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

  1. #141
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    Relatives of 9/11 Victims Add a Passionate Layer to Guantánamo Debate

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/10/us...mo.html?ref=us

    By WILLIAM GLABERSON
    Published: December 9, 2008

    GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — After the detainees charged with the plotting of the Sept. 11 attacks discussed confessing this week, something unusual was heard here: a vigorous public defense of Guantánamo.

    “Guantánamo Bay has gotten a bad rap,” said Alice Hoagland, whose son was killed in the 2001 attack.

    Hamilton Peterson, whose father was killed that day, said the procedures of the much-criticized military commission tribunal seemed plenty fair. “The entire day,” he said, “was giving these defendants their due.”

    The routine here has long included officials making their case for the detentions and trials at the Guantánamo naval base in muted bureaucratese about “fair and open” proceedings. They were outmatched by human rights groups and defense lawyers, with their inflammatory accusations about torture and secret evidence.

    This week, the Pentagon brought victims’ families for the first time as observers. The half-dozen family members who spoke to reporters gave the Pentagon the counterpoint it had been lacking.

    They also provided a sample of the emotional crosscurrents swirling around President-elect Barack Obama over Guantánamo. He has said he will close the detention camp. But its critics worry he may not carry through. He has said the military commission system has failed. But its critics worry that he may continue it, particularly with the Sept. 11 case now at a pivotal stage.

    For each side in the seven-year struggle over Guantánamo, this is the definitive moment in an argument that is a surrogate for other arguments about America’s definition of justice and its role in the world.

    This week, that meant the victims’ families were in the thick of an old debate, suddenly turbocharged. Some of them called for Mr. Obama to keep Guantánamo open. Others said the military tribunal here should be permitted to finish its work.

    The unaccustomed rebuttal unsettled the Bush administration’s critics here. Defense lawyers and human rights monitors said the Pentagon was using the victims’ family members and had handpicked those invited.

    Officials insisted the family members had been selected randomly. But the chief military defense lawyer here, Col. Peter R. Masciola, said he wondered “what the government is trying to make you believe by only bringing the victims they want to bring.”

    Thomas A. Durkin, a defense lawyer from Chicago who represents one of those accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks, said the display of the victims’ relatives was an effort to make it politically risky for Mr. Obama to close the military commissions by making it appear that abandoning the military commissions would be abandoning the victims too.

    “This show trial is nothing more today than an effort to blackmail him politically,” Mr. Durkin said.

    Pentagon officials have a track record of trying to line up pro-Bush-administration observers. In June, the Pentagon withdrew an invitation it had extended to another relative of a Sept. 11 victim, Debra Burlingame, after news organizations learned that she had been invited without any other victims’ representatives. Ms. Burlingame had written that detainees’ lawyers “subvert the truth and transform the Constitution into a lethal weapon.”

    This week’s appearance by the victims’ family members came at an awkward juncture for the Pentagon. Its public position is that it stands ready to carry out Mr. Obama’s orders on Guantánamo once he becomes president. But some military officials have been working behind the scenes to convince transition officials that the military commissions may be useful in fighting terrorism.

    Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who is to remain in the new administration, muddied the current debate about Guantánamo by saying last week that closing the detention camp was a priority but adding, “I think some legislation probably is needed as part of it.”

    The Pentagon has long argued that to close Guantánamo and transfer some detainees to the United States, Congress should pass legislation declaring that the government has the authority to hold detainees indefinitely in the United States even if they are not convicted of any charges.

    Civil liberties groups and other critics of the Bush administration have been on alert for any sign that the Obama administration would consider asking for an indefinite detention law. That, in the view of some of critics, would be a first retreat by Mr. Obama on Guantánamo. An Obama call for indefinite detention, they say, could be one short step from continuing the military commissions.

    The public debate here has always been a concentrated version of the debate in Washington about detention. This week, there was more at stake because everyone seemed to think it might be their last chance.

    For the victims’ families it was their first chance at that last word. Jim Samuel of Brick, N.J., went to the courtroom here to see the men who proudly said they planned the World Trade Center attack. “My son was on the 92nd floor,” he said.

    There were some things this week for which there was no rebuttal.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  2. #142
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    9/11 Victims' Families Challenge Legitimacy Of Guantánamo Military Commissions

    http://www.aclu.org/safefree/detenti...s20081210.html

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org
    12/10/2008

    NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today released a statement from 31 9/11 victims' family members challenging the legitimacy of the Guantánamo military commissions and their ability to achieve justice.

