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

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Attorney: 9/11 death penalty trial could create 'nightmare scenario'

    ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- The trials planned for six suspects in the 9/11 attacks -- in which the government proposes to seek the death penalty -- could be unfair and could leave Khalid Shaikh Mohammed looking like a martyr to his supporters, a former U.S. Navy attorney said Monday.

    An attorney who represented bin Laden's driver worries Khalid Shaikh Mohammed may look like martyr at trial.

    "The losers will be the American public unless some fundamental changes are made very quickly," said Charles Swift, who represented Osama bin Laden's driver in a case that ultimately led the Supreme Court to reject the Bush administration's military tribunals for detainees in 2006.

    A military commission to try the six detainees will take place at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Pentagon said Monday. A judge must first approve the charges against the suspects and the request the death penalty be considered, the military said Monday.

    In an interview with CNN, Swift said the Office of Military Commissions has no attorneys who are "death-penalty-qualified currently assigned."

    When he worked at the office, there were two lawyers assigned to a single death penalty defendant; now, he said, one lawyer has as many as three or four clients.

    "There is no one to represent these detainees -- these high-value detainees," he said.

    Cmdr. J.D. Gordon, a Defense Department spokesman for detainee issues, said the defendants will be "well represented" when their cases come before the judge.

    "We're not looking at today," Gordon said. "We're looking at when charges are referred, which will be a couple of months from now."

    "Once charges are referred by the convening authority, detailed defense counsel will be assigned," he said.

    Gordon said he didn't know how many attorneys would be assigned to the six defendants, but all of those assigned "will be fully qualified."

    About 500 lawyers currently represent the 275 detainees at Guantanamo Bay, he said.

    "There will be many lawyers, and they will be well qualified," he said.

    The military said Monday the detainees will have fair and adequate representation. In fact, "we are going to give them rights that are virtually identical to our military members," Air Force Brig Gen. Thomas Hartmann said at a Pentagon news conference.

    But Swift said the procedures, as planned, could bring about a "nightmare scenario" in which alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed -- the most prominent of the six detainees -- would be able to claim he had no fair trial in the United States, which could leave him looking like a martyr to his supporters.

    Swift urged the military to change the plan, insisting the U.S. justice system can deliver a just verdict against an accused terrorist mastermind.

    "Of course it can," he said.

    There are also questions about whether testimony gathered through waterboarding would be considered as testimony, Swift said. The last legal precedent he could find for such a move, he said, was the Spanish Inquisition -- more than 500 years ago.

    Hartmann said Monday a military judge will determine whether information obtained during interrogations is admissible.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Profile: Key 9/11 suspects
    Six prisoners being held by the US in Guantanamo Bay are to face charges over their alleged involvement in the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US.

    The following profiles and what is known of the allegations against the suspects are compiled from BBC and news agency reports and information released by the Pentagon and US intelligence officials.

    Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - described by US intelligence as "one of history's most infamous terrorists" - has admitted being responsible "from A to Z" for the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States, according to the Pentagon.

    He also confessed to a role in 30 plots other than 9/11 including planned attacks on Big Ben and Heathrow airport in London and the beheading of US reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in 2002, according to a transcript of his hearing at Guantanamo Bay.

    He was believed to be the number three al-Qaeda leader before his capture in a safe house in Pakistan in March 2003. He was held in US custody at an undisclosed location from then until his transfer to Guantanamo Bay in 2006.

    Born in Kuwait of Pakistani extraction, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed claims to have joined the Muslim Brotherhood at the age of 16.

    After graduating from college in the US, he went to Afghanistan to participate in the anti-Soviet jihad. It was there that he is believed first to have met Osama Bin Laden.

    He went to the Philippines and was implicated in the plot to blow up US airliners over the Pacific in 1995, known as Operation Bojinka.

    Conspiracy. Murder in violation of the law of war, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, destruction of property in violation of the law of war, terrorism and providing material support for terrorism
    Hijacking or hazarding a vessel

    He features prominently in the US 9/11 Commission Report on how the 11 September 2001 attacks were carried out. His testimony was also used by defence lawyers for Zacarias Moussaoui, jailed for life in 2006 for his role in the plot.

    Khalid Sheikh Mohammed helped build close operational ties between al-Qaeda and the shadowy militant group Jemaah Islamiah (JI) in south-east Asia, according to US intelligence.

    By late 2001 he had become external operations chief for al-Qaeda and was involved in plots targeting Britain and the US, the Pentagon says.

    Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has alleged that he also helped lay the groundwork for the 7 July 2005 bombings in London.

    In his combatant status review at Guantanamo Bay, the US cited evidence describing Ramzi Binalshibh as the co-ordinator of the 9/11 attacks.

    He is said to have become a key member of the al-Qaeda cell in Hamburg, Germany, after seeking asylum there in the late 1990s and becoming a student.

    According to US officials, he met Mohammed Atta, the leader of the Hamburg cell, and two other hijackers, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah, in 1997. Two years later, the four travelled to Afghanistan where they met Bin Laden.

    Mr Binalshibh was intended to be one of the hijackers but was unable to get a US visa, intelligence officials say.

    Conspiracy. Murder in violation of the law of war, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, destruction of property in violation of the law of war, terrorism and providing material support for terrorism
    Hijacking or hazarding a vessel

    Instead, he reportedly assisted the 11 September attacks by relaying orders from al-Qaeda's leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan to operatives in the US and Germany, as well as organising travel and money transfers.

    US intelligence says he left Germany a week before the attacks and made his way to Afghanistan and then to Pakistan, where he worked with Sheikh Mohammed on plots against Western targets, including plans to crash aircraft into Heathrow airport in the UK.

