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

  1. #91
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Bin Laden's driver is in the dock, but America's war on terror is on trial
    The first military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay begins tomorrow. Its outcome will determine far more than the fate of a minor al-Qa'ida figure

    By Leonard Doyle in Washington
    Sunday, 20 July 2008

    Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's personal driver, will enter a specially built courtroom in Guantanamo Bay tomorrow for the first full trial of any of the hundreds of detainees to have been sent to America's infamous prison camp since the 9/11 attacks nearly seven years ago.

    Instead of one of al-Qa'ida's top leaders in captivity – such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – the accused in the first US military tribunal since the Second World War is a 39-year-old Yemeni, whose lawyers say he belongs on a psychiatric ward rather than in jail. Heightening the irony, a military judge has overruled prosecutors and decided that Mr Hamdan's lawyers can question the alleged mastermind of the September 2001 attacks and other possible witnesses about the driver. The judge threatened to delay the trial if prosecutors did not arrange this over the weekend.

    Even the US does not claim that the driver and sometime mechanic, who earned a mere $200 (£100) a month, was a major terror figure. But prosecutors allege that he carried weapons used by al-Qai'da and helped to spirit Bin Laden out of Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban. If convicted, he could find himself in prison for life.

    For many, however, it is the erosion of America's historic liberties that will be on trial tomorrow. The Bush administration created a system of detention without due process when it set up the Guantanamo prison camp in 2002, a legal limbo in which hundreds of detainees – including Mr Hamdan, according to his lawyers – have suffered psychological and possibly physical torture. The driver is alleged to have gone mad as a direct result of being kept in solitary confinement for 22 hours a day in a tiny cell; he is hardly the ideal subject for the first major test of President George Bush's much-criticised system of military commissions to bring terrorism suspects to justice.

    Mr Hamdan left his home in Yemen in 1996 and tried to sign on as an Islamist fighter in Tajikistan, but could not get into the country. The US says he went to Afghanistan instead, and ended up working for Bin Laden. After the terror attacks on New York and Washington, Mr Hamdan drove al-Qa'ida's supreme leader between safe houses to avoid US missiles, according to prosecutors, who say he broke away a month later and evacuated his daughter and pregnant wife from Kandahar in the midst of the invasion.

    It is not only Mr Hamdan's future that will be determined by the trial. There is great concern among members of the Bush administration that they too could find themselves before foreign or international courts for the role they played in facilitating and encouraging the torture of detainees.

    The infamous "torture memos" circulated by Vice-President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Charles Addington, and two former administration figures, Douglas Feith and Alberto Gonzales, covertly approved the abuse of prisoners by the CIA. These men were publicly warned recently by Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Colin Powell when Mr Powell was Secretary of State, to "never travel outside the US, except perhaps to Saudi Arabia or Israel".

    One of the most explosive parts of the trial could be the efforts by the defence to show in coming weeks that Pentagon officials interfered with military prosecutors and pressed cases for strictly political reasons. Hearings on that issue are expected to reveal how White House officials and aides of Mr Cheney were on the phone to Guantanamo – in a way, some claim, that made a mockery of American military justice. The former chief Guantanamo prosecutor, Colonel Morris Davis, a harsh critic of the way the war crimes tribunal system is run, could even testify for Mr Hamdan.

    Since the US designated its naval base at the tip of Cuba as a place to imprison some of its greatest enemies, about 800 people have been held at Guantanamo, and some 420 have been released back to their countries without charge. The oldest known suspect imprisoned there was 95-year-old Mohammed Sadiq from Afghanistan, who has been released. The youngest is Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who was just 16 years old when he was captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2002.

    A grainy video of a weeping Mr Khadr, who is still being held, emerged last week, providing an unprecedented glimpse into the harsh conditions at Guantanamo. Now 21, he was shown being interrogated for three days by Canadian intelligence agents after he had been tortured by sleep deprivation for three weeks. The longest portion of the video, an eight-minute segment, shows a sobbing Mr Khadr, burying his head in his hands and moaning "Help me, help me" as the agents look on.

    The footage, from a camera hidden behind a ventilation shaft, is the first video of a Guantanamo interrogation to become public. It was obtained under court order by Mr Khadr's Canadian lawyers, who want to bring him home. But neither the US nor the Canadian government wants to see him released. The US military accuses him of killing a soldier with a grenade and injuring another. However, efforts to persuade military courts that he is an "enemy combatant" were thrown out last year.

