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Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was allowed to address the military commission trial judge today at Guantanamo. When he was done, the judge said it will be the last time the defendants are allowed to comment on the course of proceedings:
Mohammed told the judge, Army Col. James Pohl, that "the government uses national security as it chooses," urging him to keep that in mind as he considers requests from defense lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union to scale back the rules for evidence and testimony.
"Many can kill people under the name of national security, and to torture people under the name of national security," the Arabic-speaking Mohammed said through a translator. "And detain their underage children under the name of national security."
In an apparent reference to Osama bin Laden, Mohammed noted that "the president can take someone and throw them into the sea in the name of national security.
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Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other 9/11 defendants have hearings this week, beginning tomorrow at Guantanamo's court for military commissions -- their first hearings since May.
Reporters who are there tonight say on Twitter the number of reporters seems to have decreased by 50%. Some estimate only 25 reporters are there, and several of them are there for the first time, representing organizations such as Jesuit Weekly and the Bergen Record.
The defense lawyers complained today that the office space they were given is infested with rats, rat feces and mold and making them ill. They filed a Motion called "Mr. Mohammad's Emergency Motion to Delay the October 2012 Hearing due to Defense Offices Being Deemed Unsafe by the US Naval Hospital Guantanamo Bay due to the Presence of Hazardous Mold, Rodents, and Rodent Feces." While (naturally) the motion and responses are sealed, the Court's one sentence order denying the motion is available on the docket (choose the active case for KSM from the dropdown list and then the link for all documents at the bottom or the docket link.) [More...]
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Cleric Abu Hamza, aka Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, aka Abu Hamza al-Masri, made his first court appearance in New York today, following his extradition yesterday from the UK.
Along with Abu Hamza, four other alleged terrorists were flown to the U.S. Two will be tried in Connecticut, and three in New York. The other four are Khaled al-Fawwaz, Babar Ahmad, Adel Abdul Bary and Syed Talha Ahsan.
In exchange for allowing the extradition, the U.K. obtained a promise from the U.S. that all five would be tried in civilian courts and not face the death penalty.
The charges against Abu Hamza include conspiring to set up a training camp in Bly, Oregon. His co-defendant Oussama Kassir, from Sweden, was convicted at trial in 2009 and received life in prison, which he is serving at Supermax in Colorado. Kassir's conviction was upheld on appeal in 2011.[More....]
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Stormy weather resulted in the cancellation of six days of hearings for the 911 defendants at Guantanamo, which scheduled to begin yesterday and first postponed until tomorrow.
he U.S. National Hurricane Center’s tracking map shows Tropical Storm Isaac crossing Haiti as a hurricane on Aug. 24 and striking Cuba before arriving at the Florida coast below Cape Coral on Aug. 27.
The hearings have not yet been rescheduled. 25 pretrial motions were on the agenda, including some by the media.
Defense lawyers, journalists and representatives of non- governmental organizations including Human Rights Watch were on hand to watch the proceedings.
The last hearing was in May. One of the defense lawyers said today trial is unlikely to occur until four years from now, due to the hundreds of motions that will be need to be resolved.
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Here is the New York Times account of today's proceedings at Guantanamo (mobile version with some more details here.) Carol Rosenberg via Twitter has the play by play and an article at the Miami Herald with a full recap.
The Judge did offer to let the defendants plead not guilty, but they deferred. Ramzi Binalshibh wanted to talk about the conditions of confinement at Gitmo, the judge said it wasn't the proper time. Binlashibh yelled out:
“Maybe you are not going to see me again. Maybe they are going to kill us and say that we have committed suicide...The right time is now, not tomorrow." [More...]
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Today, the 5 detainees at Guantanamo charged with the September 11, 2001 attacks were brought to a courtroom at the Expeditionary Legal Complex (ELC),
They are Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin 'Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi.”
They are all in court now. So far, none have uttered a word. While the proceeding is called an arraignment, the defendants are not called upon to enter a plea. The judge reads them their rights, an interpreter who is not physically present interprets one line at a time, and the Court asks if they understand their rights. (The interpreter is in a different building.) So far, none of the defendants have replied to the judge's questoins, which goes on the record as "refused to answer." [More...]
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Adis Medunjanian, a U.S. citizen, was convicted by a New York federal court jury yesterday of plotting to attack the New York subway system with two of his high school classmates, Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay. Zazi and Ahmedzay had pleaded guilty earlier and testified against Medunjanian in exchange for a lesser sentence.
Medunjanian, originally from Bosnia, emigrated here with his family. His mother and sister, a nurse, testified on his behalf at trial.
The plot began after the defendant, Adis Medunjanin, a naturalized citizen born in Bosnia, went to Pakistan with two friends from high school with the intention of fighting American troops in Afghanistan. The two friends testified that they were instead recruited to attend a Qaeda training camp, where they were told they would be far more valuable to their cause by returning to the United States to carry out an act of terrorism.
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Najibullah Zazi testified today in the trial of Adis Medunjanin, his alleged co-plotter in a planned attack on the New York subway system.