    He was interviewed by an al-Jazeera reporter in 2002, during which he showed souvenirs of the 9/11 planning, including a flight instruction book signed by lead hijacker Mohammed Atta.

    He was captured in Pakistan in September 2002.

    The US described him at his combatant status review as "uncooperative and unresponsive", vowing to have nothing to do with the process.

    A Saudi said by US intelligence officials to be one of two key financial people used by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to arrange the funding for the 11 September hijackings.

    Conspiracy. Murder in violation of the law of war, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, destruction of property in violation of the law of war, terrorism and providing material support for terrorism

    He is suspected of meeting many senior al-Qaeda figures, including Bin Laden, soon after the attacks. Financial links have been found between Mr Hawsawi, other terror suspects and some of the hijackers, US intelligence says, and he helped arrange travel for some of them.

    Testimony from Mr Hawsawi was used in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, saying he had seen him in an al-Qaeda guesthouse in early 2001 but was never involved with him.

    He was captured in Pakistan in 2003.

    Also known as Ammar al-Baluchi, he is accused of serving as a key lieutenant to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - his uncle - during the 11 September operation.

    Conspiracy. Murder in violation of the law of war, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, destruction of property in violation of the law of war, terrorism and providing material support for terrorism
    Hijacking or hazarding a vessel

    Born in Balochistan and raised in Kuwait, his chief mentor was his cousin, Ramzi Yousef, jailed in the US for masterminding the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

    US intelligence officials say he delivered funds to the 11 September hijackers and later helped Sheikh Mohammed communicate with "shoe bomber" Richard Reid and other plotters, including Majid Khan.

    Following his uncle's arrest, he is said to have assumed responsibility for planning hijacking attacks from Heathrow airport and bombings against Western targets in Karachi in 2003.

    He was within days of completing preparations for the Karachi plot when captured, the US says.

    Yemeni national Walid Bin Attash has admitted masterminding the bombing of the American destroyer, USS Cole, in Yemen in 2000, which killed 17 sailors, according to the Pentagon.

    Conspiracy. Murder in violation of the law of war, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, destruction of property in violation of the law of war, terrorism and providing material support for terrorism
    Hijacking or hazarding a vessel

    Mr Bin Attash also said he helped plan the 1998 bomb attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 213 people, according to a transcript of his hearing at Guantanamo Bay.

    Mr Bin Attash, also known as Tawfiq Bin Attash and Khallad, was a key al-Qaeda operative from 1998 until his capture in 2003, according to the US.

    He is also accused of involvement in the 11 September 2001 attacks and met two of the hijackers, Nawaf al-Hamzi and Khalid al-Midhar, to help them check out US flights in Asia.

    He was allegedly picked as one of the hijackers himself but was prevented from taking part when he was briefly arrested in Yemen earlier that year. He is said to have served as Bin Laden's bodyguard.

    US intelligence officials say he was planning an attack on the US consulate in Karachi with fellow suspect Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali when he was captured in a raid in the city. They believe he was also involved in a plot against Heathrow airport.

    Mohammad al-Qahtani tried to enter the US in August 2001, allegedly to become the 20th hijacker for the 11 September attacks in New York and Washington.

    Conspiracy. Murder in violation of the law of war, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, destruction of property in violation of the law of war, terrorism and providing material support for terrorism

    He was refused entry at Orlando in Florida and returned to Dubai, and was later detained in Afghanistan and transferred to Guantanamo Bay.

    In 2006, he recanted accusations he had made against fellow detainees of having al-Qaeda links. His lawyer told Time magazine the statements had been extracted under brutal torture.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    9/11 Trial: Don't Expect Another Nuremberg
    CBS' Andrew Cohen Says Military Trials Likely Won't Shed New Light On 9/11 Attacks

    Feb. 12, 2008

    The Pentagon announced Monday - 2,345 days after September 11, 2001 -that it would finally seek to bring to military trial six men accused of aiding the terror attacks that day. Considering that one of the six men is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, long acknowledged as the 9/11 operational chief, the announcement surely is big news and perhaps even a watershed in the long and frustrating struggle to fit the new rules of warfare into the old paradigms of military justice.

    It’s a big deal, however, only if we have just witnessed a shift in Pentagon priorities when it comes to the rules by which the men will be tried. Military officials said all the right things Monday - that there would be very little classified evidence introduced against the men and that they would be afforded most of the same rights as accused U.S. soldiers - but it is unclear as I write this whether in fact the procedures ballyhooed now are materially different from the procedures that have been challenged before and that remain legally dubious even today.

    If the Pentagon finally is serious about prosecuting the men more fairly - if the ticking clock on the Bush Administration’s days in office has generated the sort of reasonable breakthrough that dozens of judges and hundreds of lawyers could not - 2008 really could be the year we finally see progress in the form of legal process. If we’ve just heard more empty rhetoric from the government and the rules really haven’t changed then we are doomed to endure another year or two of legal limbo before we see our first military trial.

    It won’t be a grand spectacle like the world saw in Nuremberg. The war that preceded that trial was finished. Our current war on terror rumbles on, perhaps endlessly, requiring military officials to be mindful of security and operational details that would emerge during the presentation of evidence. The government will now allow the world’s tribunes to converge upon Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to chronicle the proceedings.

    Moreover, it’s hard to fathom how either our government or the rest of us will learn something about the 9/11 plot that we can believe, and don’t already know.

    The odds of Mohammed suddenly snapping his fingers during the trial and then sharing with us some relevant detail is about as likely as the trial is to be televised with Nancy Grace as the courtroom announcer. This is about steak, not sizzle; about putting these guys away, in this world or the next, once and for all.

    Let’s get real and stop talking about legal theory. The Mohammed Six are dead men walking and have been so ever since they were captured. They will be judged by military officers. The trials, if they ever take place, are likely to be far less controversial than advertised. And the episode will end up the way all capital cases end up in this country: with a final pronouncement of some sort by the United States Supreme Court.