    As for Mr Hamdan, he is "small fry, a grunt, and Bush knows it", said Marc Falkoff, a lawyer representing several other Yemeni detainees. "But the administration was never going to bring one of its high-profile detainees out first when nobody quite knows what's going to happen in this brand-new legal process."

    The military commissions were created to try people designated "unlawful enemy combatants" after the Supreme Court issued a stinging rebuke to the Bush administration in June 2006 for tearing up the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of war and denying the most basic right of habeas corpus to prisoners. Despite the international clamour against Guantanamo, the US has charged only 20 of its prisoners, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was tortured by "waterboarding" before arriving at the camp. One detainee, David Hicks, accepted a plea bargain in 2007, served nine months and is now free in his native Australia.

    Mr Hamdan is suicidal and hears voices. He talks incessantly to himself and says that living alone inside a metal cell and never being allowed to see the sun "boils his mind". The isolation in which prisoners are held is blamed for driving them out of their minds with despair.

    "He will shout at us; he will bang his fists on the table," said his military-appointed defence lawyer, Lieutenant Commander Brian Mizer. His attempts to stop the case until his client is granted more humane conditions, enabling him to prepare his defence, were rejected last week. The authorities complain that Mr Hamdan was far from a model inmate and that he routinely spat at guards and threw urine.

    Guantanamo inmates face more time in isolation than many on Death Row in the US, say experts on American prison conditions. But the camp's spokeswoman, Commander Pauline Storum, claims that detainees are more psychologically robust than the ordinary US prison population, with fewer than 10 per cent mentally ill, compared with 50 per cent of the inmates in US jails. Nor is there is solitary confinement in Guantanamo, she adds, only "single-occupancy cells", and in any event prisoners communicate with each other by banging on their walls.

    Lawyers handling some 80 war crimes cases are closely watching Mr Hamdan's trial. "The issue of mistreatment of prisoners, the miserable lives they live in these cells, will come up in every case," says Clive Stafford Smith, the British lawyer who is representing 35 detainees. In April, when Mr Hamdan appeared before the navy captain acting as his military judge, he announced that he would boycott his trial, crying out: "There is no such thing as justice here!" The judge told him to have faith in US law, declaring: "You have already been to the Supreme Court [in Washington]."

    But the prisoner corrected him. While his lawyers had won a famous victory over the Bush administration in a case known as Hamdan vs Rumsfeld, he had not left Guantanamo. Instead, in more than six years of incarceration, he has made exactly two phone calls to his family back in Yemen, and received no visits. He has been punished for having a Snickers bar in his cell that his lawyers gave him and for stockpiling too many pairs of socks.

    "Conditions are asphalt, excrement and worse," he wrote to his lawyers. "Why, why, why?"

    The echoes of Hamdan vs Rumsfeld are still rumbling through the legal system. While Mr Cheney's adviser called efforts to apply the protections of the Geneva Conventions to prisoners "an abomination", the Supreme Court ruled emphatically that the administration had to abide by these laws in its war on terror. Even in wartime, the court said, the President was bound by laws and treaties, including the Geneva Conventions. The administration had no right to impose military commissions unilaterally, with rules made up in the White House.

    So under pressure from President Bush, the 2006 Military Commissions Act was passed by Congress. This is what will finally be tested tomorrow. The Supreme Court has given Mr Hamdan the opportunity to challenge his status as an "enemy combatant" by presenting "reasonably available" evidence and witnesses to a panel of three commissioned officers, while being represented by a military officer.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #92
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    Jan 2005
    Gitmo judge: No 'coercive' questioning evidence
    Military jurist bars some statements in case against former bin Laden driver

    updated 8:08 p.m. ET, Mon., July. 21, 2008

    GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba - The judge in the first American war crimes trial since World War II barred evidence on Monday that interrogators obtained from Osama bin Laden's driver following his capture in Afghanistan.

    Prosecutors are considering whether to appeal the judge's ruling — a development that could halt the trial of Salim Hamdan that began earlier Monday after years of delays and legal setbacks.

    "We need to evaluate ... to what extent it has an impact on our ability to fully portray his criminality in this case, but also what it might set out for future cases," said Army Col. Lawrence Morris, the tribunals' chief prosecutor.

