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

  1. #161
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    Jan 2005
    Guantanamo defense calls for charges to be dropped
    The convening authority said this week that some of the men facing trial were tortured. Dropping all charges 'is the legally and morally correct course,' the defense writes in a letter.,3335277.story

    By Carol J. Williams
    January 17, 2009

    All charges against Guantanamo prisoners should be dropped in light of the admission by the top war-crimes tribunal official that some of the 22 men facing trial were tortured, the tribunal's defense chief said Friday.

    The letter to Convening Authority Susan J. Crawford urged her to clear the controversial court's slate before the Tuesday inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, who has vowed to shut Guantanamo as one of his first actions.

    Withdrawal of the charges "is the legally and morally correct course," the defense team leader, Air Force Col. Peter R. Masciola, wrote to Crawford.

    Neither Crawford nor the spokesman for the Office of Military Commissions, Joseph DellaVedova, responded immediately to the letter disclosed to the media late Friday.

    Crawford told the Washington Post this week that she refused to authorize prosecution of alleged "20th hijacker" Mohammed Qahtani, the Saudi suspected of plotting with the Sept. 11 attackers, because "his treatment met the legal definition of torture."

    She also said in the only interview she has given in two years as tribunal overseer that she assumed torture had been used against other Sept. 11 suspects as well.

    Bush administration officials authorized the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" shortly after captured terror suspects were first brought to Guantanamo seven years ago.

    CIA Director Michael V. Hayden last year confirmed that waterboarding was used on three prisoners: confessed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, suspected Al Qaeda recruiter Abu Zubaydah, and the Saudi accused of plotting the USS Cole attack, Abd al Rahim al Nashiri.

    Waterboarding involves interrogators bringing their subject to the brink of death by drowning.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #162
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    Jan 2005
    9/11 terror suspects defiant at Guantánamo hearing


    GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- Guards shackled 9/11 terror suspect Ramzi bin al Shibh to the courtroom floor and suspect Khalid Sheik Mohammed again said he welcomed death Monday as the U.S. government sought to press ahead with its showcase war crimes trial on the eve of Barack Obama's inauguration.

    Throughout it all Judge Stephen Henley, an Army colonel, handled procedural issues in the case for which the Pentagon seeks military execution.

    ''I really don't care whether I'm shackled or not,'' declared bin al Shibh, a Yemeni whose U.S. appointed lawyers argue he may be mentally unfit to stand trial in the mass murder of nearly 3,000 on Sept. 11, 2001.

    Court records show that prison camp doctors have bin al Shibh on undisclosed psychotropic drugs. Monday, he and his four co-accused were wearing the white prison camp uniforms of compliant captives.

    Obeying the judge's order, Navy guards then surrounded bin al Shibh and removed the chains that clamped his ankles to an eye-bolt inside the courtroom.

    Monday's was the fifth hearing in the 9/11 capital case, which accuses the five men of financing, training and orchestrating the 19 men who hijacked the airliners for Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terror group.

    All five men were held and interrogated for years by the CIA before their September 2006 transfer for trial here, and several of the accused asked the judge to exclude their American lawyers from the defense tables. ''The people who have tortured me received their salaries from the American government, and the lawyers do, too,'' Mohammed said.

    Later he said: "We don't care about the capital punishment; we are doing jihad for the cause of God.''

    At one point, Shibh chimed in with, "We are proud of 9/11.''

    The session, held while the rest of the base observed the Martin Luther King Jr. Day federal holiday, was clouded with uncertainty and tension.

    Judge Henley spurned an 11th hour request by the chief Pentagon prosecutor to postpone this week's session until after the new administration takes over. Obama's lawyers have signaled they might seek to tweak, if not scrap, the special system the White House set up in the months after the 9/11 attacks, which was approved by Congress in 2006.

    Meantime, the military for the first time posted government contract censors inside a media center set up by the Pentagon to let invited journalists report on the proceedings. The so-called ''operational security officers,'' who typically decide what media images can leave the base, watched reporters while they watched the 9/11 hearing on closed-circuit broadcasts beamed from behind barbed wire inside adjacent Camp Justice.

    Two pretrial hearings were held simultaneously Monday -- for the 9/11 accused and for alleged teen terrorist Omar Khadr of Canada.

    And the first order of business at each was whether a Bush appointee directing military commissions unintentionally canceled the existing trials and initiated new proceedings by issuing new charge sheets in December.

    Defense lawyers argued the new charge sheets, signed by Convening Authority Susan Crawford and processed by a retired Army judge who serves as the commissions' clerk, Donna Wilkins, mooted everything that happened before.