    Given the amount of poor reporting and faulty analysis on these topics Monday you would have thought that Hammurabi himself came back from the dead to deliver the news in Akkadian.

    All everyone wanted to talk about Monday was “waterboarding” and how torture allegations would play into the trial. Apparently, “terror trials” and “waterboarding” go hand-in-hand now like “O.J. Simpson” and “preliminary hearing” - you hear the first and you start asking about the second. But it ain’t necessarily so. I don’t think this trial is going to be the Torture Referenda that detainee attorneys want it to be. For example, prosecutors could go a long way toward avoiding the topic altogether if they simply present their case against the men without relying upon anything the men said following their capture.

    Let’s play that out with Mohammed. Obviously, the government knew about his role in the 9/11 plot before he was rousted out of his bed, photographed and sent off to be “interrogated” lord knows where. The evidence and information that led federal authorities to tag him with the 9/11 Leader label and then hunt him down in a safe house in Pakistan can be used against him without triggering a defense motion that it came from torturing the man. You can’t use torture as a defense to a confession if the government doesn’t use the confession.

    The Mohammed Six are dead men walking and have been so ever since they were captured. They will be judged by military officers. The trials, if they ever take place, are likely to be far less controversial than advertised.
    But that’s not going to stop the folks from the Center for Constitutional Rights - an organization that has done amazingly important work on behalf of the detainees since 9/11 - from arguing that the government’s allegations against their client, Mohammed al-Qahtani, are “inherently tainted by the stench of torture.” I just don’t see a jury of Donald Rumsfeld’s peers buying that argument. And I don’t buy the Supreme Court Justices doing so, either.

    The defense will have a closer call if the government tries to use information gleaned from the men during newly-revealed “soft” interrogation tactics. And if someone hasn’t copyrighted it yet I’ll be the first to lay claim: the phrase “The Starbucks Defense” is going to be applied in this case if the government tries to sell the idea that its new anti-waterboarding tactics - would you like a latte, Mohammed? - don’t constitute coercion. The more prosecutors can stay away from using anything the men have said the better and strongly the government’s case will be.

    Now let’s look at the capital punishment component to Monday’s news. Who in the world is surprised that our government would choose to push ahead for the death penalty in these cases? If not now, when? Yes, I understand that many countries of the world do not agree with America’s willingness to continue to employ the death penalty. But if and when Mohammed is convicted of this crime, which leader of which country is going to stand up in this case and say that he deserves mercy?

    Sometimes, the enormity of the crime overwhelms the life history of its alleged perpetrators. It happened with Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing trial. And it’s going to happen again if - not when - Mohammed and Company finally get their day in court.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  4. #14
    simuvac Guest

    February 12, 2008
    News Analysis
    Focus of Detainee Trial Is Likely to Suit Bush

    WASHINGTON — Harsh interrogations and Guantánamo Bay, secret prisons and warrantless eavesdropping, the war against Al Qaeda and the one in Iraq. On issue after issue, President Bush has showed little indication that he will shrink from the most controversial decisions of his tenure.

    With the decision to charge six Guantánamo detainees with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and to seek the death penalty for the crimes, many of those issues will now be back in the spotlight. In an election year, that appears to be exactly where Mr. Bush wants the focus to be.

    The White House said on Monday that Mr. Bush had no role in the decision to file charges now against the six detainees, leaving the strategy for prosecuting them to the military.

    Still, the cases soon to be put before military tribunals — including that against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who has described himself as the mastermind of the attacks — represent a major part of “the unfinished business” that Mr. Bush and his aides talk about when they vow “to sprint to the finish,” as one aide did again on Monday.

    Mr. Bush never sounds surer of himself than when the subject is Sept. 11, even when his critics argue that he has squandered the country’s moral authority, violated American and international law, and led the United States into the foolhardy distraction of Iraq.

    “Six and a half years ago, our country faced the worst attack in our history,” Mr. Bush said late last week, speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference. “I understood immediately that we would have to act boldly to protect the American people. So we’ve gone on the offense against these extremists. We’re staying on the offense, and we will not relent until we bring them to justice.”

    The 9/11 candidate, Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, may have dropped his bid for the White House. But the 9/11 presidency is far from over.

    On the question of warrantless wiretapping, widely expanded after the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Bush is pushing to make permanent legislation that last year made a once-secret program legal, despite a storm of protest that has reverberated since 2005, when the program was disclosed.

    Only a year ago, Iraq appeared to have deflated the president’s popularity and eroded his standing even among Republicans and the Pentagon’s generals. But Mr. Bush now appears to have laid a foundation to keep more than 130,000 American troops on the ground in a mission he has justified as part of a broader fight against terrorism, despite an overwhelming groundswell against an unpopular conflict. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates on Monday essentially endorsed a “pause” in further troop withdrawals once those troops sent in last year as part of a temporary buildup go home.

    In each of these cases — the military tribunals, the wiretapping legislation, Iraq — the White House seems eager to lock in as many of the president’s policies as possible before he leaves office in 11 months. And as it looks ahead to the November elections, the White House seems to have concluded that each is politically sustainable and even favorable for a Republican candidate and Mr. Bush’s own legacy.

    Whether the White House will succeed — and November will certainly be the measure — remains to be seen.

    Democrats have battled before, with mixed success, against Republican efforts to portray them as weak on defense. This time, the Democrats sound determined to fight back more forcefully.

    “I wish they had as coherent a strategy for fighting the war on terror as they do for politicizing the war on terror,” Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said on Monday.

