Tag: Military Commissions (page 2)

Salim Hamdan Guantanamo Trial Goes to Jury

The military commissions trial of Salim Hamdan, driver for Osama bin Laden, went to the jury today.

Hamdan never testified in his defense across two weeks of trial testimony. But unlike suspects on U.S. soil... Hamdan had no right to an attorney or right against self-incrimination during 18 months of military and civilian interrogations from Afghanistan to Guantánamo.

In closing arguments:

[T]he Pentagon cast bin Laden's driver as an al Qaeda insider and the defense called him a Sept. 11 scapegoat. "He's an al Qaeda warrior. He has wounded, and the people he has worked with have wounded the world," prosecutor John Murphy told the jury. "You are the conscience of the community."

Countered Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brian Mizer, on behalf of the $200-a-month driver: "We will capture or kill Osama bin Laden some day. You should not punish the general's driver today with the crimes of the general."

By the numbers: There were only 10 media members in attendance on the last day of testimony. It took a Pentagon airlift to get most of them there at all.

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Judge Bars Coerced Statements in Guantanamo Trial

The military commission trial of Osama bin Laden's driver, Salim Hamdan, got underway today.

The Judge barred the prosecution from introducing statements Hamdan made while detained at Bagram AFB in Afghanistan because they were the product of overly coercive techniques.

The judge said the prosecution cannot use a series of interrogations at the Bagram air base and Panshir, Afghanistan, because of the "highly coercive environments and conditions under which they were made."

At Bagram, the judge found Hamdan was kept in isolation 24 hours a day with his hands and feet restrained, and armed soldiers prompted him to talk by kneeing him in the back. His captors at Panshir repeatedly tied him up, put a bag over his head and knocked him the ground.

Other rulings: [More...]

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William Haynes Out as Pentagon Chief Counsel

Via McJoan at Daily Kos, I see that the Pentagon announced today that William J. Haynes, II has resigned as the chief counsel of the Department of Defense.

As we noted last week, Haynes is the guy who told Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo, that the Administration couldn't handle any acquittals in the military commission trials. Haynes was responsible for oversight of the tribunal process.

Haynes was also a Bush judicial nominee for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. He was widely opposed, in no small part for his hand in the Bush Adminsitration's much-criticized military interrogation policies. Democrats refused to confirm him. Here's more on his failed confirmation hearing.

One more: People for the American Way: Keep Haynes Off the Federal Bench. The Pentagon announcement says he's going back to private life. That's a relief.

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Pentagon to Seek Death Penalty for Six at Guantanamo

What do we have here -- show trials just in time for the November elections, to help out the Republican nominee? (hat tip to reader Scribe.)

Military prosecutors will seek the death penalty for six detainees at Guantanamo.

Update: The ACLU says the system is flawed.

Via Sebastian Meyer: The U.S. reasoning for the 6 death penalty cases sought in Guantánamo is based on the Geneva Conventions, the very document the U.S. claims does not apply in this case.

Update: The Center for Constitutional Rights which represents one of the six designated for execution is challenging the validity of military comissions and use of torture evidence in death penalty cases.

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Supreme Court Hears Guantanamo Case

Update: C-Span 3 is stream and playing the audio of the hearing now (11:44 am ET). The AP now has a report, Justices Grill Detainees' Lawyer, on how the arguments went.

The Supreme Court today is hearing oral arguments in the consolidated cases of Boumediene v. Bush and Al Odah v. U.S., 06-1196 regarding the rights of Guantanamo detainees to challenge the legality of their confinement in federal courts.

Lawyers for the foreign detainees contend the courts must step in to rein in the White House and Congress, which changed the law to keep the detainee cases out of U.S. courts after earlier Supreme Court rulings. The most recent legislation, last year's Military Commissions Act, strips federal courts of their ability to hear detainee cases.

Solicitor General Paul Clement, representing the administration, said foreigners captured and held outside the United States "have no constitutional rights to petition our courts for a writ of habeas corpus," a judicial determination of the legality of detention.

The Court may have to determine whether Guantanamo Bay in Cuba is really on U.S. soil. [More...]

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Bush Administration Considers Guantanamo Closure

I'll believe it if it happens, but according to the New York Times, Bush administration officials are discussing providing more legal rights to the Guantanamo detainees it seeks to hold as enemy combatants.

The discussions are described as a step on the road to closing Gitmo. Why the change of heart? The Administration may be fearful the next case the Supreme Court decides will be too generous to the detainees.

The administration has fought for years in court and in Congress against granting the detainees more rights. In the latest instance, the Supreme Court is to consider a case brought by Guantánamo detainees who are seeking to challenge their confinement in habeas corpus suits in federal court.

