right leg as a result of what officials say is a long jihadist history, is believed to have had long ties to Mr. bin Laden. Officials have said Khallad helped select and train some of the hijackers and was originally slated to have been one of them himself.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  2. #2
    simuvac Guest
    Just in time for the election.

    And it's a fraudulent "military commission" instead of a real trial.

  3. #3
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    They changed the title of the story to "6 Guantánamo Detainees Are Said to Face Trial Over 9/11". I wonder if it was to take the word "Military" out of the title?

    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  4. #4
    simuvac Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Gold9472
    They changed the title of the story to "6 Guantánamo Detainees Are Said to Face Trial Over 9/11". I wonder if it was to take the word "Military" out of the title?

    The new title includes the word "trial," which this is not. It is a military tribunal.

  5. #5
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    US lawyers offer compromise to question 9/11 mastermind

    http://www.gulfnews.com/world/U.S.A/10188471.html

    AP
    Published: February 10, 2008, 00:45

    Guantanamo Bay: US Naval base, Cuba (Reuters) Military lawyers defending Osama Bin Laden's former driver on terrorism charges in the US war court at Guantanamo Bay have offered a compromise in their quest to interview September 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammad.

    They promised not to ask Mohammad about his treatment in US custody or about the CIA's admission that it subjected him to a simulated drowning technique (waterboarding) during interrogations.

    Bin Laden's former driver, Salim Ahmad Hamdan, was captured in Afghanistan in November 2001 and faces life in prison if convicted in the Guantanamo court of conspiring with Al Qaida and providing material support for terrorism. The Yemeni man said he never joined Al Qaida, had no advance knowledge of its attacks and became Bin Laden's driver in Afghanistan because he needed the salary of $200 per month. Hamdan's lawyers said Mohammad - the highest-ranking Al Qaida leader held at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - can help their defence by telling them what role, if any, Hamdan had in the organisation.

    Two captives charged
    US military prosecutors have filed war crimes charges against two more Guantanamo prisoners, saying Ali Hamza Ahmad Suliman Al Bahlul was an Al Qaida videographer and Ebrahim Mahmoud Al Qosi was a driver and bodyguard for Osama Bin Laden. That brings to seven the number of captives charged in the revised system of military tribunals created to try non-US citizens held at the US Navy base in Cuba.

    Guantanamo initiative: Classes and movies
    Seeking to ease conditions for angry and frustrated detainees, the commander of Guantanamo's prison camps has instituted language classes and a literacy programme, plans humanities courses and wants to open communal areas for men now held in isolation 22 hours a day.

    Army Colonel Bruce Vargo said he hopes the changes will lead to fewer attacks on guards by the 275 prisoners suspected of links to Al Qaida and the Taliban.

    Some of the best-behaved detainees now get TV night, with DVDs of movies and TV shows shown on a high-definition Sony TV.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  6. #6
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    Let us talk to Sept 11 planner, U.S. lawyers ask

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080208/...uantanamo_dc_1

    By Jane Sutton Fri Feb 8, 4:43 PM ET

    GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - Military lawyers defending Osama bin Laden's former driver on terrorism charges in the U.S. war court at Guantanamo Bay have offered a compromise in their quest to interview September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

    They promised not to ask Mohammed about his treatment in U.S. custody or about the CIA's admission that it subjected him to a simulated drowning technique known as "waterboarding" during interrogations.

    Bin Laden's former driver, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, was captured in Afghanistan in November 2001 and faces life in prison if convicted in the Guantanamo court of conspiring with al Qaeda and providing material support for terrorism.

    The Yemeni man said he never joined al Qaeda, had no advance knowledge of its attacks and became bin Laden's driver in Afghanistan because he needed the salary of $200 per month.

    Hamdan's lawyers said Mohammed -- the highest-ranking al Qaeda leader held at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- can help their defense by telling them what role, if any, Hamdan had in the organization.

    They likened it to somebody "on trial for organized crime and you've got the opportunity to bring in the godfather."

