Ramzi Bin al Shibh Files Suit to Stop Military Commissions Trial

Update: The DC Circuit has ordered the government to respond to the petition and emergency motion for stay of proceedings by this Tuesday, Sept 15, at noon.

Accused 9/11 terror participant Ramzi Bin al Shibh (aka Ramzi Binalshibh), one of the detainees facing a trial by military tribunal at Guantanamo, has filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to stop the proceeding. He is represented by two JAG Corps attorneys in the Military Commissions' Office of the Chief Defense Counsel, CDR Suzanne Lachelier, USNR, and LCDR Richard Federico, USN. The John Adams Project, a collaborative effort of the ACLU and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) has been assisting. According to NACDL,:

The petition for extraordinary relief filed today asks the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to enjoin the prosecution of five high value detainees, consistent with President Barack Obama’s Executive Order of January 22, 2009. Defense attorneys are asking the court to assert jurisdiction over the commissions and compel a stop to all proceedings on the grounds that the commissions are unconstitutional and continue to operate without regard for the rule of law. The attorneys hope to shed light on the lawlessness of the military tribunal and force the Obama administration to formally charge the defendants in federal court.


The presiding judge of the military proceeding, Col. Stephen R. Henley, has set a hearing for Sept. 21, refusing to dismiss the cases notwithstanding President Obama's Jan. 22 order directing the immediate cessation of all military tribunal proceedings.

The Executive Order was designed to allow time for Congress to overhaul the commissions and a presidential task force to determine whether detainees should be prosecuted in federal court. The military judge has ordered a competency hearing for Bin al Shibh Sept. 21, despite the government’s refusal to turn over relevant evidence to his defense lawyers and provide them access to crucial witnesses.

In seeking the court's intervention,

... defense attorneys point to the systemic denial of even the most rudimentary resources necessary to provide an adequate defense and the official lawlessness that has infected the commissions from beginning to end.

....“This petition seeks to prevent the prosecution from engaging in further ‘beat-the-clock’ tactics designed to impair the defense and secure death sentences before the Obama administration has an opportunity to transfer these cases to federal court,” explained Michael Price, NACDL’s National Security Coordinator.

You can read the petition here and the motion to stay proceedings here. They don't mince words:

The situation facing Petitioner is indeed extraordinary, however. Not only is the MCA unconstitutional on its face, but the proceedings themselves have been “irregular” in every sense. In fact they have been a travesty of justice, a
“system” -- in the military judge’s own words -- “in which uncertainty is the norm and where the rules appear random and indiscriminate.” Military Judge Ruling D-126, at 3.

The reason for this state of affairs, moreover, is clear: These cases were never intended to do justice. Instead, what the government has sought, and to date received, is not a legitimate judicial proceeding but a political show trial.

I've been writing about Ramzi Bin al Shibh since his capture in September, 2002. The Government changed its theory of his role over time. He was flown to a secret prison overseas and interrogated. He and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed gave statements about Zacarias Moussaoui that didn't match up. A summary of the connections between Binalshibh, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Zacarias Moussaoui is here. All of our coverage of Ramzi Bin al Shibh is accessible here.

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    Ramzi bin al Shibh mandamus petition (none / 0) (#1)
    by Adam Thurschwell on Sat Sep 12, 2009 at 12:36:28 AM EST
    Gerry, a correction and an update:  Ramzi bin al Shibh is not represented by the John Adams Project; he is represented by two JAG Corps attorneys in the Military Commissions' Office of the Chief Defense Counsel, CDR Suzanne Lachelier, USNR, and LCDR Richard Federico, USN.  The brief was written by them with the help of others in the Defense Office (including yours truly) and a couple John Adams Project lawyers.  The John Adams Project is a good group of lawyers who have been crucial in helping the military lawyers represent the accused detainees, but sometimes gets a little ahead of itself, publicity-wise . . . .

    The update is that the DC Circuit ordered the government to respond to the petition and emergency motion for stay of proceedings by this Tuesday, Sept 15, at noon.  So we will see what happens.  


    Thanks, Adam (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Sep 12, 2009 at 01:21:20 PM EST
    I made the correction. Great to hear from you and I'm glad to know you are working on these cases. For those of you who don't know Adam (whom I got to know during the McVeigh/Nichols trials):

    Adam Thurschwell is a civilian attorney in the Military Commissions Defense Office of the Department of Defense. Most recently, he was a Visiting Professor of Law at American University - Washington College of Law from 2006-2008 and an Associate Professor of Law at Cleveland State University - Cleveland-Marshall College of Law from 1998-2008. He also served as a member of the court-appointed defense team for Terry Nichols in the federal Oklahoma City bombing case, and has represented clients and consulted for the defense in many other federal and state capital cases.

    Ramzi B (none / 0) (#3)
    by tjryan on Sun Jan 03, 2010 at 07:30:42 PM EST
    I am not familiar with this commissions trial but have tried to find info regarding this man. They say he was denied Visa and could not participate in 911 but I worked with him on a construction project with him 9 to 14 mo. earlier in S.E.Massachusetts we worked for a flooring Co. from Buffalo N.Y. I saw him in a Time mag. article a few years later and was shocked but not surprised based on his manner and garb.