    Hamdan, who was captured at a roadblock in Afghanistan in November 2001, pleaded not guilty at the start of a trial that will be closely watched as the first full test of the Pentagon's system for prosecuting alleged terrorists. He faces a maximum life sentence if convicted of conspiracy and aiding terrorism.

    The judge, Navy Capt. Keith Allred, said the prosecution cannot use a series of interrogations at the Bagram air base and Panshir, Afghanistan, because of the "highly coercive environments and conditions under which they were made."

    At Bagram, Hamdan says he was kept in isolation 24 hours a day with his hands and feet restrained, and armed soldiers prompted him to talk by kneeing him in the back. He says his captors at Panshir repeatedly tied him up, put a bag over his head and knocked him to the ground.

    Defense had asked for more
    The judge did leave the door open for the prosecution to use other statements Hamdan gave elsewhere in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo. Defense lawyers asked Allred to throw out all of his interrogations, arguing he incriminated himself under the effects of alleged abuse — including sleep deprivation and solitary confinement.

    Michael Berrigan, the deputy chief defense counsel, described the ruling as a major blow to the tribunal system that allows hearsay and evidence obtained through coercion.

    "It's a very significant ruling because these prosecutions are built to make full advantage of statements obtained from detainees," he said.

    A jury of six officers with one alternate was selected from a pool of 13 flown in from other U.S. bases over the weekend. Hamdan's lawyers succeeded in barring others, including one who had friends at the Pentagon at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks, and another who had been a key government witness as a student.

    Monday marked the first time after years of pretrial hearings and legal challenges that any prisoner reached this stage of the tribunals.

    The U.S. plans to prosecute about 80 Guantanamo prisoners, including the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks and four alleged coconspirators.

    Hamdan seemed to go along with the process despite earlier threats to boycott. The Yemeni with a fourth-grade education appeared to cooperate fully with his Pentagon-appointed military lawyer, whispering in his ear during the questioning of potential jurors.

    "Mr. Hamdan expressed great interest in this," said Charles Swift, one of his civilian attorneys.

    Morris said the statements obtained from Hamdan are "significant" to the government's case, and his office was evaluating whether to proceed to trial without some of them.

    No statements without witness
    In addition to the other interrogations, the judge said he would throw out statements whenever a government witness is unavailable to vouch for the questioners' tactics. He also withheld a ruling on a key interrogation at Guantanamo in May 2003 until defense lawyers can review roughly 600 pages of confinement records provided by the government on Sunday night.

    Hamdan has been held at Guantanamo since May 2002. A challenge filed by his lawyers resulted in a 2006 Supreme Court ruling striking down the original rules for the military tribunals. Congress and President Bush responded with new rules, the Military Commissions Act.

    Hamdan met bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1996 and began working on his farm before winning a promotion as his driver.

    Defense lawyers say he only kept the job for the $200-a-month salary. But prosecutors allege he was a personal driver and bodyguard of the al-Qaida leader. They say he transported weapons for the Taliban and helped bin Laden escape U.S. retribution following the Sept. 11 attacks.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  3. #93
    simuvac Guest

    Bin Laden driver said to have known 9/11 target

    Bin Laden driver said to have known 9/11 target

    Wed Jul 23, 2008 1:54am BST
    By Jim Loney

    GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - Osama bin Laden's driver knew the target of the fourth hijacked jetliner in the September 11 attacks, a prosecutor said on Tuesday.

    Salim Hamdan's lawyer said in opening statements that the Yemeni, held for nearly seven years before his trial, was just a paid employee of the fugitive al Qaeda leader, a driver in the motor pool who never joined the militant group or plotted attacks on America.

    But prosecutor Timothy Stone, in an attempt to draw a link between Hamdan and the al Qaeda leadership in the first Guantanamo war crimes trial, told the six-member jury of U.S. military officers who will decide Hamdan's guilt or innocence that Hamdan had inside knowledge of the 2001 attacks on the United States because he overheard a conversation between bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

    "If they hadn't shot down the fourth plane it would've hit the dome," Stone, a Navy officer, said in his opening remarks.

    The tribunal's chief prosecutor, Col. Lawrence Morris, later explained that Stone was quoting Hamdan in evidence that will be presented at trial. Morris declined to say if the "dome" was a reference to the U.S. Capitol.