    Below is the full text of the statement:

    9/11 FAMILY MEMBERS CHALLENGE LEGITIMACY OF GUANTÁNAMO MILITARY COMMISSIONS

    As family members who lost loved ones on 9/11, we feel compelled to speak out about this week's proceedings at Guantánamo. Recently, the Guantánamo military commissions office announced that victims' family members would be permitted, on a lottery basis, to attend the Guantánamo legal hearings of those accused of planning the 9/11 attacks. The lottery system inherently results in the granting of media attention to the select few who are chosen, and whose views are not necessarily representative of all victims' families. The media coverage of Monday's commission hearings included statements attributed to attending family members that the tribunals provided a fair hearing for these prosecutions and that family members "were struck by the extensive rights accorded the accused men."

    While we support everyone's right to their individual opinions about these proceedings, including, of course, other family members who have suffered the devastation we have, we also feel obliged to make clear that many of us do not believe these military commissions to be fair, in accordance with American values, or capable of achieving the justice that 9/11 family members and all Americans deserve.

    We believe that the secretive and unconstitutional nature of these proceedings deprive us of the right to know the full truth about what happened on 9/11. These prosecutions have been politically motivated from the start, are designed to ensure quick convictions at the expense of due process and transparency, and are structured to prevent the revelation of abusive interrogations and torture engaged in by the U.S. government. Unfortunately, any verdict borne of these proceedings will lack legitimacy and leave us wondering if true justice has been served. No comfort or closure can come from military commissions that ignore the rule of law and stain America's reputation at home and abroad.

    We are strongly encouraged by the incoming administration's promise to end this shameful system, and we are hopeful for a fresh start for these and all other Guantánamo prosecutions in U.S. courts worthy of American justice. It is time for our nation to stop betraying its own values – and the values of so many who died on 9/11.

    Anne M. Mulderry, Kinderhook, New York, mother of Stephen V. Mulderry

    Terry Kay Rockefeller, Arlington, MA, sister of Laura Rockefeller

    J. William Harris, Arlington, MA, brother-in-law of Laura Rockefeller

    Loretta Filipov, Concord, MA, wife of Alexander M. Filipov

    Alissa Torres, New York, NY, wife of Luis Eduardo Torres

    Bob McIlvaine, Oreland, PA, father of Bobby McIlvaine

    Wright Salisbury, Lexington, MA, father-in-law of Edward Hennessy, Jr.

    Barbara and Jim Fyfe, Durham, NC, parents of Karleton Douglas Beye Fyfe

    Robyn Bernstein, Bolton, MA, daughter of Roberta Bernstein Heber

    Patricia J. and James L. Perry, M.D., Seaford, NY, parents of NYPD officer John W. Perry

    Rita Lasar, New York, NY, sister of Abraham Zelmanowitz

    Valerie Lucznikowska, New York, NY, aunt of Adam Arias

    Marion Kminek, Cape Coral, FL, mother of Mari-Rae Sopper

    Kate Walsh Calton, Tampa, FL, wife of James Walsh

    Beverly Eckert, Stamford, CT, wife of Sean Rooney

    Monica Gabrielle, wife of Richard Gabrielle

    Lorie Van Auken, wife of Kenneth Van Auken

    Dr. Robin S. Theurkauf, wife of Thomas Theurkauf

    Andrea N. LeBlanc, Lee, NH, wife of Robert G. LeBlanc

    Frank Tatum, Stillwater, NY, son of Diane Moore Parsons

    Antonio Aversano, Hadley, MA, son of Louis F. Aversano, Jr.

    Nissa Youngren, Rochester, NY, daughter of Robert G. LeBlanc

    Paula Shapiro, Pala, CA, mother of Eric Adam Eisenberg

    Patricia Casazza, wife of John Casazza

    Mindy Kleinberg, wife of Alan Kleinberg

    Sheila Rooney, Fayetteville, NY, sister of Sean Rooney

    Rosemary Dillard, wife of Eddie A. Dillard

    Blake Allison, Lyme, NH, husband of Anna S.W. Allison

    Roxanna K. Myhrum, Cambridge, MA, niece of Sean Rooney
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  3. #143
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    9/11 families condemn tribunals

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7776666.stm

    12/11/2008

    Thirty-three relatives of people killed in the 9/11 attacks on the US have denounced the Guantanamo war crimes trials as illegitimate and unfair.

    In a letter posted on a civil liberties website, the relatives say the military trials are politically motivated.

