Chaotic Court Proceedings at Guantanamo

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...]

Nor would the judge address the restrictions on attorney-client communications and mail:

Throughout the hearing, for example, defense lawyers for the detainees repeatedly raised complaints about restrictions placed on their ability to communicate, including problems with translators and a prison policy of looking through mail about the case. Judge Pohl told them again and again not to raise an issue he had already said would be addressed later.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammad's lawyer complained the defendants were strip-searched before coming to court.

When the defendants took off their headphones needed to hear the translators, the judge ordered the translators to broadcast their translations over the courtroom loudspeaker. From the mobile version of the New York Times account:

[T]he judge ordered translators to repeat each phrase in Arabic over the courtroom loudspeaker, further disrupting the hearing because speakers had to pause after each phrase, breaking up their thoughts and interactions, and because translators sometimes spoke over others.

Mr. Nevin objected that he could not effectively represent his client if forced to talk "like a robot," and Cheryl Bormann, a lawyer for Mr. Bin Attash, remarked at one point that "the subsequent translation is making me crazy." But the judge said he saw no alternative.

One defendant, Walid bin Attash, was wheeled into court in a restraint chair because he had refused to come to court. Attash only has one leg, and his prosthetic leg was attached in court.

A guard put Mr. Attash’s glasses on his face and attached his prosthetic leg. Colonel Pohl said he would have the restraints taken off if Mr. Attash would pledge not to disrupt the court, but Mr. Attash refused to answer him. Eventually, the restraints were removed after the judge accepted a promise relayed through Mr. Attash’s lawyer.

Bin Attash's lawyer said he has scars on his arms from JTF Gitmo. Attash started taking off his shirt to show the scars, and the Judge shouted "No."

Today's hearing is not over. The judge asked if the defendants wanted the charges read to them. Bin Attash did, so the court will reconvene at 7:45 pm tonight ET to read the 123 page document. It includes the names of all 2,796 victims who died in the 9/11 attacks. You can read the charges here or at the Military Commission's website by clicking on the case KSM-2 Active and then docket.

It looks like the next hearing is June 12 and trial won't be until May, 2013, at the earliest.

I think the Obama Administration dragged its feet so long on deciding where these defendants should be tried that too many people are satisfied that any trial proceeding is finally moving forward. Few appear to be concerned about whether the trial process is a fair one.

Those of us who oppose these military commission trials and believe them to be a mere show trial, realize we have lost this battle. We've gone from hope that Obama would keep his promise to close Gitmo on his first day of office, to outrage he caved into Republicans after first doing the right thing and bringing charges in federal court. There's no point in threatening Obama with a pink slip when the alternative would be Mitt Romney.

The best we can do now is make sure the rest of the world stays informed of the unfair process and how it violates our own fundamental constitutional principles. Our government needs to know the whole world is watching and will hold it accountable. To do that, we need to read and write about the accounts of the dedicated mainstream media reporters who are covering the proceedings live, so it remains profitable for their news organizations to continue funding their travel to Gitmo. If that funding dries up, so does our ability to get any fair account of the trials. All we will have is the Government's self-serving version, and that of the victims' survivors in attendance whose views are apt to be similar to one today who told the New York Times, the defendants "are engaging in jihad in the courtroom."

Let the New York Times, McClatchy and other mainstream media organizations who have sent reporters to Gitmo know you appreciate the coverage. If you don't want to take the time to send them an e-mail, at least click on their articles so you send them traffic.

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  • Display: Sort:
    I go the other way. Fast. (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by lentinel on Sun May 06, 2012 at 03:53:09 PM EST
    There's no point in threatening Obama with a pink slip when the alternative would be Mitt Romney.

    Of course there is a point in threatening an incumbent who does not represent us with the prospect of our not voting for him.

    What other power do we have?

    As long as Obama knows he can do whatever he likes as long as the specter of fear is raised, he will do just that: Anything he likes. Rendition, Gitmo, war, eavesdropping, detention without charge or trial, protection of the war criminals of the previous administration... The lot. You name it.