    The request was still pending when a pretrial hearing ended on Thursday but the military judge suggested he might at least let the lawyers question Mohammed via written notes.

    The judge is expected to rule in the next couple of weeks and Hamdan is scheduled to go to trial in May. So far, only one captive -- an Australian man -- has been convicted by the widely criticized court and that was in a plea bargain.

    TOO DANGEROUS
    Prosecutors said Mohammed, accused of masterminding the attacks on the United States by al Qaeda militants on September 11, 2001, was too dangerous an enemy in an ongoing war to allow defense lawyers to go on "a fishing expedition."

    "The defense is asking for access to some of the most notorious terrorists the world has ever seen," said one of the prosecutors, Air Force Lt. Col. William Britt.

    There was a risk of endangering U.S. agents if Mohammed revealed to the defense lawyers the sources and methods the government used to get information from him, prosecutors said.

    The CIA has acknowledged using waterboarding, which critics say is a form of illegal torture, on Mohammed and two other senior al Qaeda leaders who were later sent to Guantanamo.

    The defense lawyers, one of whom has top clearance to view government secrets, said they disapproved of waterboarding but would not ask Mohammed about it or about anything that occurred after the September 11 attacks.

    Mohammed is one of 15 "high-value" al Qaeda prisoners held separately from the other 260 non-U.S. captives at Guantanamo in a facility whose location is kept secret even from the officers who run the other detention camps.

    Prosecutors also objected to defense requests to question six other high-value prisoners.

    "Equally wrapped up in secret tape, eh?" asked the judge, Navy Capt. Keith Allred.

    He said the defense had shown adequate need to question Mohammed and suggested they conduct the interview via written questions and answers, which the prosecutors also opposed.

    The United States set up the Guantanamo tribunals to try suspected terrorists after the September 11 attacks but so far, none of the handful of prisoners facing charges has been accused of direct involvement in the attacks.

    No defense lawyer has been allowed access to the high-value group, which was brought to Guantanamo in 2006 after about three years in secret CIA custody.

    One of Hamdan's lawyers, retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, said that raised a crucial question about U.S. plans to try those important figures.

    "Who is going to represent Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and when will his trial be?" Swift said. (Editing by John O'Callaghan)
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  7. #7
    simuvac Guest
    I'm guessing the answer is going to be, "No."

  8. #8
    simuvac Guest
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/11/us...gewanted=print

    February 11, 2008
    U.S. Said to Seek Execution for 6 in Sept. 11 Case

    By WILLIAM GLABERSON
    Military prosecutors have decided to seek the death penalty for six Guantánamo detainees who are to be charged with central roles in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, government officials who have been briefed on the charges said Sunday.

    The officials said the charges would be announced at the Pentagon as soon as Monday and were likely to include numerous war-crimes charges against the six men, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the former Qaeda operations chief who has described himself as the mastermind of the attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

    A Defense Department official said prosecutors were seeking the death penalty because “if any case warrants it, it would be for individuals who were parties to a crime of that scale.” The officials spoke anonymously because no one in the government was authorized to speak about the case.

    A decision to seek the death penalty would increase the international focus on the case and present new challenges to the troubled military commission system that has yet to begin a single trial.

    “The system hasn’t been able to handle the less-complicated cases it has been presented with to date,” said David Glazier, a former Navy officer who is a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

    In addition to Mr. Mohammed, the other five to be charged include detainees officials say were coordinators and intermediaries in the plot, among them a man labeled the “20th hijacker,” who was denied entry to the United States in the month before the attacks.

    Under the rules of the Guantánamo war-crimes system, the military prosecutors can designate charges as capital when they present them, and it is that first phase of the process that is expected this week. The military official who then reviews them, Susan J. Crawford, a former military appeals court judge, has the authority to accept or reject a death-penalty request.

    A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment on Sunday.

    Some officials briefed on the case have said the prosecutors view their task in seeking convictions for the Sept. 11 attacks as a historic challenge. A special group of military and Justice Department lawyers has been working on the case for several years.