    Case prosecutors say the Pentagon officials had simply sought to freshen up a jury pool of officers drawn from the different services. Some members of the original jury pool have since retired or been reassigned to new posts around the world, they argued.

    Ret. Army Col. Robert Swann, now a civilian and the Pentagon's lead 9/11 case prosecutor, called the new charge sheets ``a proper purpose with flawed execution.''

    In both cases, Henley and Judge Patrick Parrish ruled that the cases could move forward with pretrial hearings. Khadr is slated to go to trial Jan. 26. The 9/11 accused have no trial date, and the hearings so far have focused on discovery and procedural issues.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  3. #163
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    Jan 2005
    Barack Obama suspends Guantanamo Bay cases,27574...-23109,00.html

    By Jane Sutton
    January 21, 2009 04:19pm

    HOURS after taking office, US President Barack Obama ordered military prosecutors in the Guantanamo war crimes tribunals to ask for a 120-day halt in all pending cases.

    Military judges were expected to rule on the request today at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, an official involved in the trials said.

    The request would halt proceedings in 21 pending cases, including the death penalty case against five Guantanamo prisoners accused of plotting the September 11 hijacked plane attacks that killed nearly 3000 people.

    Prosecutors said in their written request that the halt was "in the interests of justice".

    Mr Obama has pledged to shut down the Guantanamo prison camp that was widely seen as a stain on the United States' human rights record and a symbol of detainee abuse and detention without charge under the administration of his predecessor, former President George W. Bush.

    Human rights activists and military defence lawyers had urged him to halt the special tribunals that are formally known as military commissions and move the prosecutions into the regular US courts.

    "In order to permit the newly inaugurated president and his administration time to review the military commission process, generally, and the cases currently pending before the military commissions, specifically, the secretary of defence has, by order of the president directed the chief prosecutor to seek continuances of 120 days in all pending case," prosecutors said in the document.

    About 248 foreign captives are still held at the detention center that opened in January 2002. The Bush administration had said it planned to try 80 prisoners on war crimes charges, but only three cases have been completed.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  4. #164
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    Jan 2005
    Barack Obama orders closure of Guantanamo Bay,00.html


    PRESIDENT Barack Obama has signed an executive order mandating the closure of Guantanamo Bay prison camp, in a sharp reversal of Bush administration anti-terror policy.

    Officials had privately indicated Obama would sign the order to close the camp, a potent symbol of Bush administration war on terror policies that were criticised by human rights groups and US critics abroad.

    White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the executive orders would set in train a "process whereby within a year the facility at Guantanamo Bay will be shut down."

    He also said executive orders would be signed relating to detention of inmates and the interrogation practices of US war on terror detainees.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  5. #165
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    Jan 2005
    September 11th Advocates Statement Regarding The Closing Of Guantanamo Bay

    For immediate release
    January 23, 2009

    The Guantanamo Bay Detention Center continues to be an enormous stain on America’s reputation. Newly elected President Obama has taken the first step in removing this stain by keeping his campaign promise to the American people.

    The temporary halting of proceedings at Gitmo gives us the “audacity to hope” that President Obama will be able to restore America's good name, which has been repeatedly tarnished during the past eight years.

    We appreciate the tough decisions that President Obama has been forced to make and admire him for taking these difficult tasks on. We look forward to hearing his plan for closing Guantanamo Bay forever, finding a just way to try the detainees and putting an end to this horrific chapter in America's history.

    # # #

    Patty Casazza
    Monica Gabrielle
    Mindy Kleinberg
    Lorie Van Auken

    Additonally, please see earlier statement below, which further explains our position.

    September 11th Advocates Statement
    April 3, 2008

    As women whose husbands were killed on September 11 2001, we feel strongly that the perpetrators of that horrific crime should be brought to justice. But first it is imperative to prove that these six detainees are indeed the guilty parties.

    Unfortunately, the Administration insists on trying the suspects in the broken military commissions system. Prosecuting these men within a system that is secretive in nature and lacking in due process, and which uses evidence tainted by questionable interrogation methods and possibly even torture, is a dangerous endeavor. All Americans, and indeed the entire international community, must have the opportunity to witness for themselves the body of evidence that ties these individuals to the 9/11 terrorists’ plot. Otherwise the credibility of any verdict will lack legitimacy. Moreover, unless these trials are above reproach, any convictions will bring the wrath of the international community, damaging what is left of America’s standing in the world. Considering that we continue to rely heavily on cooperation from other nations to provide us with intelligence information on would be terrorists, this course of action can only be detrimental to these crucial relationships, thereby jeopardizing our national security.