    Almost nobody cares if these are fair trials (none / 0) (#1)
    by Dadler on Sat May 05, 2012 at 08:35:30 PM EST
    Most people are happy to have them dead soon.  Most people would be happy to execute them without a trial.  That's just the disturbing reality.  I don't think the Obama Administration cares much about the quality of these trials either.  Hat tip to you as always, J, for doing the unpopular.  

    This nation, in short, is far less evolved than it believes itself to be.  Hell, we can't even get ourselves to behave as if people matter more than money.

    It has gotten to the point where it feels like (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by ruffian on Sun May 06, 2012 at 03:39:02 PM EST
     keeping up appearances for the neighbors when most of the family doesn't really care that the house is a wreck. And even at that we let our lazy brother convince us to just slap on a layer of paint and be done with it.

    I was at least glad to see Eric Holder say last weekend that he still thinks this was the wrong decision - he remains convinced that trials in US courts would have worked fine. I guess I was just glad to hear someone still saying that, thin comfort though it is.


    Still supporting the anti-democratic Obama regime (none / 0) (#2)
    by Andreas on Sun May 06, 2012 at 02:52:14 AM EST
    I notice that Jeralyn is still supporting the despotic regime headed by Barack Obama.

    The real decision is not between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party - both are representing the 1%.

    It is necessary for the working class to build its own mass party against the existing two party regime and expecially against those "leftists" who support imperialist parties.

    Huh? (none / 0) (#3)
    by oldmancoyote22 on Sun May 06, 2012 at 10:36:13 AM EST
    I do not understand how you "noticed" Jeralyn supporting Obama here since she's not expressing support of anything but fair trials at this point.  And the last two paragraphs are so far outside the topic here, methinks you need your own blog.  

    Supporting Obama (none / 0) (#4)
    by Andreas on Sun May 06, 2012 at 12:02:36 PM EST
    This statement can only be understood as a declaration of support for Barack Obama:

    There's no point in threatening Obama with a pink slip when the alternative would be Mitt Romney.

    In November one of those two men will be elected (none / 0) (#8)
    by ruffian on Sun May 06, 2012 at 03:31:19 PM EST
    She would rather it be Obama.

    These are not possible / likely civilian criminals (none / 0) (#5)
    by Doug1111 on Sun May 06, 2012 at 12:43:53 PM EST
    Congress passed in 2001 and the President signed into a declaration of war against the Islamist Jihadi group(s) responsible for 9/11 (which turned out beyond a shadow of a doubt to be Al Qaeda), and any similar jihadi groups allied to them or who have similar goals to commit terrorist war against the United States.

    They are illegal enemy combatants, or at least that is what they are suspected of being. They have acted like they were that in military prison.  They sure as hell didn't fight more or less according to the Geneva conventions, or those parts of which the US has signed onto.

    It's entirely appropriate that they be tried in military court.

    As for Republicans pressuring Obama not to hold trials in their cities or detain them in their cities so have democrats.  Democrats control Illinois and Illinois wasn't having it.  Bloomberg is really an independent and he wasn't having it and would commit police resources to protecting a federal trial in Manhattan.  By far most New Yorkers didn't want trials of 9/11 terrorists in their city and NY is overwhelming Democrat for anything other than electing a mayor (a job the Democrats have a deep and long record of messing up badly, whereas it's be the opposite with liberal republicans.  I speak as a NY independent.

    They are being tried for the 9/11 attacks, (none / 0) (#10)
    by ruffian on Sun May 06, 2012 at 03:49:49 PM EST
    which by definition came before the declaration of war against the perpetrators of those attacks.

    Maybe a declaration of war would have been in order when Bush got a brief titled 'BinLaden determined to strike in United States'

    I agree that Dems and I dependents have been equally cowardly in upholding our civilian justice system.


    Their taking down the twin towers (none / 0) (#15)
    by Doug1111 on Mon May 07, 2012 at 12:09:49 PM EST
    and flying a large jet plane into the Pentagon were acts of war.  Our declaration of war on them was rather like our declaration of war after Pearl Harbor was attacked.