    "Virtually no one knew the intended target, but the accused knew," Stone said.

    United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania. U.S. officials have never stated it was shot down although rumours saying that abound to this day.

    Hamdan, a father of two with a fourth-grade education, is charged with conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism in the first U.S. war crimes trial since World War Two. He could face life in prison if convicted.

    Prosecutors say Hamdan had access to al Qaeda's inner circle. Stone told the jury that Hamdan earned the trust of bin Laden and helped him flee after attacks on U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998 and the September 11 attacks.

    "He served as bodyguard, driver, transported and delivered weapons, ammunition and supplies to al Qaeda," Stone said.

    Hamdan was being tried in a hilltop courthouse at the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, which has been a lightning rod for criticism of the United States since early 2002, when it began housing a prison camp to hold alleged Taliban and al Qaeda fighters from the battlefields of Afghanistan.

    The war crimes tribunal system has been criticized by human rights groups and defence lawyers, some of them U.S. military officers. Detainees have been held for years without charges.

    Washington has declared them unlawful enemy combatants not entitled to the rights afforded formal prisoners of war.

    Responding to the widespread criticism, Morris, the chief prosecutor, said on Tuesday: "In my opinion they are seeing the most just war crimes trial that anyone has ever seen."


    Defence lawyer Harry Schneider described Hamdan as a poor Yemeni who lost his parents at a young age and lived on the streets, where he developed a knack for fixing cars.

    "The evidence is that he worked for wages. He didn't wage attacks on America," he said. "He had a job because he had to earn a living, not because he had a jihad against America."

    "There will be no evidence that Mr. Hamdan espoused or believed or embraced any form of what you will hear about, radical Islam beliefs, extremist Muslim beliefs," he said.

    The first two prosecution witnesses were U.S. military officers who were in Afghanistan during the early days of the U.S. invasion in 2001. Both addressed a key issue at trial -- whether Hamdan had surface-to-air missiles when he was captured at a checkpoint near Takhteh Pol in November 2001.

    Defence lawyers dispute the prosecution's contention that Hamdan had the weapons. But a U.S. officer identified only as "Sergeant Major A" said the missiles were found in the "trunk of a car driven by Mr. Hamdan."

    He said troops also found a mortar manual with "al Qaeda" on the front, a book by bin Laden and a card issued to al Qaeda fighters and signed by Mullah Omar, the Taliban commander.

    Ali Soufan, an al Qaeda expert with the FBI, took the jury through a long description of al Qaeda's hierarchy and called bin Laden "the emir, the prince." He said Hamdan was part of bin Laden's security detail.

    "The people who are around bin Laden have to be trusted ... true believers in the cause," he said.

    (Editing by Eric Beech)

  4. #94
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    Jan 2005
    Guantanamo testimony: U.S. let bin Laden's top bodyguard go

    By Carol Rosenberg | The Miami Herald

    GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — Soon after Osama bin Laden's driver got here in 2002, he told interrogators the identity of the al Qaeda chief's most senior bodyguard — then a fellow prison camp detainee.

    But, inexplicably, the U.S. let the bodyguard go.

    This startling information was revealed in the fourth day of the war crimes trial of Salim Hamdan, 37, facing conspiracy and material support for terror charges as an alleged member of bin Laden's inner circle.

    Michael St. Ours, an agent with the Naval Criminal Intelligence Service, NCIS, provided the first tidbit. He testified for the prosecution that his job as a prison camps interrogator in May 2002 was to find and focus on the bodyguards among the detainees.

    And Hamdan helped identify 30 of them — 10 percent of the roughly 300 detainees then held here. They had just been transferred to Camp Delta from the crude compound called Camp X-Ray, and U.S. intelligence was still trying to unmask them.

    Chief among them was Casablanca-born Abdallah Tabarak, then 47, described by St. Ours as "a hard individual," and, thanks to Hamdan, "the head bodyguard of all the bodyguards."

    St. Ours said he was eager to speak with Tabarak. But the Moroccan was "uncooperative," and St. Ours moved on to other intelligence jobs — and never learned afterward what became of him.

    Then, on cross-examination, Hamdan defense attorney Harry Schneider dropped a bombshell:

    "Would it surprise you to learn he was released without ever being charged?" St. Ours looked stunned.