    The legality of military tribunals has been in dispute since the days immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks. It is possible that the trials could backfire by underscoring the administration’s failures as well as any successes in bringing some of America’s most-wanted to justice.

    “The American public doesn’t need to put them on trial at this point to prove we got the bad guys,” said Jennifer Daskal, a lawyer at Human Rights Watch in Washington. “I think the focus is going to be on the unfairness of the trials and the use of highly abusive interrogations.”

    Just last week, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, became the first government official to acknowledge publicly that those interrogations, in three cases, included the technique known as waterboarding, which simulates drowning and is regarded by many as torture.

    Mr. Bush’s administration, however, appears to have calculated that many Americans, if not most, do not necessarily object to harsh interrogations or eavesdropping if they were used to prevent further attacks.

    At a fund-raiser on Friday in Pennsylvania, hardly the most conservative state, Vice President Dick Cheney vigorously defended the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques, referring to them as “a tougher program for a very few tougher customers.”

    “He and others were questioned at a time when another attack on this country was believed to be imminent,” Mr. Cheney said of Mr. Mohammed and other Qaeda members. “It’s a good thing we had them in custody, and it is a good thing that we found out what they knew.”

    Of the six men charged on Monday, Mr. Mohammed and four others were held for as long as three years in the secret C.I.A. prisons that were part of what the agency calls its “high-value terrorist interrogation program.” The prisons were established in 2002, but the administration did not publicly reveal their existence until 2006, when Mr. Mohammed and other detainees were moved from the C.I.A. facilities to the military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

    In a statement to C.I.A. employees on Monday, General Hayden called the filing of charges “a crucial milestone on the road to justice for the victims of 9/11.”

    Carl Hulse contributed reporting.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    CNN: 9/11 Families Want A Fair Trial For 9/11 Suspects

    [url="http://%3Cfont%20face=%22Arial%22%3E%3Cfont%20size=%222%2 2%3E%3Cfont%20color=%22navy%22%3E%3Cfont%20color=% 22navy%22%3E%3Cfont%20face=%22Arial%22%3E%3C/font%3E%3C/font%3E%3C/font%3E%3C/font%3E%3C/font%3E%3Cfont%20face=%22Arial%22%3E%3Cfont%20size =%222%22%3E%3Cfont%20color=%22navy%22%3E%3Ca%20hre f="]]Click Here

    Congratulations to Lorie and Mr. DeCell for getting on CNN.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  6. #16
    simuvac Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Gold9472
    CNN: 9/11 Families Want A Fair Trial For 9/11 Suspects

    Click Here

    Congratulations to Lorie and Mr. DeCell for getting on CNN.

  7. #17
    simuvac Guest

    Return of the 9/11 President
    By Dan Froomkin
    Special to
    Tuesday, February 12, 2008; 12:52 PM

    President Bush continues to dispute all the predictions that his presidency will go down in history as a miserable failure.

    Or, as he put it in an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News over the weekend: "It's very hard to write the future history of America before the current history hasn't been fully written."

    But with the economy tanking, the war in Iraq dragging on, our nation's moral standing in ashes and voters hungering for a new direction, how exactly does Bush intend to go out a winner?

    One possible answer: Try to change the subject back to 9/11.

    Steven Lee Myers writes in the New York Times that the administration's announcement yesterday of capital murder charges against half a dozen men allegedly linked to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks will bring the election-year focus back on Bush's favorite issues.

    "The White House said on Monday that Mr. Bush had no role in the decision to file charges now against the six detainees, leaving the strategy for prosecuting them to the military," Myers writes.

    "Still, the cases soon to be put before military tribunals -- including that against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who has described himself as the mastermind of the attacks -- represent a major part of 'the unfinished business' that Mr. Bush and his aides talk about when they vow 'to sprint to the finish,' as one aide did again on Monday.

    "Mr. Bush never sounds surer of himself than when the subject is Sept. 11, even when his critics argue that he has squandered the country's moral authority, violated American and international law, and led the United States into the foolhardy distraction of Iraq. . . .

    "The 9/11 candidate, Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, may have dropped his bid for the White House. But the 9/11 presidency is far from over."

    Myers writes that on the question of military tribunals, warrantless wiretapping and the war in Iraq, "the White House seems eager to lock in as many of the president's policies as possible before he leaves office in 11 months. And as it looks ahead to the November elections, the White House seems to have concluded that each is politically sustainable and even favorable for a Republican candidate and Mr. Bush's own legacy."

    Of course, this latest move could backfire.

    Andrew O. Selsky writes for the Associated Press that "questions of due process could overshadow the [Guantanamo] proceedings, according to Jennifer Daskal, senior counterterrorism counsel for Human Rights Watch.

    "'By trying these men before flawed military commissions in Guantanamo Bay, the United States makes the system the center of attention rather the defendants and their alleged crimes.'"

    And then there's the controversy about using evidence elicited through torture.

    Josh White, Dan Eggen and Joby Warrick write in The Washington Post that the charges are "based partly on information the men disclosed to FBI and military questioners without the use of coercive interrogation tactics.

    "The admissions made by the men -- who were given food whenever they were hungry as well as Starbucks coffee at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- played a key role in the government's decision to proceed with the prosecutions, military and law enforcement officials said.

    "FBI and military interrogators who began work with the suspects in late 2006 called themselves the 'Clean Team' and set as their goal the collection of virtually the same information the CIA had obtained from five of the six through duress at secret prisons."

    Nevertheless, "Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents one of the detainees charged and many more at Guantanamo Bay, said the cases are 'essentially show trials, as President Bush is leaving his tarnished legacy to the next president.'"

    The White House made it clear that it wanted a 9/11 trial before the end of President Bush's term. But Carol Rosenberg and Nancy A. Youssef write for McClatchy Newspapers: "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."