    They are or are alleged to be enemy illegal combatants, and it's perfectly appropriate to try them before an American military tribunal/court.


    Doug1111 (none / 0) (#12)
    by Jeralyn on Sun May 06, 2012 at 03:56:09 PM EST
    You are limited to four comments a day on this topic. See our comment rules on chattering when your views oppose those of this site. And please stop bringing Zimmerman into discussions of clearly unrelated topics like this one.

    The ones disrupting (none / 0) (#6)
    by Doug1111 on Sun May 06, 2012 at 12:48:31 PM EST
    these trials are the defendants, who don't even plead not guilty.

    They're the ones trying to make these political show trials for their cause it seems to me.  

    Oh and if I were the judge I would have had the defendant who kept taking his translation headphones off, rather than disrupting the proceedings and severely affecting their rhythm by playing Arabic over a courtroom loudspeaker.  

    A civilian court would be better? (none / 0) (#13)
    by diogenes on Sun May 06, 2012 at 06:49:18 PM EST
    And I suppose these defendants would have been perfect gentlemen in a civilian courtroom in Manhattan?

    And??? (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by Yman on Sun May 06, 2012 at 09:36:43 PM EST
    We decide matters of justice/due process by whether the defendant exhibits exemplary manners in court?  

    Sort of like deciding whether someone should spend life in jail for a crime they didn't commit, depending on whether they were a "Sunday school teacher" before being wrongly convicted ...


    There's no good reason (none / 0) (#16)
    by Doug1111 on Mon May 07, 2012 at 12:13:48 PM EST
    to try these (alleged) terrorists in civilian federal court. It's much less expensive and a lot more convenient. It's far easier to control the release of classified information.

    The main reason trying them in military court was even an issue was all the baying from Europeans.


    No "good reason"? (none / 0) (#18)
    by Yman on Mon May 07, 2012 at 04:05:24 PM EST
    You mean like - substantive and procedural due process, the right of the defendant to see all of the evidence being used against them, open/public proceedings, the guarantee of release if you're acquitted of all charges, being able to convict someone with only 2/3 of the jury, etc., etc.

    Yeah ... no "good reasons".


    They are not alleged to merely (none / 0) (#20)
    by Doug1111 on Wed May 09, 2012 at 09:06:00 AM EST
    be civilian criminals, but rather enemy combatants who have committed massively illegal acts in pursuit of their terrorist jihadi war against the United States.

    They aren't owed a federal civilian trial and shouldn't get one, and the vast majority of Americans feel the same way.


    That's great (none / 0) (#29)
    by Yman on Wed May 09, 2012 at 12:32:46 PM EST
    They aren't owed a federal civilian trial and shouldn't get one, and the vast majority of Americans feel the same way.

    Except for the fact that matters of justice and the Constitution aren't decided by public opinion polls.


    They shouldn't be released if acquited... (none / 0) (#25)
    by Doug1111 on Wed May 09, 2012 at 10:02:51 AM EST
    unless the government can't show that they were enemy combatants.  The war against al Qaeda and allied jihadi groups continues. Even if the government can't show they engaged in illegal acts of war against the United States, engaging in any acts of war against us, or try to, makes them enemy combatants we can hold for the duration of the war.



    "For the duration of the 'war'" ... (none / 0) (#27)
    by Yman on Wed May 09, 2012 at 12:22:47 PM EST
    ... or until they die, ...

    ... whichever is longer.



    Many (none / 0) (#26)
    by Doug1111 on Wed May 09, 2012 at 10:03:52 AM EST
    of those we've released from Gitmo have rejointed the ranks of Al Qaeda or allied Jihadi grounps.

    Really? (none / 0) (#28)
    by Yman on Wed May 09, 2012 at 12:30:36 PM EST
    Many of those we've released from Gitmo have rejointed the ranks of Al Qaeda or allied Jihadi grounps.

    How many, exactly?  

    More debunked, winger myths ...


