Tag: Military Commission Trials

Uighur Brothers at Gitmo Arrive in Switzerland

The sad saga of the Uighur brothers held at Guantanamo has come to an end. They arrived in Switzerland today.

The two Uyghurs were neither charged with any crime nor condemned by the US authorities; today they are free again. They have expressly undertaken to respect the law in force and to learn the language spoken in their place of residence. They are also willing to take up a gainful employment and to provide for their basic needs.

Arkin Mahmud, 45 had been accepted months ago, but refused to leave without his brother Bahtiar, 32, who had become mentally ill while at Gitmo. Props to Switzerland for agreeing to take both. Only five Uighurs remain at Gitmo.

The U.S. sent three detainees to the Republic of Georgia yesterday. It did not provide information about them, but the lawyer for one of them today said two of the three are Libyans.[More...]

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Obama and the Revival of Flawed Military Commissions

The ACLU tells President Obama that reviving the military commissions is like putting lipstick on a pig:

"These military commissions are inherently illegitimate, unconstitutional and incapable of delivering outcomes we can trust. Tweaking the rules of these failed tribunals so that they provide ‘more due process' is absurd; there is no such thing as ‘due process light.' If the administration's proposed rules really bring these proceedings in line with constitutional requirements, there is no reason not to use our tried and true justice system. If they don't, these tribunals have no place in our democracy.


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Obama to Announce Continuation of Military Commissions

Tomorrow, President Barack Obama will announce his decision to continue military commissions trials against Guantanamo detainees.

He will say he's giving the detainees greater rights, including:

  • Restrictions on hearsay evidence that can be used in court against the detainees.
  • A ban on all evidence obtained through cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. This would include statements given from detainees who were subjected to waterboarding.
  • Giving detainees greater leeway in choosing their own military counsel.
  • Protecting detainees who refuse to testify from legal sanctions or other court prejudices.

It's not enough. The commissions are flawed beyond repair. More from the Center for Constitutional Rights.

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Obama Considering Reviving Military Tribunals

I hope reinstating the military tribunals at Guantanamo is an idea the Obama Administration quickly discards, but I'm not optimistic:

The Obama administration is moving toward reviving the military commission system for prosecuting Guantánamo detainees...Officials said the first public moves could come as soon as next week, perhaps in filings to military judges at the United States naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, outlining an administration plan to amend the Bush administration’s system to provide more legal protections for terrorism suspects.

According to the article, Obama may revise and reinstate them for the top terror detainees.

Memo to President Obama: [More...]

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Gitmo Judge Accepts Detainees Filing Despite Obama Cessation Order

President Obama issued an order halting the military commissions trials at Guantanamo. Yet, the judge accepted the latest filing by the five detainees whose trials were halted. The ACLU reports:

In defiance of President Obama’s order halting the Guantánamo military commissions, a military judge accepted a legal pleading filed by the five 9/11 suspects. Judge Col. Stephen R. Henley ordered the immediate public release of the filed document despite the fact that all other legal filings have been kept sealed for months by the military commissions. Remarkably, the judge accepted the pleading from all five 9/11 defendants despite the fact that the competency of two of them has not been determined and their attorneys were not informed.

The New York Times reported on the pleading today. [More...]

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Guantanamo Trial of Salim Hamdan Begins Today

Jury selection in the military commission trial of Guantanamo detainee Salim Hamdan is set to begin Monday morning.

In a nutshell: The Government has charged Hamdan, a driver for Osama bin Laden, mostly with acts that predated 9/11 by years.

The defense says his conduct did not occur "in the context of" an armed conflict, or was not "associated with" an armed conflict.

Hamdan is facing life in prison. Even if acquitted, Bush may decide to hold him indefinitely as an "enemy combatant." As to his jury:

[A]t least five military officers will make up the jury, and a two-thirds vote is required for a guilty verdict. A three-fourths votes is required for sentences that are longer than 10 years.


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Mukasey Says Military Commission Trials Will Proceed

Attorney General Michael Mukasey, speaking in Tokyo today, said the Supreme Court's decision yesterday upholding the rights of detainees to challenge the determination they are enemy combatants will not affect the upcoming Military Commissions Act trials.

[Mukasey] said he was disappointed with the decision because it would lead to "hundreds" of detention cases being referred to federal district court.

"I think it bears emphasis that the court's decision does not concern military commission trials, which will continue to proceed," he said. "Instead it addresses the procedures that the Congress and the president put in place to permit enemy combatants to challenge their detention."

There are several levels of detainees at Gitmo. Most have been held for years without charges. A small group have been charged with crimes, including offenses punishable by death. Their trials are by military commission, the rules of which are, in my view, unconstitutional.[More...]

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