    And yet, that actually may be part of the plan, writes Will Bunch in his Philadelphia Daily News blog: "[I]t is unlikely, with appeals and the like, that any conviction and death penalty could be carried out as quickly as January. That lays the problem on the lap of the next president -- regardless of whether it's McCain, Clinton or Obama -- who would have to either affirm the military tribunals, or else declare on the first day of their presidency that one of their first officials acts will be to overturn a death sentence for a 9/11 mastermind.

    "That's a classic Rovian political trap if I ever saw one. And it's more proof that undoing the nightmare eight years of Bush and Cheney is going to be a lot more work than simply placing a right hand on the Bible."

    Torture, Continued
    Bush spoke at some length about torture in his Fox News interview. All in all, it sounded like he was walking back spokesman Tony Fratto's assertion last week that the president might approve more waterboarding. Bush sided in the interview with CIA director Michael Hayden's view that waterboarding was legal when it was conducted in 2002 and 2003, but may no longer be legal.

    Said Bush: "First of all, whatever we have done was legal, and whatever decision I will make will be reviewed by the Justice Department to determine whether or not the legality is there. And the reason why there is a difference between what happened in the past and today, there is a new law."

    Then, however, Bush made an unsupported claim, and issued a challenge that the media and his critics should pick up with vigor: "The American people have got to know that what we did in the past gained information that prevented an attack. And for those who criticize what we did in the past, I ask them, which attack would they rather have not permitted -- stopped? Which attack on America did they -- would they have said, well, you know, maybe it wasn't all that important that we stop those attacks."

    But if the American people have "got to know" that torture gained information that prevented an attack, Bush needs to start making a better case. As I've written repeatedly, he has yet to offer any evidence that intelligence produced by torture thwarted a single plot or saved a single life.

    The media should demand that he back it up or take it back.

    And Yet
    And yet, Fox News's Chris Wallace responded not with a challenge but with what may go down as one of the most inappropriate and insufficient follow-ups in presidential history.

    Said Wallace: "I want to follow up on that. Whether it is interrogation of terror prisoners or the intercepting of surveillance among al Qaeda members, are you ever puzzled by all of the concern in this country about protecting of rights of people who want to kill us?"

    Even Bush had to come to the defense of his critics.

    Said Bush: "That is an interesting way to put it. I wouldn't necessarily define some of the critics of my policy that way. I would say that they want to be very careful that we don't overstep our bounds from protecting the civil liberties of Americans."

    Blogger John Amato shows video of Bush's bizarre expression while listening to Wallace's questions about waterboarding: He can't stop smiling.

    Meanwhile, Richard E. Mezo writes in a Washington Post op-ed: "As someone who has experienced waterboarding, albeit in a controlled setting, I know that the act is indeed torture. I was waterboarded during my training to become a Navy flight crew member. As has been noted in The Post and other media outlets, waterboarding is 'real drowning that simulates death.' It's an experience our country should not subject people to. . . .

    "Back then, we didn't call it waterboarding -- we called it 'water torture.' We recognized it as something the United States would never do, whatever the provocation. As a nation, we must ask our leaders, elected and appointed, to be aware of such horrors; we must ask them to stop the narrow and superficial thinking that hinges upon 'legal' definitions and to use common sense. Waterboarding is torture, and torture is clearly a crime against humanity."

    FISA Watch
    Glenn Greenwald blogs for Salon: "The Senate today -- led by Jay Rockefeller, enabled by Harry Reid, and with the active support of at least 12 (and probably more) Democrats, in conjunction with an as-always lockstep GOP caucus -- will vote to legalize warrantless spying on the telephone calls and emails of Americans, and will also provide full retroactive amnesty to lawbreaking telecoms, thus forever putting an end to any efforts to investigate and obtain a judicial ruling regarding the Bush administration's years-long illegal spying programs aimed at Americans. . . .

    "What were the consequences for the President for having broken the law so deliberately and transparently? Absolutely nothing. To the contrary, the Senate is about to enact a bill which has two simple purposes: (1) to render retroactively legal the President's illegal spying program by legalizing its crux: warrantless eavesdropping on Americans, and (2) to stifle forever the sole remaining avenue for finding out what the Government did and obtaining a judicial ruling as to its legality: namely, the lawsuits brought against the co-conspiring telecoms. . . .

    "[I]t isn't merely that the Democratic Senate failed to investigate or bring about accountability for the clearest and more brazen acts of lawbreaking in the Bush administration, although that is true. Far beyond that, once in power, they are eagerly and aggressively taking affirmative steps -- extraordinary steps -- to protect Bush officials. While still knowing virtually nothing about what they did, they are acting to legalize Bush's illegal spying programs and put an end to all pending investigations and efforts to uncover what happened.

    "How far we've come -- really: disgracefully tumbled -- from the days of the Church Committee, which aggressively uncovered surveillance abuses and then drafted legislation to outlaw them and prevent them from ever occurring again. It is, of course, precisely those post-Watergate laws which the Bush administration and their telecom conspirators purposely violated, and for which they are about to receive permanent, lawless protection."

    Here's a White House " Fact Sheet" on telecom immunity: "Companies should not be held responsible for verifying the government's determination that requested assistance was necessary and lawful -- and such an impossible requirement would hurt our ability to keep the Nation safe."

    But isn't that the very definition of a police state: that companies should do whatever the government asks, even if they know it's illegal?

    Indeed, Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold took to the Senate floor with a little history lesson yesterday: "With the willing cooperation of the telephone companies, the FBI conducted surveillance of peaceful anti-war protesters, journalists, steel company executives . . . and even Martin Luther King Jr., an American hero whose life we recently celebrated.