    "Yeah," he said.

    Prison camp and Pentagon spokesmen did not reply Thursday to a request for an explanation. Tabarak's name was gone from an official prison camp roster drawn up by the Defense Department in September 2004, after some 200 captives had been sent away. A month before, Morocco's state news agency said all five of its nationals had been repatriated from the camps, for investigation.

    For two days, FBI and other federal agents have testified about the extent -- and limits -- of Hamdan's cooperation in a string of interrogations since his November 2001 capture by U.S.-allied Afghan forces at a checkpoint in southern Afghanistan.

    Defense lawyers have sought to portray the father of two with a fourth-grade education as ultimately helpful to the Americans — after he initially covered up his relationship with bin Laden.

    Prosecutors have called him truculent, a loyal and trusted member of bin Laden's inner circle who grudgingly spoke with interrogators — and never came clean on why there were two surface-to-air missiles in his car when he was captured.

    Hamdan said at his Nov. 25, 2001, battlefield interrogation that he borrowed the car, and the missiles happened to be inside it.

    Late November 2001: Satellite Phone Ruse Aids Bin Laden’s Escape
    As US forces close in on Tora Bora, bin Laden’s escape is helped by a simple ruse. A loyal bodyguard named Abdallah Tabarak takes bin Laden’s satellite phone and goes in one direction while bin Laden goes in the other. It is correctly assumed that the US can remotely track the location of the phone. Tabarak is eventually captured with the phone while bin Laden apparently escapes. Tabarak is later put in the US-run Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. Interrogation of him and others in Tora Bora confirm the account. [Washington Post, 1/21/2003] This story indicates bin Laden was still at least occasionally using satellite phones long after media reports that the use of such phones could reveal his location (see February 9-21, 2001). The US will consider Tabarak such a high-value prisoner that at one point he will be the only Guantanamo prisoner that the Red Cross will be denied access to. However, in mid-2004 he will be released and returned to his home country of Morocco, then released by the Moroccan government by the end of the year. Neither the US nor the Moroccan government will offer any explanation for his release. The Washington Post will call the release of the well-known and long-time al-Qaeda operative an unexplained “mystery.” [Washington Post, 1/30/2006]
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  5. #95
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Guantanamo prisoner's cooperation with interrogators hurts him at war crimes trial

    Associated Press Writer

    GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) -- An al-Qaida driver who gave detailed, insider knowledge of the terror network to U.S. agents is seeing his words used against him at the first Guantanamo war crimes trial.

    The first week of Salim Hamdan's trial ended Friday with the latest in a series of FBI interrogators testifying about valuable information from the defendant, a former driver for Osama bin Laden who once mingled with many of America's most wanted terror suspects.

    "I don't know if I ever thanked him," said special agent George Crouch, who interrogated Hamdan in 2002.

    Agents have said that Hamdan identified key terrorist leaders, mapped out bin Laden's escape routes and led them to al-Qaida safehouses after he was captured at a roadblock in southern Afghanistan in November 2001.

    Hamdan's lawyers say he has been interrogated by more than 40 U.S. agents, and argue all his statements were tainted by coercive tactics including sleep deprivation and solitary confinement.

    The target of the first U.S. war crimes trial since World War II, Hamdan faces a maximum life sentence if convicted of conspiracy and supporting terrorism.

    Friday's court session adjourned early because Hamdan, who was treated for a fever at the prison hospital Thursday, still was not feeling well, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brian Mizer, his Pentagon-appointed attorney. The trial is scheduled to resume Monday.

    The defense team lost a bid earlier this week to have Hamdan's statements thrown out because he was not advised of a right against providing incriminating information. But in questioning government witnesses, his lawyers have suggested to the jury of American military officers that he had no way of knowing that he was the target of a criminal investigation.

    "Did anyone ever say, 'You've got to understand, somebody can use this against you?'" said Harry Schneider, one of Hamdan's lawyers, as he cross-examined Crouch. The agent said he did not remember.

    Military prosecutors argue Hamdan cooperated reluctantly, and by the time he shared important information, it was of little tactical value.

    The agents who testified said Hamdan was polite and generally provided reliable information, but was not necessarily forthcoming. Crouch said Hamdan, like many detainees, was often evasive.