    Were you opposed to (none / 0) (#17)
    by Doug1111 on Mon May 07, 2012 at 12:15:35 PM EST
    our Navy Seals taking out Bin Laden on direct orders from Obama?

    Or our drones killing many top and middle level al Quaeda operatives in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen?


    No, to the first (none / 0) (#19)
    by Yman on Mon May 07, 2012 at 04:17:32 PM EST
    Yes, except under very limited circumstances to the second.

    Are you trying to suggest that it's inconsistent to support the killing of Bin Laden/use of drones and also support trials in civilian courts for terrorism suspects?

    "Cause, if so, that's funny ...


    NO, (none / 0) (#23)
    by Doug1111 on Wed May 09, 2012 at 09:14:31 AM EST
    I'm not saying it's impossible for the two to be consistent, but I do think that most who opposed military trials for enemy combatant terrorists seized abroad are usually against both yes.

    The commonality is that they tend to think that all illegal acts of war against the US should be dealt with the same way as illegal civilian acts, and hence that terrorist leaders and mid level personnel and even bin Laden should all get federal civilian trials.

    Myself, I think we should kill as many active jihadi terrorists as we can, by drones or any other means that don't kill more civilians than we have to - as in other acts of war.  


    Why do the circumstances (none / 0) (#24)
    by Doug1111 on Wed May 09, 2012 at 09:16:55 AM EST
    have to be very limited as to our killing of al Qaeda terrorist leaders and mid  level operatives by drones or other military methods?

    We didn't require very limited circumstances when killing German enemy combatants in WWII, and in fact were will to risk and in many cases know we'd kill a hell of a lot of German civilians in the process.


    Because we end up ... (none / 0) (#30)
    by Yman on Wed May 09, 2012 at 12:43:01 PM EST
    ... killing a lot of civilians, alienating allies/potential allies, and hurting our own interests in the process.  Not to mention the fact that we were at war with Germany - and we're not at war with Afghanistan, Pakistan or Yemen.

    Now if a foreign country were operating drones in the US and killing US citizens, would you still approve?


    Totallly wrong (none / 0) (#31)
    by Doug1111 on Wed May 09, 2012 at 09:26:01 PM EST
    We are at war with jihadi terrorist groups targeting Americans within those countries.

    Period, end of story,]

    You're completely.


    Yeah (none / 0) (#32)
    by Doug1111 on Wed May 09, 2012 at 09:28:38 PM EST
    I'd declare war against them unless I could reach a diplomatic solution, and would be decimated by the US.

    Knowing that as the likely outlook, maybe not.


    Stupid cripoled or empowered leftist.\ (none / 0) (#33)
    by Doug1111 on Wed May 09, 2012 at 09:34:08 PM EST
    Very little of what you propose us true.

    Not only mass diversity but also over current repetition is our weakness, not our strength.


    I'd respond ... (none / 0) (#35)
    by Yman on Thu May 10, 2012 at 11:02:12 AM EST
    .... if I knew what the he// you were trying to say.

    We're at war (none / 0) (#34)
    by Doug1111 on Wed May 09, 2012 at 09:37:43 PM EST
    I don't give a fu*k what they like.

    Yeah, ... (none / 0) (#36)
    by Yman on Thu May 10, 2012 at 11:02:37 AM EST
    ... that's what I thought.

    No. (none / 0) (#37)
    by Doug1111 on Thu May 10, 2012 at 02:39:41 PM EST
    But if they could show my government that those US citizens they were terrorist attack their non terrorist civilians, I'd want my government to round them up and hand them over to them.

    Khalid Shaikh Mohammad (none / 0) (#21)
    by Doug1111 on Wed May 09, 2012 at 09:08:41 AM EST
    is the actual mastermind of 9/11, who thought up the plan and brought it fully fleshed out to any initially skeptical bin Laden, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt.  He's also confessed same multiple times including when he wasn't being water boarded or facing other hard interrogation techniques.


    *to an ... (none / 0) (#22)
    by Doug1111 on Wed May 09, 2012 at 09:09:10 AM EST