In his opening on Monday, defense attorney Robert Gottlieb accused the government of using “inflammatory rhetoric” about al-Qaida and terrorism to prevent jurors “from seeing the truth about this case.” The lawyer conceded his client had sought to support the Taliban’s struggle against U.S. forces in Afghanistan, but denied he ever agreed to kill American civilians for al-Qaida.
“The truth is that Adis Medunjanin is not a terrorist,” he said. “Mr. Medunjanin never planned to bomb the New York City subways.”
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The five detainees charged with participating in the 9/11 attacks will appear in court at Guantanamo within 30 days to schedule proceedings in their trial by military commission. They include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Waleed bin Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi
An arraignment will be held at Guantanamo next month, and all of the pretrial issues that surfaced in the earlier case will have to be litigated again, including the issue of self-representation and the mental health and capacity of Binalshibh and Hawsawi.
All of them were held in secret overseas prisons until 2006 when then President Bush ordered them moved to Guantanamo. All alleged being tortured. The death penalty is being sought for all of them.
The 123 page charge sheet is available at the Military Commission's website here (click on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed et al (2), and then use the arrow to go to "Docket." They will also be tried on the charges returned in January, 2012, available at the same link. [More...]
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As expected, a federal judge in Detroit today sentenced Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, aka the Underwear Bomber and Captain Underpants, to life in prison for his failed attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight en route to Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009. Since the federal system has no parole, a life sentence means exactly that.
“The defendant has never expressed doubt or regret or remorse about his mission... “To the contrary, he sees that mission as divinely inspired and a continuing mission.” [Judge Nancy Edmonds] said she can't control his motives, but she can control his opportunity.
She ordered the life sentences to be served consecutively. As he was led out of the courtroom, he said, "G-d is Great."
In Abdulmutallab's statement to the Court, he ranted against Jews (see below for quotes): [More...]
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The Defense Department has filed charges against Guantanamo detainee Majid Khan. The case will be proceed via military commission, and according to the Miami Herald, is "the first war court case entirely initiated during the administration of President Barack Obama."
Majid Kahn, one of two lawful U.S. residents at Guantanamo, graduated from high school in Baltimore, MD. The Herald reports:
[Kahn] allegedly recorded a martyr’s message and donned an explosive vest in a 2002 attempt to kill Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf at a mosque. The attack failed because Musharraf never arrived. Pakistani authorities arrested Khan the next year and turned him over to the United States.
Kahn was held in secret overseas prisons and interrogated until 2006 when the Bush administration sent him to Guantanamo. His lawyers filed suit alleging he was tortured.
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The Government filed its sentencing statement today in the case of Detroit Underwear Bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
Abudulmutallab is set for sentencing Feb. 16. Some of the counts he pleaded guilty to carry a mandatory life sentence. The Government says a life sentence is also warranted because he remains committed to martyrdom. It attached the report of Dr. Simon Perry, a criminologist and professor from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and former Israeli police officer/official (for 30 years) to support its position. Interestingly, Perry never interviewed Abdulmutallab. He's based his opinion on FBI debriefings he was not present at, Umar's statements to the court at sentencing, interviews with various people and his knowledge of terrorism and martyrs. [More...]
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A motions hearing is underway at Guantanamo in the military commission proceeding against detainee and U.S.S. Cole bombing suspect Abd al Rahim al Nashiri. Here's the agenda. Miami Herald/McClatchy reporter Carol Rosenberg provides this backdrop. She's also at Gitmo tweeting updates. The hearing is being broadcast by closed circuit at Ft. Meade.
The big issue involves the reading of al Nashiri's legal mail. Gitmo Chief Adm. Woods will testify tomorrow about how the prison staff is reviewing legal mail. (Update: He is testifying today.) The defense motion is now available here on the court's website (You have to click on al-Nashiri's active case and then bring up the docket and then scroll down to 12/19 for the motion.) [More...]
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Guantanamo Commander, Navy rear Adm. David Woods, has sent a 27 page memo to defense lawyers representing clients charged in military commission proceedings which includes a provision that attorney-client mail will be submitted to a security review.
The memo asked the lawyers to sign and approve the the memo within 48 hours. Instead, the lawyers filed an objection.
The defense objection, filed December 19, is listed on the Guantanamo docket "Defense Motion to Bar JTF-GTMO from Interfering with the Defendant's Right to Receive Confidential Legal Mail and Access to the Courts". The site says it is undergoing a security review. If deemed publically releasable, it will be made available to the public 15 business days after the document was filed with the court.
The next hearing in al-Nashiri's case is Jan. 12. On Dec. 21, Gitmo sent out this invitation to the press to attend.
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The Military Commission's website last night posted the transcript of yesterday's four hour hearing for al-Nashiri. (Go here, click on second al-Nashiri link, it's the top document. There is no direct link.)
It wasn't just an arraignment. The judge heard argument on and granted the defense motion to prevent Gitmo and prosecutors from reading his legal mail (with some exceptions.) The Court also heard argument on al-Nashiri's motion seeking to have the military jury advised at the start of trial if an acquittal won't result in his release (see my earlier post on this here.) The Court addressed an issue of potential conflict of interest for one of the defense lawyers, Michael Paradis who represented al Bahlul in appealing his conviction by military commission and life sentence. Al-Bahlul is named as a co-conspirator of al-Nashiri's in Charge V. [More...]
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