    "You want to tell the interrogator what you think they already know, and hold out on what you think they don't know," he said.

    While the Pentagon chose Hamdan as one of the first detainees to face charges, some of his peers who did not cooperate with their captors have been sent home from Guantanamo.

    Michael St. Ours, a Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent, said a man identified by Hamdan as bin Laden's top bodyguard, Abdellah Tabarak, refused to meet with him for interrogations. Tabarak was released to his native Morocco in 2004.

    Hamdan's lawyers have raised doubts about the tactics used to obtain Hamdan's statements, arguing in court that newly discovered classified records show he was kept up for questioning late at night ahead of an interrogation by one of the FBI agents who testified Friday.

    Responding to McMillan, the agent, Daniel William, testified that he was not aware of any effort to disrupt Hamdan's sleep before his interrogation in August 2002.

    "There was no 'good cop, bad cop.' It was not anything we do," William told the court.

    The judge, Navy Capt. Keith Allred, has suppressed some of Hamdan's statements, ruling they were obtained under "coercive" conditions.

    This week, the defense received hundreds of pages of classified records on Hamdan's confinement that his lawyers are reviewing for other potential examples of harsh treatment.

    Michael Berrigan, the deputy chief defense counsel, said the military provided the documents after a court-imposed deadline and the defense is now scrambling to review them.

    The chief prosecutor for the tribunals, Army Col. Lawrence Morris, said he regrets that the documents were released late and his office is working with the government to deliver records more efficiently.

    Crouch said he gained Hamdan's confidence in June 2002 through favors such as arranging for him to speak with his wife for the first time since being taken into U.S. custody.

    "He cried quite a bit," he said. "He was very grateful for the opportunity to speak with his wife."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  6. #96
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    Jan 2005
    Former military prosecutor who refused to bring charges against 9/11 detainee coming to FSU

    July 25, 2008

    A former military prosecutor who refused to pursue charges against a Guantanamo Bay detainee linked to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks is set to give a talk next week at Florida State University.

    U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Stuart Couch declined to bring the charges because he believed the evidence against Mohamedou Ould Slahi was tainted by torture. Slahi is a suspected al-Qaeda operative who allegedly assembled the so-called Hamburg cell, which included the hijacker who piloted United 175 into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, according to a news release from FSU.

    Couch held that incriminating statements made by Slahi were obtained after he was tortured by military personnel.

    The talk is set for noon Thursday at the FSU College of Law Rotunda, 425 W. Jefferson St.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  7. #97
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    9/11 Guantanamo trials unlikely before Bush leaves office

    By Carol Rosenberg and Nancy A. Youssef | McClatchy Newspapers

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. military is scrambling to assemble defense teams for six Guantanamo detainees who are facing the death penalty for their alleged roles in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

    Knowledgeable legal experts, however, said it's unlikely that they can be tried speedily, meaning the cases probably won't be heard before the Bush administration leaves office next January.

    "I will move as quickly as I can, but we will take our time and we will not be bullied by the government," said Army Col. Steve David, the chief defense counsel in the Pentagon's Office of Military Commissions.

    "I believe this is a defining moment in our history, and we are going to take our time to do it right," he said.

    "Any attempt to do these cases in 2008 would be a mockery," said Joseph Margulies, a professor at the Northwestern University School of Law and a noted death penalty expert. He said that it would take at least a year for lawyers to familiarize themselves with the evidence against the six men.

    The Pentagon Monday announced charges against the six that include conspiracy, murder in violation of the law of war, attacking civilians and terrorism. Among those charged was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

    It was the first time that U.S. authorities have charged anyone held at Guantanamo with direct involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Prosecutors face a series of hurdles in bringing the cases, including likely battles over what evidence they'll be allowed to bring before the military commissions that will hear the cases.

    The law that created the commissions forbids the use of evidence gathered by torture. Last week, CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden acknowledged to Congress that Mohammed and two other CIA detainees had been subjected to waterboarding, a technique that simulates the sensation of drowning. Hayden said in his testimony that the technique might not be legal, but the Bush administration has said that waterboarding isn't torture.

    "If the government wants to use those statements or anything derived from those statements, it will have a serious problem," said Eugene Fidell, a Washington, D.C. attorney who specializes in military law.

    David, an Indiana state judge who was mobilized to his current job, said that his office has nowhere near enough staff members to handle the defense of the six 9/11 defendants.