    These trials, when they finally take place, will be scrutinized around the globe. Unless the victims’ families, the American public and the entire world can be convinced that we are trying and convicting the people who are truly responsible for the 9/11 crimes, these trials will be seen as a miserable failure, dimming our prospects of improved international relationships, and making us more vulnerable to terrorist attacks in the future.

    On behalf of ourselves, our husbands, and our families, we support the American Civil Liberties Union in its pursuit of justice and insistence on due process. The only outcome worth pursuing is the truth, and the only way get there is by fair trials that uphold the Constitution.

    September 11th Advocates

    Patty Casazza
    Monica Gabrielle
    Mindy Kleinberg
    Lorie Van Auken
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  6. #166
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    Jan 2005
    Biden: Gitmo detainees likely won't be released into United States

    Nick Cargo and David Edwards
    Published: Sunday January 25, 2009

    On Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden told CBS' Bob Schieffer that detainees currently at Guantanamo Bay probably won't be released within the United States when the base has been shut down, as ordered by the President.

    All but one of the detainees in question, Biden said, are not American citizens. "They're either going to be moved and tried in American courts, tried in military courts, or they're going to be sent back to their countries of origin," he said, adding that they will be handled on a case-by-case basis. "We're trying to figure out exactly what we've inherited, here."

    "The one thing we do know, Bob, is that the maintenance of Guantanamo, its symbol, and the consequences of the symbolism around the world--it has grown terrorist organizations, not diminished terrorist organizations."

    National security and the Constitution, Biden went on, are not "inconsistent." Difficult decisions will need to be made, he said, and "the way in which Guantanamo was opened and operated initially raises additional issues as to how we are able to deal in American courts and in military courts under the uniform military's very complicated."

    This video is from CBS' Face the Nation, broadcast Jan. 25, 2009.

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

  7. #167
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    Jan 2005
    Families of 9/11 firefighters want Obama meeting,2621616.story

    By RICHARD PYLE | Associated Press Writer
    January 25, 2009

    NEW YORK - Three families of firefighters killed at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 want to meet with President Barack Obama to urge him to reverse his decision to suspend the trial of five detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who admit roles in the terror attacks.

    In a meeting with reporters at their attorney's office on Sunday, the families deplored what they called "delays and confusion" in the former Bush administration's effort to prosecute suspects in the 2001 attacks, which killed about 3,000 people, saying they want "a firm commitment" that the same process won't continue under Obama.

    "Seven and a half years is a very long time for 3,000 families to wait," said Maureen Santora, whose son was among the 343 firefighters killed when the twin towers collapsed after being struck by two hijacked jetliners.

    Nearly 2,800 people were killed at the World Trade Center, another 184 when a third hijacked jetliner struck the Pentagon and 40 when a fourth plane crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pa. The totals don't include the 19 hijackers.

    Along with Santora and her husband, Al Santora, a retired deputy fire chief, the delegation included retired deputy chief Jim Riches and his wife, Rita Riches, whose son was killed on Sept. 11, and Sally Regenhard, whose son also perished at the trade center.

    The families' position was spelled out in a brief letter mailed Sunday to Obama, requesting a meeting "at your earliest convenience."

    There was no immediate comment from the White House on Sunday.

    Obama, in his first week in office, ordered the Guantanamo Bay prison closed within a year, CIA secret prisons shuttered and abusive interrogations ended.

    The families' attorney, Norman Siegel, former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, noted that Obama, along with announcing his intention to close the prison in eastern Cuba, declared a 120-day cooling-off period to study how to proceed with trials of those suspected of taking part in terrorist acts against the United States.

    Siegel said the administration of former President George W. Bush had "screwed up every possible option" for swift and effective prosecution of the Sept. 11 terrorists in part by creating a Military Commission to try the suspects that subsequently was ruled unconstitutional in some respects by the U.S. Supreme Court.

    The options bypassed by the Bush White House, Siegel said, included defining the suspects as prisoners of war, which would make them subject to the Geneva treaties; submitting the cases to an international court of justice; and trying them in New York federal court, which has extensive experience with previous terrorism cases including the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.

    "So now Obama's people, who I have confidence in, should look at this stuff, make some hard decisions and move judiciously," he said. "These people (the victims' families) should be involved in this. It's a good test of the Obama rhetoric of listening to the people."