    Pre-trial hearings began on Monday in Guantanamo for five prisoners charged with plotting the 9/11 attacks.

    Other 9/11 relatives brought to the hearings by the Pentagon praised them as giving the accused a fair trial.

    "Many of us do not believe these military commissions to be fair, in accordance with American values, or capable of achieving the justice that 9/11 family members and all Americans deserve," says the statement posted on the website of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

    "These prosecutions have been politically motivated from the start, are designed to ensure quick convictions at the expense of due process and transparency, and are structured to prevent the revelation of abusive interrogations and torture engaged in by the US government."

    The statement continues: "No comfort or closure can come from military commissions that ignore the rule of law and stain America's reputation at home and abroad."

    Nearly 3,000 people were killed on 11 September 2001 when four planes were hijacked and crashed into New York City's World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a farm field in Pennsylvania.

    Alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-defendants said they wanted to plead guilty at Monday's pre-trial hearing at Guantanamo Bay.

    He said they would postpone their pleas until an investigation to determine whether two of the defendants are mentally competent to stand trial is complete.

    The five men face death sentences if convicted.

    No trial date has been set and there seems little chance that one will begin before President-elect Barack Obama takes office in January.

    He has said he is opposed to the military tribunals and has pledged to close down the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  4. #144
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    A family feud over the fate of Guantanamo
    The Pentagon gives a platform to family members of Sept. 11 victims who support the prison and tribunal. Relatives who oppose them make their own statement.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo...,1504784.story

    By Carol J. Williams
    December 11, 2008

    Reporting from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- Foes and supporters of the Guantanamo prisons and tribunal have stepped up the debate over the fate of the controversial operations by enlisting relatives of Sept. 11 victims in an ideological duel.

    Thirty-one family members of victims announced in a letter distributed Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union that they considered the Bush administration's prosecution of terrorism suspects here unconstitutional and politically motivated.

    Their statement in support of President-elect Barack Obama's vow to close Guantanamo came after emotional appeals made Monday by nine relatives selected by the Pentagon and brought here to witness proceedings against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other alleged Sept. 11 plotters.

    Several of the family members who were whisked in and out of Guantanamo over a three-day period said they had been told Obama might be persuaded to continue the trials now that he was privy to intelligence about the national security value of the tribunal.

    "I would like to see this continue on as smoothly as possible," said Vaughn Hoglan, whose nephew Mark Bingham died in the crash of United Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. "I feel they're being treated very fairly."

    Hamilton Peterson, whose father and stepmother died in the same crash as Bingham, said, "Guantanamo Bay seems to be daubed with the same dark brush" as Abu Ghraib prison, which he said was unfair.

    Peterson expressed confidence that Obama would come to understand the logic of retaining the prison and carrying on the prosecution of the alleged Sept. 11 perpetrators.

    The Pentagon didn't coach the family members to speak in defense of Guantanamo, said Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey D. Gordon, who organized a news conference with the relatives. But he conceded that as an advocate for Guantanamo, it crossed his mind that the family members could provide an influential voice in the debate.

    Defense lawyers and human rights groups described the news conference as propaganda and an exploitation of the relatives' suffering.

    Thomas Durkin, a civilian defense lawyer for Yemeni suspect Ramzi Binalshibh, called the presentation of grieving family members praising the tribunal an attempt at "political blackmail" to force Obama to retreat from his promise to close the court and prisons.

    The ACLU, which has campaigned to close Guantanamo since the first terrorism suspects arrived in January 2002, distributed the letter signed by 31 different relatives saying the views expressed Monday were "not necessarily representative of all victims' families."

    "Many of us do not believe these military commissions to be fair, in accordance with American values, or capable of achieving the justice that 9/11 family members and all Americans deserve," the letter said.

    "We believe that the secretive and unconstitutional nature of these proceedings deprive us of the right to know the full truth about what happened on 9/11," the letter added.

    Robin Theurkauf, whose husband died in the World Trade Center, said she was never offered a chance to take part in the "lottery" the Pentagon said it conducted to select family members for the trip. Flights to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay are limited, as are accommodations, which Gordon cited as reasons for the small delegation.

    "I was kind of annoyed when I found out this opportunity was being offered to some and not others, based on their political beliefs," said Theurkauf, a Yale University professor of international relations who has been critical of Guantanamo.

    She said she wanted to see the men accused of masterminding the deaths of her husband and nearly 3,000 others, even though she considers the tribunal illegitimate and opposes the death penalty that the five suspects face.

