I have greatly exaggerated the number, of course, but the antics in Guantánamo’s war courts keep coming. Hours before I was to start my second journey to Andrews Air Force Base, then on to Gitmo to observe and send back dispatches, this time about the 9/11 case, Military Judge Pohl shut the hearings down. (You’ll recall that the case “features”—if that’s the correct word--Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the admitted mastermind behind the attacks.)
The case already had been stalled for seven months, because the FBI secretly had interrogated members of Ramzi Bin al Shibh’s defense team, causing his attorneys to erupt, since—if their zealous representation of Bin al Shibh had prompted the FBI’s intrusion—they suddenly faced an intractable conflict of interest. Protect their client, or themselves. Then early Monday, February 9, 2015, before the effort finally to resolve the conflict issue could begin, another shocker presented itself. Bin al Shibh protested to Pohl that his new translator was untrustworthy, since he had worked as an interpreter at a secret CIA black site where Bin al Shibh had been imprisoned, interrogated and tortured. Three other defendants agreed with him. That, naturally, set the government and defense lawyers to blaming each other. Now two surpassingly strange issues have to be sorted out before the case may proceed. And I remain at home.
Other “wild and crazy” events have disrupted the military commission cases, but I will name only two. You may recall the discovery of microphones secreted inside fake smoke alarms in the room where lawyer-client conferences were convened. “We didn’t use them,” was the camp warden’s reply. Then what appeared to be hundreds of thousands of defense emails were turned over to the prosecution by Defense Department computer networks, prompting Chief Military Defense Counsel Colonel Karen Mayberry to order all attorneys for Gitmo detainees to stop using the networks to transmit privileged or confidential information, and the presiding judge to postpone further proceedings. “We didn’t read them,” the government responded. Sound familiar? And has anyone ever heard of such goings-on in a civilian federal court?
As some know from my e-book (see below), I have been studying the war tribunals by focusing on another prosecution, that of Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, the alleged planner of the lethal attack on the USS Cole in 2000. Much has happened in his case, and to the defendant himself:
• Nashiri’s capital prosecution also has been stalled again, in this instance because Military Judge Spath dismissed one of the three charges against him, which asserts criminal liability based on the strike by suicide bombers in an explosives-laden launch against the French supertanker MV Limburg. The government filed an immediate appeal to the Court of Military Commission Review (CMCR), hoping to reverse Spath’s dismissal order. Now, that appeal, too, is on hold, for Nashiri filed a constitutional challenge in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to the composition of the CMCR panel assigned to hear the matter.
• At long last, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issued the Executive Summary (ES) for its 6,700 page report on its study of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, revealing details of the torture the agency employed. Though polls taken shortly after disturbingly showed that between 51to 59% nonetheless regard the CIA’s interrogation tactics as justified, see www.charlesrchurch.com/docs/america-in-decline-crc.pdf
, release of the ES has been salutary in one respect. The war courts, which had strictly forbidden even the mention of the word “torture” during open session, have now allowed both Nashiri and his lawyers freely to disclose what happened to the accused at the CIA black sites where he was held over four years. (The same is true for the 9/11 case.) See: justsecurity.org/19615/gag-order-military-commission-defendants-substantially-lifted/
• Poland recently announced that it would pay $262,000 to Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah, who were held and tortured at a CIA black site in that country during 2002-3. By no means is this action voluntary; the announcement came only after the European Court of Human Rights rejected Poland’s appeal of its earlier ruling finding Poland liable for allowing the CIA to imprison the two men, and failing to stop their torture. See: abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/poland-pay-262000-inmates-held-secret-cia-prison-29043016
A detailed description of my e-book on Nashiri’s prosecution (see below), which can be read in about an hour, appears at Amazon’s Kindle Store. Just click here.
The price is $2.99. For those new to Kindle, the app is downloadable for free, so you can read the book on any mobile device or computer. Simple guidance can be found here.
After reading it, you may wish to visit charlesrchurch.com
where I write Posts on significant events as the case progresses. You can add your comments to these new stories at the site’s blog.