    He said he'd need at least six lawyers, six paralegals and six independent investigators with top security clearances to work on the trials. As of Monday morning, he said, seven military lawyers had been assigned to his office. Six of those are already assigned to other cases.

    The seventh — an Army major — began work Monday, and David said he didn't know if the new man had either death penalty defense experience or the necessary security clearances.

    In the charging documents released Monday, the military spelled out how the six allegedly plotted the attacks, trained to fly planes, moved funds and practiced how to hide knives in their luggage.

    The documents charge that Mohammed orchestrated the attacks and regularly updated al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden on the plot's progress. Mohammed was captured in Pakistan in 2003.

    Outlining the plot took up 22 of the charging document's 88 pages. The remainder listed the names of the 2,973 people who died in the attacks.

    The other five charged were:
    • Mohammed al Qahtani, whom the military said could have been the 20th hijacker had he not been turned down for a visa;
    • Ramzi Binalshibh, who's considered a top al Qaida detainee in Guantanamo. The military called Binalshibh a main intermediary between the hijackers and bin Laden. He also was named Mohammed's main assistant for "Planes Operations";
    • Ali Abd al Aziz Ali, a nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed;
    • Mustafa Ahmad al Hawsawi, who helped move money among the hijackers;
    • Waleed bin Attash, who's charged with training some of the hijackers. For example, the military alleges that he prepared reports for al Qaida on to get knives onto flights.

    The charges still must be approved by a civilian Pentagon official.

    Only one of the six — Qahtani — has seen a lawyer during his five-plus years in U.S. custody, and it wasn't clear whether that lawyer, Gitanjali Gutierrez of the New York Center for Constitutional Rights, would represent him at the war crimes trial.

    Other lawyers said it was unlikely that private civilian lawyers would be willing to help defend accused 9/11 conspirators.

    "You need someone who is independently wealthy and has no concern for his physical safety," said Washington, D.C. attorney David Remes of Covington and Burling, who's filed petitions on behalf of Yemenis held at Guantanamo.

    "No firm with substantial resources that works for corporations is going to take the cases of these men, because being accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks is different in kind from being accused of being a mere foot soldier," Remes said. "If the accusations against these men are correct, they really are the worst of the worst."

    The Military Commissions Act of 2006 prohibits federal funds from being used in the alleged terrorists' defense, which would bar the use of federal public defenders, and resources to mount a defense would be scarce even for attorneys willing to undertake the cases.

    "If private counsel wants to get involved, they have to do it for free, pass around a hat, or be paid for by a private organization," said Margulies, who's handling an unrelated wrongful detention case for another Guantanamo detainee, Abu Zubaydah, who was one of the three prisoners that Hayden said was waterboarded.

    Defense lawyers, Margulies said, will need at least a year to familiarize themselves with the cases against their clients, find translators with the proper security clearances to speak help them speak with their clients and hire investigators to review highly classified information.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  8. #98
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    Jan 2005
    Guantanamo trial views graphic 9/11 video

    Published: Monday July 28, 2008

    GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - Prosecutors in the trial of Osama bin Laden's driver unveiled a graphic video on Monday of the September 11 attacks and other al Qaeda operations that is likely to play a repeated role in pending war crimes cases.

    The video is entitled "The Al Qaeda Plan," an echo of "The Nazi Plan" made by Oscar-winning director George Stevens as evidence in the Nuremberg war crimes trials of German leaders after World War II.

    "Oh my God" was heard repeatedly as crowds watched the twin towers of the World Trade center collapse on September 11, 2001, in a vivid highlight of the movie shown over defense objections at the terrorism conspiracy trial of Salim Hamdan.

    The six-member panel that will decide Hamdan's fate also saw footage of charred bodies stripped of flesh in the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa and the body of a U.S. soldier dragged through the streets in Somalia in 2003.

    Control tower conversations with one of the doomed September 11 planes were also included.

    "The Al Qaeda Plan" was made for $25,000 by terrorism consultant Evan Kohlmann for the Office of Military Commissions, which is conducting the trials of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo. Its 90 minutes of video clips depict the history of al Qaeda from its formation in 1988 through the September 11 attacks.