    Michael J. Berrigan, deputy chief defense counsel for the tribunal, said the Pentagon's arrangements to bring supportive family members to Guantanamo raised questions about political motives.

    "I think it's absolutely appropriate to have victims' families witness trials and justice being done. But I don't think justice is being done here," said Berrigan, who said he preferred to try terrorism suspects in U.S. courts that complied with the Constitution and Geneva Conventions.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  5. #145
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    9/11 families denounce Guantanamo trials

    http://africa.reuters.com/world/news/usnN10339403.html

    By Jane Sutton
    Thu 11 Dec 2008, 7:18 GMT

    GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - Two dozen people who lost loved ones in the September 11 attacks issued a statement on Wednesday denouncing the Guantanamo war crimes trials as illegitimate, shameful and politically motivated.

    Their criticism came in response to passionate praise for the Guantanamo tribunals from other victims' relatives, whom the Pentagon brought to the remote U.S. naval base in Cuba this week to observe pretrial hearings for five prisoners charged with plotting the September 11 attacks.

    "These prosecutions have been politically motivated from the start, are designed to ensure quick convictions at the expense of due process and transparency, and are structured to prevent the revelation of abusive interrogations and torture engaged in by the U.S. government," said the 24 relatives who signed Wednesday's statement, which was distributed through the American Civil Liberties Union.

    They said any verdict in the Guantanamo proceedings, which are formally known as military commissions, would leave them wondering if justice had been served.

    "No comfort or closure can come from military commissions that ignore the rule of law and stain America's reputation at home and abroad," they said. "It is time for our nation to stop betraying its own values and the values of so many who died on 9/11."

    No one group could possibly speak for all the relatives of the 2,973 people killed when al Qaeda militants crashed hijacked airliners into the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001.

    Relatives of five victims were chosen by the U.S. Department of Defence to attend Monday's hearing, in which self-confessed September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-defendants offered to confess and plead guilty.

    The pleas were delayed indefinitely by questions about the tribunal rules and the defendants' sanity.

    In a news conference after the hearing, those relatives were emotional and unanimous in their view that the Guantanamo tribunals were fair and should continue.

    They said they were proud of the rights the defendants were afforded and marvelled that they were offered prayer breaks and respectful treatment even as they seemed to boast of their guilt.

    That group was chosen by random lottery from among more than 100 September 11 families who applied to attend, said a Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. J.D. Gordon. The scarcity of flights and housing at the remote Guantanamo base made it necessary to limit the size of the group, he said.

    Tom Durkin, one of defendant Ramzi Binalshibh's civilian lawyers, accused the Pentagon of trying to use those families' grief to blackmail President-elect Barack Obama into continuing the Guantanamo tribunals.

    Obama has said he would shut the Guantanamo detention camps and move the terrorism trials into the regular U.S. civilian and military courts.

    Hamilton Peterson, whose father and stepmother, Donald and Jean Peterson, died on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, predicted Obama would change his mind as he learns more in security briefings about those held at Guantanamo.

    "I think he will come to the realization that this is a very appropriate, fair venue," Peterson said in the Pentagon news conference.

    But even among that group there was disagreement about what should happen to the September 11 defendants if they are convicted. Some said they favoured executing them, and some of the defendants themselves have said they welcomed martyrdom.

    But Alice Hoagland, whose son Mark Bingham also died on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, said they did not deserve to be treated as martyrs.

    "There are things worse than death and one of those things is to spend your life totally under the control of people you profess to hate ... we should be sure that these dreadful people sit out their lives in a United States prison so that we can demonstrate that we are a compassionate people and a nation of laws and we have higher respect for life than they have, even their miserable lives."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  6. #146
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    9/11 families sign letter protesting Guantanamo trials
    Wife of ex-Islander killed in Trade Center among those in opposition to the proceedings

    http://www.silive.com/news/advance/i...960.xml&coll=1

    Thursday, December 11, 2008
    By AMY WESTFELDT
    Associated Press

    STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Two dozen Sept. 11 family members signed a letter yesterday opposing the military trials of five men charged with orchestrating the terrorist attacks, and some suggested their opinions cost them a spot attending the proceedings.

    While the family members who attended this week's proceedings at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba expressed support for the tribunals, "we also feel obliged to make clear that many of us do not believe these military commissions to be fair, in accordance with American values, or capable of achieving the justice that 9/11 family members and all Americans deserve," read the letter, released by the American Civil Liberties Union.