    From a legal standpoint, the families _ some 50 in all, according to those present on Sunday _ have "standing and moral credibility" to be part of the proceedings, Siegel said.

    "These 9/11 families can't understand why it has taken so long in cases where ample evidence exists," he said.

    He added that "the $64 million question" was why the five detainees who have openly acknowledged their part in terrorist acts in court were not simply ruled guilty and sentenced.

    In the statement outlining their concerns and in separate comments, the family members told of sitting through the trial in Guantanamo and another trial in which so-called "20th hijacker" Zacarias Moussaoui was convicted, appalled by the defendants' boasts of having taken part in the attacks.

    "They showed absolute disdain for the system," Al Santora said.

    Jim Riches told of "seeing these murderers stand up in court, disrupt the court and say they were proud of what they did."

    "I wanted to go through the glass and grab these guys," he said.

    Riches also quoted prosecutors at Guantanamo as saying they had "mountains of evidence" collected by methods that were untainted by allegations of torture or other factors and thus would not be an obstacle to further prosecutions.

    Siegel said American law "does not allow people to sit in jail indefinitely," and he did not understand "why, if they have independent evidence, they didn't use it."

    In their statement, which accompanied the letter to Obama, the families stressed that their interest was in legal proceedings, before the Military Commission or in federal courts, that were "forthcoming, open and fair."

    "Our hope is that a change of policy on the Guantanamo detainees can bring about the eventual prosecution and conviction of those responsible for the horrific and despicable acts of terrorism endured by innocent victims," it said.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  8. #168
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    Jan 2005
    Judge refuses to suspend Guantanamo trial


    A military judge at Guantanamo Bay Thursday rejected President Barack Obama's request to suspend the trial of a Saudi accused in the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, the Pentagon said.

    "Judge James Pohl denied the motion" put forward by the prosecution at the request of Obama to suspend the trial for 120 days, said Defense Department spokesman J.D. Gordon, confirming a report by The Washington Post.

    The October 2000 attack on the Cole left 17 people dead and injured many more.

    In his first full day in office last week, Obama ordered the closure of the controversial detention center within a year and for a review of the cases of each of the "war on terror" suspects still held there.

    But no decision has yet been made on what to do with the estimated 245 detainees still held at Guantanamo, most of them without charge.

    Saudi defendant Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, 43, was due to say whether he pleads guilty or not at a hearing set for February 9.

    Born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, he allegedly conspired to help two Islamic extremists who steered an explosives-laden barge alongside the Cole, which was docked at the time in the port of Aden, Yemen.

    He was arrested in 2002, and held in a secret CIA prison before being transfered to the US military base at Guantanamo Bay, southern Cuba.

    Following Judge Pohl's decision, the new administration will now have to decide whether to withdraw the charges against Nashiri or not.

    Shortly after Obama was sworn in as president, the US government requested delays in several cases close to a ruling so the Justice Department could conduct a review.

    And federal judges in the US District Court in Washington are currently presiding over some 240 cases pertaining to Guantanamo detainees challenging their detention, and arguing they have the right to know the charges and evidence against them.

    In June, the Supreme Court granted these so-called "habeas corpus" rights to the detainees held at the military jail in Guantanamo Bay, southern Cuba.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  9. #169
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    Jan 2005
    President Obama Likely to Order Military Commission Charges Dropped Against Terrorist Suspect Al-Nashiri Friday

    February 05, 2009 5:46 PM

    ABC News has learned that on Friday, President Obama will likely order the Department of Defense's Military Commission to withdraw charges against terrorist suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. The charges may later be reinstated in a military commission or pursued in a civilian court. Al-Nashiri will remain in custody.

    The announcement will not be made until after President Obama meets with the families of victims of terrorist attacks on 9/11 and on the U.S.S. Cole, where he will assure them that this step is not being done to be lenient towards al-Nashiri. The move is being done to stop the continued prosecution of al-Nashiri in a court system that his administration may ultimately find illegitimate, not for any other reason, sources told ABC News.

    President Obama has expressed concern about whether the military commissions set up by the Bush administration are the proper way to go forward in pursuing charges against the U.S. detainees, and on January 22 he asked all the judges supervising the trials of detainees for a continuance of 120 days, so a team of administration officials could review the best way forward.

    In almost the cases, that continuance request was granted. But last week the judge supervising the al-Nashiri trial -- Army Col. James L. Pohl, the chief judge at the Guantanamo Bay war crimes court -- said he would not heed President Obama's request for a 120-day continuance, or delay, in prosecutions of terrorism suspects. Pohl called the president's request "not reasonable" and not "in the interests of justice."