    "Congress decided to take action. Based on the history of, and potential for, government abuses, Congress decided that it was not appropriate for telephone companies to simply assume that any government request for assistance to conduct electronic surveillance was legal. Let me repeat that: a primary purpose of FISA was to make clear, once and for all, that the telephone companies should not blindly cooperate with government requests for assistance.

    "At the same time, however, Congress did not want to saddle telephone companies with the responsibility of determining whether the government's request for assistance was a lawful one. That approach would leave the companies in a permanent state of legal uncertainty about their obligations.

    "So Congress devised a system that would take the guesswork out of it completely. Under that system, which is still in place today, the companies' legal obligations and liability depend entirely on whether the government has presented the company with a court order or a certification stating that certain basic requirements have been met. If the proper documentation is submitted, the company must cooperate with the request and will be immune from liability. If the proper documentation has not been submitted, the company must refuse the government's request, or be subject to possible liability in the courts."

    Bush weighed in on FISA in his Fox News interview: "I think we're going to get a good bipartisan bill and so I applaud those Democrats. I'm not going after those Democrats. But there is a big part of the Democrat (sic) Party that is against giving our intelligence officers the tools necessary to protect America."

    E-Mail Watch
    The Washington Post editorial board writes: "With each passing week, the fate of e-mails generated by President Bush's staff grows more curious and troubling. While evidence has not emerged of a deliberate effort by the White House to destroy sensitive electronic messages, there's reason to be concerned about the potential loss of historical records. . . .

    "Each missing e-mail is one less piece of the puzzle of how policies are made and decisions are reached. In an ideal world, the National Archives would have more than an advisory role in how records are handled during a president's term. An attempt to give it some authority could set up a fight between the legislative and executive branches. When it comes to preserving the nation's history, that's a battle worth waging."

    Pete Yost writes for the Associated Press: "A federal judge agreed Monday to allow a private group to delve into the operations of an office at the White House as part of a controversy over whether large amounts of e-mail have disappeared.

    "Permitting any private organization to inquire into White House functions is an unusual step, a point U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly underscored in her six-page order.

    "The judge said she will allow Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington to gather a 'very limited' amount of information from the White House Office of Administration, which is in charge of preserving e-mail.

    "The issue for Kollar-Kotelly is whether the Office of Administration operates with substantial independent authority. If the judge finds that it does, the private group can pursue data about what went wrong with the White House e-mail system.

    "If the judge decides that the office's functions are limited to serving the president, she likely will dismiss the suit. . . .

    "The Office of Administration, along with the Office of Management and Budget and other White House units with substantial independent authority, regularly provided records under the Freedom of Information Act in the past."

    Budget Watch
    Richard Wolf writes in USA Today: "First lady Laura Bush read Goodnight Moon by video hookup at last year's awards gala for Reading Is Fundamental, a $25 million federal program that distributes books to low-income children. Five months later, President Bush wants to say good night to the program.

    "The Bush administration lays out its case today against 151 federal programs it proposes to eliminate or reduce, including Reading Is Fundamental, even though Bush's success rate in Congress has declined steadily since the 2006 fiscal year."

    Michael Abramowitz and Robin Wright write in The Washington Post: "President Bush drew great applause during his State of the Union address last month when he called on Congress to allow U.S. troops to transfer their unused education benefits to family members. 'Our military families serve our nation, they inspire our nation, and tonight our nation honors them,' he said.

    "A week later, however, when Bush submitted his $3.1 trillion federal budget to Congress, he included no funding for such an initiative, which government analysts calculate could cost $1 billion to $2 billion annually."

    Robert Pear writes in the New York Times: "President Bush often denounces the propensity of Congress to earmark money for pet projects. But in his new budget, Mr. Bush has requested money for thousands of similar projects. . . .

    "Thus, for example, the president requested $330 million to deal with plant pests like the emerald ash borer, the light brown apple moth and the sirex woodwasp. . . .

    "At the same time, Mr. Bush requested $894,000 for an air traffic control tower in Kalamazoo, Mich.; $12 million for a parachute repair shop at the American air base in Aviano, Italy; and $6.5 million for research in Wyoming on the 'fundamental properties of asphalt.' . . .

    "The White House contends that when the president requests money for a project, it has gone through a rigorous review -- by the agency, the White House or both -- using objective criteria."

    Recession Watch
    Neil Irwin writes in The Washington Post: "The economy may grow slowly the first half of this year, the Bush administration said yesterday, but it is not in recession.

    "The economic stimulus bill that President Bush plans to sign this week, combined with interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve, will result in stronger growth in the second half of the year, according to the annual Economic Report of the President.

    "'I don't think that we are in a recession right now, and we are not forecasting a recession,' said Edward P. Lazear, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, in a briefing with reporters. 'We are forecasting slower growth.'"

    But Edmund L. Andrews writes in the New York Times that "a growing number of analysts contend that the United States has already slipped into a recession and will get only a temporary lift from the stimulus package this summer."

    Jeannine Aversa writes for the Associated Press: "The heck with Congress' big stimulus bill. The way to get the country out of recession -- and most people think we're in one -- is to get the country out of Iraq, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll.

    "Pulling out of the war ranked first among proposed remedies in the survey, followed by spending more on domestic programs, cutting taxes and, at the bottom end, giving rebates to poor people in hopes they'll spend the economy into recovery."

    More From the Fox Interview
    Peter Baker writes in The Washington Post: "President Bush waded directly into the presidential campaign in an interview broadcast yesterday, defending Sen. John McCain as a 'true conservative' but warning that his onetime rival needs to shore up relations with the Republican Party's base to take the fight into the general election this fall."

    As for W's relationship with George Herbert Walker Bush?

    Wallace: "I wonder what you make of all the talk and you've read it, you've heard it, that you're either trying to pass your father or you're trying to copy him, that you went into Iraq to finish the job because he didn't or that you organized your first term to try to win the reelection, he didn't.