    Even if the detainees are convicted on capital charges, any execution would be many months or, perhaps years, from being carried out, lawyers said, in part because a death sentence would have to be scrutinized by civilian appeals courts.

    Federal officials have said in recent months that there is no death chamber at the detention camp at the United States naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and that they knew of no specific plans for how a death sentence would be carried out.

    The military justice system, which does not govern the Guantánamo cases, provides for execution by lethal injection in death sentence convictions. But the United States military has rarely executed a prisoner in recent times.

    The last military execution was in 1961, when an Army private, John A. Bennett, was hanged after being convicted of rape and attempted murder. Currently, there are six service members appealing military death sentences, according to a recently published article by a lawyer who specializes in military capital cases, Dwight H. Sullivan, a former chief military defense lawyer at Guántanamo.

    One official who had been briefed on the war-crimes case said the charges were expected to be lodged against six detainees held at Guantánamo, including Mr. Mohammed, who is said to have presented the idea of an airliner attack on the United States to Osama bin Laden in 1999 and then coordinated its planning.

    The official identified the others to be charged as Mohammed al-Qahtani, the man officials have labeled the 20th hijacker; Ramzi bin al-Shibh, said to have been the main intermediary between the hijackers and leaders of Al Qaeda; Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, known as Ammar al-Baluchi, a nephew of Mr. Mohammed, who has been identified as Mr. Mohammed’s lieutenant for the 2001 operation; Mr. al-Baluchi’s assistant, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi; and Walid bin Attash, a detainee known as Khallad, who investigators say selected and trained some of the hijackers.

    Relatives of the Sept. 11 victims have expressed differing views of potential death sentences, with some arguing that it would accomplish little other than martyring men for whom martyrdom may be viewed as a reward.

    But on Sunday, Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles F. Burlingame III was the pilot of the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 that was crashed into the Pentagon, said she would approve of an effort by prosecutors to seek the execution of men she blames for killing her brother. Ms. Burlingame said such a case could help refocus the public’s attention on what she called the calculated brutality of the attacks, which she said has been largely forgotten.

    “My opinion is,” she said, “if the death of 3,000 people isn’t sufficient for a death penalty in this country, then why do we even have the death penalty?”

    Lawyers said a prosecution move to seek the death penalty in six cases that will draw worldwide attention was risky. They said it would increase the stakes at Guantánamo partly by amplifying the attention internationally to cases that would draw intense attention in any event.

    The military commission system has been troubled almost from the start, when it was set up in an order by President Bush in November 2001. It has been beset by legal challenges and practical difficulties, including a 2006 decision by the Supreme Court striking down the administration’s first system at Guantánamo. Although officials have spoken of charging 80 or more detainees with war crimes, so far only one case has been completed, and that was through a plea bargain.

    Eric M. Freedman, a Hofstra University law professor who has been a consultant to detainees’ lawyers, said a decision to seek the death penalty would magnify the attention on each of the many steps in a capital case. Intense scrutiny, he said, “would be drawn to the proceedings both legally and politically from around the world.”

    Some countries have been critical of the United States’ use of the death penalty in civilian cases, and a request for execution in the military commission system would import much of that criticism to the already heated debates about the legitimacy of Guantánamo and the Bush administration’s legal approach there, some lawyers said.

    Tom Fleener, an Army Reserve major who was until recently a military defense lawyer at Guantánamo, said that bringing death penalty cases in the military commission system would bog down the untested system. He noted that many legal questions remain unanswered at Guantánamo, including how much of the trials will be conducted in closed, secret proceedings; how the military judges will handle evidence obtained by interrogators’ coercive tactics; and whether the judges will require experienced death-penalty lawyers to take part in such cases.

    “Neither the system is ready, nor are the defense attorneys ready to do a death penalty case in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba,” Major Fleener said.

    Professor Glazier of Loyola said the military commission system was devised to avoid many of the hurdles that have slowed civilian capital cases. Still, he said, he expected intense scrutiny and criticism of such cases that could slow proceedings.