    Robin Theurkauf, whose husband was killed at the World Trade Center, said she sought to attend the proceedings in person but was denied a spot in a lottery for family members.

    "I testified for the defense in the Moussaoui trial," Theurkauf said, referring to the trial of the convicted Sept. 11 conspirator. "I think I was skipped over because of that."

    Lorie Van Auken, who also sought to attend the hearings in person, has been a prominent critic of the Guantanamo proceedings, saying the government used torture to coerce confessions.

    If opponents of the process had attended, "we would have been much more critical," said Van Auken. "It could be that they didn't want the critical voices to be heard."

    Van Auken's husband, Kenneth, 47, worked as a bond broker for Cantor Fitzgerald and was killed in the Trade Center. He was born in Great Kills and raised in Prince's Bay, moving to East Brunswick, N.J., in 1991.

    Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, said yesterday that five family members were chosen through a random selection computer program to attend the proceedings from a pool of 113 people. Their selection was "based on what came through the computer," not their opinions, he said. Each family member was allowed to bring someone, he said.

    The victims' relatives were allowed to observe the war-crimes proceedings for the first time on Monday.

    The five detainees, including alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, said they intended to abandon their defenses to charges they orchestrated the 2001 terrorist attack and confess.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  7. #147
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    9/11 victims' families in row over Guantanamo trials

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...mo-trials.html

    By Tom Leonard in New York
    Last Updated: 7:58PM GMT 11 Dec 2008

    The victims' family members signed a letter released by the American Civil Liberties Union which claimed the military trials were politically motivated.

    The letter, posted on the ACLU's website, said: "Many of us do not believe these military commissions to be fair, in accordance with American values, or capable of achieving the justice that 9/11 familes members and all Americans deserve".

    They said the prosecutions were designed to ensure "quick convictions" and "prevent the revelation of abusive interrogations and torture" by the US military.

    The letter was a direct response to comments made by other victims' relatives, who said the treatment of detainees at the Guantanamo naval base in Cuba was justified.

    On Monday, a group of nine relatives were allowed for the first time to watch the pre-trial hearings of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men facing multiple murder charges.

    Some of them later told reporters they supported the proceedings at Guantanamo and called on Barack Obama to ensure the men behind the terror attacks received justice.

    Robin Theurkauf, whose husband was killed at the World Trade Centre, said she had wanted to attend the proceedings but was denied a place in a lottery for family members.

    "I testified for the defence in the (Zacarias) Moussaoui trial," she said, referring to the convicted Sept 11 conspirator. "I think I was skipped over because of that."

    Lorie Van Auken, who also lost her husband in the New York attack, said she, too, had been unsuccessful in her attempt to attend the hearing.

    "It could be that they didn't want the critical voices to be heard," she said.

    A Pentagon spokesman insisted that the nine relatives allowed in court had been chosen randomly by a computer.

    The five suspects surprised their pre-trial hearing by announcing that they wanted to abandon their defence and confess to charges that could lead to their execution.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  8. #148
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    ACLU Uses 9/11 Victims' Families to Challenge Legitimacy of Military Commissions

    http://www.axcessnews.com/index.php/.../show/id/17204

    (Gold9472: Worthless, uneducated piece of crap.)

    By Jim Kouri
    12/11/2008

    (AXcess News) Washington - The shysters at the American Civil Liberties Union yesterday released a statement from 25 9/11 victims' family members challenging the legitimacy of the Guantanamo military commissions and their ability to achieve justice. Personally, if I had my way, I'd release these terrorist killers into their custody and hold the ACLU legally liable for any acts including murder that they commit.

    Imagine the psychological makeup of these ACLU clowns who support the killing of innocent unborn children, while fretting over the well-being of murderers, bombers and other violent criminals and enemy combatants.

    Out of thousands of 9/11 victims' family members, it's amazing that the ACLU believes the rantings of 25 of them would carry much weight with anyone but left-wing nutjobs.

    Editor's note: the personal opinions expressed by Mr. Kouri are not necessarily those of this publication.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    Obama's 9/11 challenge

    http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/553256

    Dec 14, 2008 04:30 AM

    Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described Al Qaeda "mastermind" of the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, has managed to turn his long-awaited trial at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre for terrorists into a political circus.

    Mohammad and four co-defendants stunned the world last week by suddenly offering in what they called a "joint strategy" to plead guilty to the 9/11 attacks, provided that they can be assured of being executed. They apparently aspire to becoming jihadist martyrs at the hands of a U.S. military tribunal that commands scant respect. It is their suicidal way of striking yet another propaganda blow at America's already battered image in the world.