    "What do you -- set the record straight on that."

    Bush: "It's shallow. Shallow psychobabble. You asked me what I think. It's -- "

    Wallace: "Well -- "

    Bush: "A bunch of people obviously got too much time on their hands."

    Karl Rove Watch
    Arielle Levin Becker writes in the Hartford Courant: "'I appreciate that I'm a myth,' Karl Rove told the 850 or so Choate Rosemary Hall students, administrators and faculty members who packed an auditorium on the prep school's Wallingford campus Monday. . . .

    "Rove had been a prominent figure in campus debate since plans for him to speak at Choate's June graduation became public. Some students, who deemed him too controversial or unethical to grace their commencement, plotted protests. Late last month, Rove opted to speak to students in a special program Monday rather than at graduation. . . .

    "The event was closed to the public and most media outlets, but the school granted The Courant's request to attend."

    Becker describes Rove's predictably contentious responses to the students who dared challenge him.

    "The final question came from Alessio Manti, a senior who had been outspoken in his opposition to Rove's planned graduation visit. Manti asked if Rove considered himself a role model.

    "'Frankly, with all due respect, I don't care to be a role model for anybody except my family,' he said."

    Fourth Branch Strikes Again
    Robert Barnes writes in The Washington Post: "Vice President Cheney signed on to a brief filed by a majority of Congress yesterday that urged the Supreme Court to uphold a ruling that the District of Columbia's handgun ban is unconstitutional, breaking with his own administration's official position.

    "Cheney joined 55 senators and 250 House members in asking the court to find that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess firearms and to uphold a lower court's ruling that the D.C. ban violates that right. That position is at odds with the one put forward by the administration, which angered gun rights advocates when it suggested that the justices return the case to lower courts for further review.

    "In order to make his dramatic break with the administration, Cheney invoked his rarely used status as part of Congress, joining the brief as 'President of the United States Senate, Richard B. Cheney.' It is a position he has used at times to make the point that he is sometimes part of the legislative branch and sometimes part of the executive. . . .

    "Lawyers said it may be unprecedented for a vice president to take a position in a case before the high court that is at odds with one the Justice Department puts forward as the administration's official position."

    A Musician's Dilemma
    Pianist and conductor Leon Fleisher writes in a Washington Post op-ed about the downside of being a Kennedy Center Honoree: "What made me unhappy and continues to trouble me was that I was required to attend a White House reception on the afternoon of the gala. I cannot speak for the other honorees, but while I profoundly respect the presidency, I am horrified by many of President Bush's policies.

    "In the past seven years, Bush administration policies have amounted to a systematic shredding of our nation's Constitution -- the illegal war it initiated and perpetuates; the torturing of prisoners; the espousing of 'values' that include a careful defense of the 'rights' of embryos but show a profligate disregard for the lives of flesh-and-blood human beings; and the flagrant dismantling of environmental protections. These, among many other depressing policies, have left us weak and shamed at home and in the world.

    "For several weeks before the honors, I wrestled with this dilemma, deciding in the end that I would not attend the reception at the White House. That decision was met with deep, if understandable, disapproval by the powers that be. . . . I was asked to attend all of the scheduled events and to follow the well-established protocol of silence. . . .

    "In the end, I decided to attend wearing a peace symbol around my neck and a purple ribbon on my lapel, at once showing support for our young men and women in the armed services and calling for their earliest return home."

    Live Online
    I'll be Live Online tomorrow at 1 p.m. ET. Come join the conversation.

    Cartoon Watch
    Tom Toles and Paul Conrad on the Bush legacy; Dan Wasserman on the fruits of torture; Clay Bennett on Bush's leadership; Jeff Danziger and Bruce Beattie on McCain's Bush problem; Ann Telnaes's patriotic performance measurements.

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    9/11 families fear tribunal secrets
    Seek answers, death penalty

    By Joe Dwinell
    Wednesday, February 13, 2008 - Updated 7h ago

    Families of 9/11 victims fear a military tribunal of six accused al-Qaeda killers will end with too many secrets being carried to the grave.

    Family members tell the Herald they want justice - including executions as the ultimate penalty - but also a public airing of security failures and names of Arab moneymen who bankrolled the terrorists.

    “I hope we can follow the terrorists’ routes and learn about the frontmen,” said Mike Low, whose 28-year-old daughter, Sara Low of Boston, was a flight attendant on American Airlines [AMR] Flight 11 that hijackers slammed into the World Trade Center north tower.

    Bill Doyle, who lost his son, Joey, in the attacks said he’s suing the government for $1 trillion to expose who financed the terrorists. A tribunal, he said, may help or doom his complex litigation.

    “There are so many clouds around 9/11,” he told the Herald yesterday. “Yet it’s ludicrous we don’t know who financed the terrorists. It could be a wealthy sheik or some charity.

    “Khalid Sheikh Mohammed didn’t just reach into his checkbook,” added Doyle, a New Yorker who heads the nation’s largest group of 9/11 families. “It can’t just be a slam dunk - ‘You’re guilty!’ - and just electrocute or hang them.”

    The trial for the six Guantanamo Bay detainees isn’t expected to kick off for months and may not end, experts predict, until President Bush leaves office in January.

    The accused include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of Sept. 11; Mohammed al-Qahtani, who officials have labeled the 20th hijacker; and Waleed bin Attash, who investigators say selected and trained some of the 19 hijackers.

    In an effort to sell the tribunal to the world, the Bush administration yesterday instructed U.S. diplomats to recall the executions of a dozen Nazi war criminals after World War II.

    A four-page cable sent to U.S. embassies and obtained by The Associated Press states that execution as punishment for extreme violations of the laws of war is internationally accepted.