    In any event, vigorous trial battles and appeals would probably mean that no execution would be imminent. “It certainly seems impossible to get this done by the end of the Bush administration,” Professor Glazier said.

  9. #9
    simuvac Guest

    U.S. Presents Charges Against 6 in Sept. 11 Case

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/11/wa...gewanted=print

    February 11, 2008
    U.S. Presents Charges Against 6 in Sept. 11 Case

    By WILLIAM GLABERSON
    WASHINGTON — Six Guantánamo detainees who are accused of central roles in the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, will be shown all the evidence against them and will be afforded the same rights as American soldiers accused of crimes, the Pentagon said Monday as it announced the charges against them.

    Military prosecutors will seek the death penalty for the six Guantánamo detainees on charges including conspiracy and murder “in violation of the law of war,” attacking civilians and civilian targets, terrorism and support of terrorism, Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann of the Air Force, legal adviser to the Defense Department’s Office of Military Commissions, said at a Pentagon news briefing.

    General Hartmann said it would be up to the trial judge how to handle evidence obtained through controversial interrogation techniques like “waterboarding,” or simulated drowning. Critics have said the harsh techniques, which are believed to have been used on several of the defendants, amount to torture.

    As expected, the six include Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the former Qaeda operations chief who has described himself as the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

    “The accused are, and will remain, innocent unless proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” General Hartmann said.

    Altogether, the defendants and others not yet charged are believed to have committed 169 “overt acts” in furtherance of the attacks, General Hartmann said. The charges are being translated into the native language of each of the accused and will soon be served on them, he said.

    A Defense Department official said in advance of the announcement that prosecutors were seeking the death penalty because, “if any case warrants it, it would be for individuals who were parties to a crime of that scale.” The terror attacks, in which civilian airliners were hijacked and deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, were the deadliest in American history.

    The decision to seek the death penalty will no doubt increase the international focus on the case and present new challenges to the troubled military commission system that has yet to begin a single trial. The death penalty is an issue that has caused friction for decades between the United States and many of its allies who consider capital punishment barbaric.

    “The system hasn’t been able to handle the less-complicated cases it has been presented with to date,” said David Glazier, a former Navy officer who is a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

    In addition to Mr. Mohammed, the other five being charged include detainees who officials say were coordinators and intermediaries in the plot, among them a man labeled the “20th hijacker,” who was denied entry to the United States in the month before the attacks.

    Under the rules of the Guantánamo war-crimes system, the military prosecutors can designate charges as capital when they present them, and it is that first phase of the process that is expected this week. The military official who then reviews them, Susan J. Crawford, a former military appeals court judge, has the authority to accept or reject a death-penalty request.

    General Hartmann said he could not predict when actual trials would begin, but that pretrial procedures would take several months at least. He said the accused will enjoy the same rights that members of the American military enjoy, and that the proceedings will be “as completely open as possible,” notwithstanding the occasional need to protect classified information.

    In no sense will the proceedings be secret, the general said. “Every piece of evidence, every stitch of evidence, every whiff of evidence” will be available to the defendants, General Hartmann said.

    Some officials briefed on the case have said the prosecutors view their task in seeking convictions for the Sept. 11 attacks as a historic challenge. A special group of military and Justice Department lawyers has been working on the case for several years.

    Even if the detainees are convicted on capital charges, any execution would be many months or, perhaps years, from being carried out, lawyers have said, in part because a death sentence would have to be scrutinized by civilian appeals courts.

    Federal officials have said in recent months that there is no death chamber at the detention camp at the United States naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and that they knew of no specific plans for how a death sentence would be carried out.

    The military justice system, which does not govern the Guantánamo cases, provides for execution by lethal injection in death sentence convictions. But the United States military has rarely executed a prisoner in recent times.

    The last military execution was in 1961, when an Army private, John A. Bennett, was hanged after being convicted of rape and attempted murder. Currently, there are six service members appealing military death sentences, according to a recently published article by a lawyer who specializes in military capital cases, Dwight H. Sullivan, a former chief military defense lawyer at Guantánamo.