    But the cases will now drag into the new year and later.

    That may give U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, who will be sworn in Jan. 20, a chance to deny Mohammed and his crew the notoriety they crave. Obama should shut down the military commissions and transfer these cases to U.S. civilian courts where demonstrably fair trials can be held, and credible judgments rendered.

    The discredited Gitmo proceedings have been called "an embarrassment" and a "failed process" by the American Civil Liberties Union for good reason. Defendants are tried by a judge and jury of military officers, their sworn enemies. They are denied the basic right not to incriminate themselves. Evidence obtained by "alternative" interrogation techniques (that is, physical abuse) can be used. Evidence can be withheld from the defence.

    While obtaining convictions in U.S. federal courts would be more difficult, they would carry more weight. And if the suspects plead guilty, the federal courts can confirm that they are mentally competent and review relevant evidence before pronouncing judgment.

    As president, Obama has a duty to the victims of 9/11 to bring their killers to justice. But the military commissions insult the higher standards of American justice. As Obama turns the page on Bush's disastrous administration to repair America's standing, he can begin by closing down Gitmo's tainted tribunal, and deny the terrorists the political victory they seek.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    3 Algerians held at Guantanamo are released to Bosnia
    The move may mean the Bush White House has come to accept that its Guantanamo tactics are finally doomed.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo...,3123947.story

    By Carol J. Williams
    December 17, 2008

    In the Bush administration's first bow to a court directive to release prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Department of Defense flew three Algerians to their adopted homeland of Bosnia-Herzegovina on Tuesday.

    The Pentagon acknowledged in a tersely worded announcement that the release was in reaction to a federal judge's order last month to free five Algerians seized in Bosnia in 2001. The men were suspected of participating in a plot to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, but were ordered freed when authorities there dropped the allegations.

    The Pentagon did not explain why only three of the five were transferred.

    The government's decision to abide by the judge's order could signal that the administration has acknowledged in its final days that its controversial detention and interrogation practices are doomed. President-elect Barack Obama has promised to close Guantanamo.

    The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 stripped Guantanamo detainees of the right to challenge their detention in federal courts.

    The Supreme Court in June restored detainees' rights of habeas corpus in the case of Lakhdar Boumediene vs. Bush, a ruling that flooded federal courts with fresh petitions from most of Guantanamo's 250 detainees. Most of the habeas challenges are still pending judgment, holding out the prospect of further court-ordered releases.

    U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, an appointee of President Bush, was assigned what is known as "the Bosnians" case. In a weeklong hearing, government lawyers made no mention of the alleged embassy plot. Instead, they argued that the men were planning to go to Afghanistan to fight U.S. forces.

    Leon ruled Nov. 20 that the government lacked sufficient grounds to hold five of the six seized in 2001 and ordered their release. The sixth, Bensayah Belkacem, was linked to Al Qaeda and could be held indefinitely as an enemy combatant, Leon ruled.

    The three who arrived in Sarajevo and were whisked off to protective custody, according to news agencies, were Mustafa Ait Idir, Hadj Boudella and Mohamed Nechla, all naturalized Bosnian citizens. The two others ordered released, Saber Lahmar and Boumediene, remain at Guantanamo, according to their lawyers.

    The Justice Department had been expected to fight the release order at the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, which has generally supported the president's claims to enhanced powers in national security matters during its proclaimed war on terrorism.

    "For the first time in nearly seven years, three Supreme Court decisions, two acts of Congress stripping habeas jurisdiction, five deaths of men detained at the base, innumerable hunger strikes, illegal interrogations and untold abuse, men detained in Guantanamo landed safely in their home country as a result of an order for their release issued by a federal judge in a habeas case," said Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights that launched the habeas challenges for most Guantanamo detainees.

    In October, another federal judge ordered 17 Chinese Muslims released from Guantanamo because the Pentagon's office that periodically reviews the need to continue detaining terrorism suspects had long ago conceded there was no threat posed by the Uighurs, an oppressed Muslim community that spans western China and former Soviet republics in Central Asia.

    Five Uighurs had been sent to Albania in 2006 as the Pentagon attempted to resettle the captives, who could face persecution, torture or death in their homeland.

    But Beijing's angry reaction halted further transfers as European countries feared damage to their relations with China if they gave refuge to the minority China considers enemies of the state.

    The Washington appeals court stayed the order for release of the Uighurs a day after it was issued.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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