    If found guilty, the six terrorists can possibly be executed by lethal injection at the Guantanamo Bay base under U.S. Army regulations.

    Rhode Island attorney Don Migliori, who represents 9/11 families still suing the airlines and security companies, said no matter what transpires at Guantanamo, an open 9/11 archive must be part of the final verdict.

    “We will not stop litigating this case until the information we uncovered is released to the public,” he told the Herald, adding his clients are only after “the truth.”
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Can there be fair trials in 9/11 cases?

    February 13, 2008

    The proposed death penalty is not the problem with the latest charges filed against six Guantanamo terrorist suspects. If anyone merits the ultimate penalty, it is those legitimately convicted of plotting the 9/11 terror attacks.

    The real question is whether these men can receive a fair public trial that satisfies U.S. legal standards and global scrutiny. The established commission process seems to make that unlikely. That at least two of the suspects may have been tortured ... makes matters worse.

    The military commission system ... allows evidence obtained by coercion, hearsay testimony and secret proceedings. One former chief prosecutor resigned, saying that "full, fair and open trials were not possible" in the system.

    The commissions do guarantee each defendant a military lawyer. That's good in theory. On Monday, however, seven of the military's eight defense attorneys already were in trials. The eighth was in his first day on the job.

    The best known among the suspects is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged 9/11 mastermind. Last week, the CIA confirmed that he was subjected to waterboarding, a form of controlled drowning that can cause death if not stopped and a technique long condemned as torture.

    Also charged was Mohammed al-Qahtani. Held at Guantanamo almost six years, he was subjected to a variety of "aggressive interrogation methods" that included sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, threats to his mother and intimidation by dogs.

    Mohammed and al-Qahtani may well be murderous terrorists. But how can truth be sorted from their admissions when people will confess to anything under torture?

    To try high-profile suspects under questionable rules with suspect evidence invites more legal challenges and international scorn. Unless their trial is scrupulously fair, convictions and the death penalty would increase the international outrage. The last thing this country needs is to help terrorists become martyrs.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Pentagon to challenge interview of 9/11 suspect

    Posted on Tue, Feb. 19, 2008

    Pentagon prosecutors are challenging a military court's decision to let Osama bin Laden's driver send written questions to alleged senior al Qaeda members held incommunicado at Guantánamo.

    Defense lawyers for Salim Hamdan, 36, want to ask reputed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, known in CIA circles as ''KSM,'' and six other ''high-value detainees'' what they know about Hamdan's role in al Qaeda's organization.

    Based on their answers, they will decide whether to call as defense witnesses any of the seven men, who are fellow detainees now but were held and interrogated for years by the CIA.

    Last week, Navy Capt. Keith Allred, Hamdan's military commission judge, ruled that defense lawyers could submit questions to an independent security officer to give to Mohammed and the others held in a restricted prison camp on the base called Camp 7.

    The judge ordered that the questions and answers be strictly limited to the time before Hamdan's capture in November 2001 in Afghanistan. Censors will black out any responses that don't cover that time period.

    Navy Lt. Catheryne Pully, a military commissions spokeswoman, said on Monday that the prosecution would seek ''reconsideration'' of the judge's decision, which the prosecutors believed raised ``a lot of complicated issues.''

    Intelligence officials have described as national security secrets the CIA sites where Mohammed and 14 other detainees were held before their September 2006 transfer to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Now they are held in Camp 7, segregated from other detainees at an undisclosed site on the remote U.S. Navy base. The prison camps' spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Rick Haupt, has not been able to say whether the location of the camp itself is a national security secret.

    Allred gave the prosecution until Tuesday to find an independent security officer -- who does not work for the prosecution -- to handle the defense lawyers' questions and detainees' answers, if they choose to reply.

    Hamdan attorney Andrea Prasow, a civilian on the Defense Department team, said the Pentagon prosecutors agreed to identify the security officer but notified the team on Saturday that they would ask for reconsideration of the question.

    Hamdan's lawyers wanted to meet the men in person to assess their credibility as potential witnesses at Hamdan's summertime trial.

    The lead defense lawyer, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brad Mizer, said the attorneys also sought face-to-face meetings with the detainees because, after years in CIA custody, the captives might suspect written questions as an interrogation trick.

    Allred's remedy to the defense lawyers mirrors a 2003 formula proposed by a federal judge at the civilian trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, who eventually pleaded guilty to providing material support for al Qaeda and is now serving a life sentence.

    In that case, the Justice Department refused to let the defense send questions to Mohammed, the reputed 9/11 mastermind. At the time, he was under CIA interrogation, and the government argued his testimony would harm the war effort.

    In this instance, the men Hamdan's lawyers seek to question are now among 15 former CIA detainees in military custody at Guantánamo.
    • Mohammed, who according to Pentagon transcripts confessed to plotting the 9/11 attacks along with a long string of other al Qaeda suicide bombings, as well as beheading Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl in Pakistan.
    • Ramzi bin al Shib, a Yemeni and Mohammed's alleged go-between with some of the 9/11 attackers.
    • Walid bin Attash, another Yemeni who supposedly trained some of the hijackers.
    • Mustafa al Hawsawi, who supposedly helped get funds to the Sept. 11 suicide squads.

    Those four men were identified as candidates for execution at Guantánamo as part of a complex, six-detainee prosecution the Pentagon unveiled last week. Their charge sheets await approval from a Bush administration appointee. None of them yet have lawyers.

    In addition, Hamdan's lawyers asked to interview Abu Faraj al Libi, Abdul Rahim al Nashiri and Abdul Hadi al Iraqi because of their knowledge of other al Qaeda operations in Afghanistan not tied to the Sept. 11 strikes.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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