    General Hartmann said Mr. Mohammed is believed to have presented the idea of an airliner attack on the United States to Osama bin Laden in 1999 and then coordinated its planning.

    The others being charged are Mohammed al-Qahtani, the man officials have labeled the 20th hijacker; Ramzi bin al-Shibh, said to have been the main intermediary between the hijackers and leaders of Al Qaeda; Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, known as Ammar al-Baluchi, a nephew of Mr. Mohammed, who has been identified as Mr. Mohammed’s lieutenant for the 2001 operation; Mr. al-Baluchi’s assistant, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi; and Walid bin Attash, a detainee known as Khallad, who investigators say selected and trained some of the hijackers.

    Ramzi bin al-Shibh was supposed to have been a 20th hijacker, and made a videotape portraying himself as a martyr, General Hartmann said. But he was unable to obtain a United States visa, and so had to content himself with helping the eventual hijackers find flight schools and with carrying out financial transactions to further the plot, the general said.

    Relatives of the Sept. 11 victims have expressed differing views of potential death sentences, with some arguing that it would accomplish little other than martyring men for whom martyrdom may be viewed as a reward.

    But on Sunday, Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles F. Burlingame III was the pilot of the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 that was crashed into the Pentagon, said she would approve of an effort by prosecutors to seek the execution of men she blames for killing her brother. Ms. Burlingame said such a case could help refocus the public’s attention on what she called the calculated brutality of the attacks, which she said has been largely forgotten.

    “My opinion is,” she said, “if the death of 3,000 people isn’t sufficient for a death penalty in this country, then why do we even have the death penalty?”

    Lawyers said a prosecution move to seek the death penalty in six cases that will draw worldwide attention was risky. They said it would increase the stakes at Guantánamo partly by amplifying the attention internationally to cases that would draw intense attention in any event.

    The military commission system has been troubled almost from the start, when it was set up in an order by President Bush in November 2001. It has been beset by legal challenges and practical difficulties, including a 2006 decision by the Supreme Court striking down the administration’s first system at Guantánamo. Although officials have spoken of charging 80 or more detainees with war crimes, so far only one case has been completed, and that was through a plea bargain.

    Eric M. Freedman, a Hofstra University law professor who has been a consultant to detainees’ lawyers, said a decision to seek the death penalty would magnify the attention on each of the many steps in a capital case. Intense scrutiny, he said, “would be drawn to the proceedings both legally and politically from around the world.”

    Some countries have been critical of the United States’ use of the death penalty in civilian cases, and a request for execution in the military commission system would import much of that criticism to the already heated debates about the legitimacy of Guantánamo and the Bush administration’s legal approach there, some lawyers said.

    Tom Fleener, an Army Reserve major who was until recently a military defense lawyer at Guantánamo, said that bringing death penalty cases in the military commission system would bog down the untested system. He noted that many legal questions remain unanswered at Guantánamo, including how much of the trials will be conducted in closed, secret proceedings; how the military judges will handle evidence obtained by interrogators’ coercive tactics; and whether the judges will require experienced death-penalty lawyers to take part in such cases.

    “Neither the system is ready, nor are the defense attorneys ready to do a death penalty case in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba,” Major Fleener said.

    Professor Glazier of Loyola said the military commission system was devised to avoid many of the hurdles that have slowed civilian capital cases. Still, he said, he expected intense scrutiny and criticism of such cases that could slow proceedings.

    In any event, vigorous trial battles and appeals would probably mean that no execution would be imminent. “It certainly seems impossible to get this done by the end of the Bush administration,” Professor Glazier said.

    General Hartmann said nothing to counter that impression. Asked whether executions would take place at Guantánamo or elsewhere, he noted that a defendant who is convicted will have the right to several levels of appeal. “So we are a long way from determining the details of the death penalty, and when that time comes, if it should ever come at all, we will follow the law at that time and the procedures that are in place at that time,” the general said.

    David Stout contributed reporting from Washington.

  10. #10
    simuvac Guest
    With these guys dead.... much of the truth dies with them.

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