    The commission's lead prosecutor, Col. Lawrence Morris, said the tape would be used in other trials but no decision had been made whether to use it in the trial of accused September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

    Hamdan's attorneys objected that the footage would prejudice the jury. "They're trying to terrorize the members," defense attorney Charles Swift told the court.

    But prosecutors said the video helped illustrate the goals of al Qaeda training and ideology. "It is a very important part of the prosecution's case," said prosecutor Clayton Trivett.

    Commission Judge Keith Allred approved the video, after first saying it would serve more to prejudice the case than to prove a point. "The planes crashing into the towers and the people screaming doesn't prove anything," he said.

    A pivotal point of contention is the significance of Hamdan's role in al Qaeda. The Yemeni native was caught in November 2001 with two surface-to-air missiles in his car.

    Defense attorneys say he was a lowly driver, but the prosecution has sought to portray him as a trusted bodyguard who helped bin Laden evade capture and stay alive.

    The two sides have also skirmished over an expert's testimony on the laws of war. With Hamdan being tried as a war criminal under a 2006 U.S. law, the prosecution is seeking to show the United States was in a continuing armed conflict with al Qaeda well before the September 11 attacks.

    Hamdan's attorneys have sought to demonstrate that the battle with al Qaeda did not reach the state of armed conflict until the September 11 attacks, which could make it harder for the prosecution to prove Hamdan's actions count as a war crime.

    Separately on Monday, the Pentagon announced it had filed charges against another detainee at Guantanamo and released three from the detention center.

    The Pentagon said Abdul Ghani was accused of attempted murder, material support for terrorism and conspiracy over accusations he fired rockets and planted bombs aimed at U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002, and tried to kill an Afghani soldier in 2002.

    The Pentagon said it had released three detainees -- one to Afghanistan, one to the United Arab Emirates and one to Qatar. It said more than 65 Guantanamo detainees are eligible for transfer or release subject to talks on where they will go.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  9. #99
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Nothing like some good old fashioned professionally made propaganda in the court room I always say...
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  10. #100
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    9/11 Architect Is Unlikely to Aid Defense Of Ex-Driver

    By Jerry Markon
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Thursday, July 31, 2008; Page A13

    GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, July 30 -- The self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has refused to meet with attorneys for Osama bin Laden's former driver and probably will not testify at the driver's military trial, the lawyers said Wednesday.

    Attorneys for the former driver, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, had sought the testimony of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and seven other detainees at the U.S. military prison here, in the belief they could exonerate Hamdan of terrorism conspiracy charges. Mohammed, the alleged Sept. 11 mastermind, has provided written answers to questions from Hamdan's attorneys.

    But Mohammed sent word to the defense that "he's not inclined to come to court," Harry Schneider, a lawyer for Hamdan, said at a hearing. "I see no value in trying to bring him forcibly to testify," Schneider said. He added that it is likely that Mohammed's written answers will be submitted to the jury instead.

    The development is a potential blow to Hamdan's chances of acquittal in the first U.S. military commission since World War II. Mohammed was expected to tell the jury that Hamdan was a minor figure, and the military judge has said his testimony is potentially exculpatory.

    Whether Hamdan was an al-Qaeda insider who ferried weapons, as the charges say, or a mere chauffeur, as his defense team contends, was the focus of the trial Wednesday.

    Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent Robert McFadden testified that Hamdan told him in a 2003 interrogation that Hamdan had pledged bayat, or sworn allegiance, to bin Laden. McFadden quoted Hamdan as saying that he had an "uncontrollable enthusiasm" for bin Laden's mission of "expelling the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula."

    The testimony is potentially significant because a pledge of bayat would signal a closer relationship between Hamdan and the al-Qaeda leader than other government witnesses have established.

    But McFadden's statement was made outside the presence of the jury because defense attorneys are seeking to have it thrown out, contending that the 2003 interrogation of Hamdan was coercive. The judge, Navy Capt. Keith J. Allred, said in a preliminary ruling that Hamdan's admissions would not be allowed into evidence unless prosecutors could prove they were not made under coercive conditions.

    The judge convened a hearing on that issue Wednesday, and McFadden testified that the conversation he and another agent had with Hamdan was "friendly, cordial." Hamdan said it was "regular" conversation," during which he did not complain of mistreatment. But he denied pledging bayat to bin Laden.

    Allred said he would rule by Thursday morning.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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