    The arraignment of al-Nashiri is scheduled for Monday, February 9.

    Al-Nashiri has been identified as the former Persian Gulf Operations Chief for al Qaeda and the mastermind of the attack on the U.S.S. Cole. In March 2007 he testified in military court that he only confessed to certain crimes because he has been tortured for the previous five years.

    Asked for reaction to the news, Commander Kirk Lippold (Ret.), former Commander aboard the U.S.S. Cole when it was bombed on October 12, 2000, told ABC News that "I am concerned about the President considering dropping the charges because it may be indicative that the president does not intend to follow the military commissions process which has undergone extensive legal and legislative review."

    "For some reason the administration says what's been expressed through the legislature is not sufficient," Lippold said of the military commissions. "They need to allow the process to go forward."

    The 26-year Navy veteran said he found the decision to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay "disappointing," but he seemed willing to hear the president out.

    "I'm interested in hearing what his long-term plan is on how he's going to deal with the detainees because he hasn't articulated that," he said. "He may have a clear-cut path that may massage some of the concerns that I know many of the families have right now."

    In a way, the President tied his administration's own hands, requiring his Secretary of Defense to drop the charges. The executive order President Obama signed on closing the Guantanamo Detention Facilities states that "all proceedings" in the US Military Commissions must be "halted":

    "The Secretary of Defense shall immediately take steps sufficient to ensure that during the pendency of the Review described in section 4 of this order, no charges are sworn, or referred to a military commission under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and the Rules for Military Commissions, and that all proceedings of such military commissions to which charges have been referred but in which no judgment has been rendered, and all proceedings pending in the United States Court of Military Commission Review, are halted."

    It is possible that the President will allow the arraignment to continue, but to do so would be an apparent violation of his own executive order. As of Thursday evening the final decision has not yet been made.

    Lippold, a Senior Military Fellow with Military Families United, served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff and crafted detainee policy in the initial stages of what the Pentagon called the Global War on Terror. He was invited to meet with the President along with the other families tomorrow.

    "I'm looking forward to hearing what the president has to say tomorrow when he meets with the families of the U.S.S. Cole," Lippold said.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  10. #170
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    Jan 2005
    ACLU: Obama’s revival of tribunals strikes blow to rule of law


    Human rights groups reacted with anger and disappointment Friday to President Barack Obama’s revival of special military trials of terror suspects, saying the system was flawed beyond repair.

    In announcing the return of the military commission system devised by former president George W. Bush, Obama also proposed reforms that he said would restore them “as a legitimate forum for prosecution, while bringing them in line with the rule of law.”

    But human rights organizations almost in unison called it a bad idea, insisting that even with changes the special military tribunals would provide substandard justice and meet with delays and legal challenges.

    “The military commissions system is flawed beyond repair,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “By resurrecting this failed Bush administration idea, President Obama is backtracking dangerously on his reform agenda.”

    The American Civil Liberties Union called it “a striking blow to due process and the rule of law.”

    “Tweaking the rules of these failed tribunals so that they provide ‘more due process’ is absurd,” said ACLU executive director Anthony Romero. “There is no such thing as ‘-due process light.’”

    “In this case, President Obama would do well to remember his own infamous words during his presidential campaign: you can’t put lipstick on a pig,” he said.

    Under the changes proposed by Obama, the use of evidence obtained through “cruel, inhumane and degrading” interrogation methods would no longer be admitted as evidence.

    Hearsay would be allowed but the party offering it must now prove its reliability, rather than the party that objected to it.

    The accused also would also have greater latitude in choosing a defense attorney and would enjoy greater protections if they refused to testify.

    “Although the proposed changes to the commissions would be improvements, they do not address fundamental concerns about the flawed nature of such tribunals,” Human Rights Watch said.

    “The very purpose of the commissions was to permit trials that lacked the full due process protections available to defendants in federal courts,” it said.

    The Center for Constitutional Rights, a civil rights group active in defending detainees at Guantanamo, said the commissions’ revival was “an alarming development for those who expected that the Obama administration would end Bush administration’s dangerous experiments with our legal system.”

    “There is no reason to revive them now on the hope that piecemeal changes could create a legal system at Guantanamo equal to the US criminal justice or courts martial systems,” he said.

    Virginia Sloan, president of the Constitution Project, a think tank, said US courts historically had proven their ability to handle the most difficult and sensitive cases.

    “President Obama should have demonstrated a return to the rule of law by ending the tainted military commission proceedings,” she said.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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