If the administration loses that case, it could give the detainees even more legal rights and create a precedent limiting the president’s and the military’s power. Lawyers inside and outside of government said a detailed proposal from the administration to give detainees fuller legal protections could convince the justices that they need not resolve the case, Boumediene v. Bush.


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New Challenge to Guantanamo Detention Filed

The Center for Constitutional Rights has filed what it says is a "groundbreaking brief" (available here) on behalf of Guantanamo detainees.

On August 24, 2007, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) attorneys and co-counsel submitted a ground-breaking brief to the Supreme Court in the case that will determine whether detainees at Guantánamo possess the fundamental constitutional rights to due process and habeas corpus.

The brief was filed on behalf of men from the first habeas corpus petitions submitted immediately after the landmark 2004 Supreme Court decision in CCR's case Rasul v. Bush. Al Odah v. United States, as the case is now called, has been consolidated with a related case, Boumediene v. Bush; both challenge the Military Commissions Act (MCA), which attempted to strip away the statutory right to habeas corpus the Supreme Court recognized in 2004 and replace it with a far more limited review process set up by the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA).

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Thousands Gather on Capitol Hill Urging Habeas Reform, Closure of Gitmo

Today is June Action Day (background here) on Capitol Hill. Thousands gathered in support of bills introduced to restore the right to habeas corpus, close Guantanamo and fix the broken military commissions system.

A hearing on the bills begins at 2:00 pm (ET).

From the ACLU (received by e-mail):

Over eighty organizations, led by the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, came together to organize a rally and lobby visits to Congress. In addition to the rally, attendees at the Day of Action to Restore Law & Justice delivered over 250,000 petition signatures to Washington lawmakers, urging them to:

1. Restore habeas corpus and due process.
2. Pass the Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007.
3. End torture and abuse in secret prisons.
4. Stop extraordinary rendition: secretly kidnapping people and sending them to countries that torture.
5. Close the detention center at Guantánamo Bay and give those held currently access to justice.

Christy at Firedoglake provides the phone numbers for you to call. Today is the day to make yourself heard.


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Two Views on Guantanamo: Which Is Yours?

Tomorrow at 2:00 pm ET, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Oversight will hold a hearing on Habeas Corpus and Detentions at Guantanamo Bay.

Morris D. Davis is the chief prosecutor in the Defense Department’s Office of Military Commissions. In the New York Times today, he provides what he believes to be a vigorous defense of the commission procedures.

Let's take a look at his arguments, which in my view, by their omissions, amount to misreprsentations:

Many critics disapprove of the potential admissibility of evidence obtained by coercion and hearsay. Any statement by a person whose freedom is restrained by someone in a position of authority can be viewed as the product of some degree of coercion. Deciding how far is too far is the challenge. I make the final decision on the evidence the prosecution will introduce. The defense may challenge this evidence and the military judge decides whether it is admitted. If it is admitted, both sides can argue how much weight, if any, the evidence deserves. If a conviction results, the accused has the assistance of counsel in four stages of post-trial appellate review. These are clearly robust safeguards.

After arguing in favor of the hearsay standard used at the tribunals, he concludes:


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Supreme Court Won't Hear Detainees' Challenge to Military Commissions

The Supreme Court today refused to hear the cases of Salim Ahmed Hamdan and Omar Khadr, challenging the legality of the military tribunals under which they are to be tried.

Justices David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer would have granted the request to hear the case, the court said in turning it down. It takes four votes, though, to hear a case.

The court's action follows its April 2 decision not to step into related aspects of the legal battle regarding other Guantanamo Bay detainees. The issue there is whether the prisoners may go to federal court to challenge their confinement.

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Guantanamo Juvenile Charged With Murder, Faces Military Tribunal

Omar Khadr was a 15 year old Canadian, captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan. You can read the details here.

The Pentagon today officially charged him with murder.

Khadr is accused of throwing a grenade that killed U.S. Delta soldier Sgt. Christopher Speer during a firefight in Afghanistan July 27, 2002.

He was 15 at the time and was held for three months in Afghanistan before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay, where he remains today. In addition to the charge of murder, Khadr will also stand trial on attempted murder, providing material support for terrorism, conspiracy and spying.

Omar should not be tried by military tribunal. As Human Rights Watch said,


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N.Y. Times to Reid and Pelosi: Do Something About "Guantanamo Follies"

The New York Times in an editorial today calls on Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to take action against the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, both of which limit appeal rights of detainees.

Both violate the Constitution, and the court should strike down the Military Commissions Act of 2006, and the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, which limits avenues for appeal. But Congress approved the military commissions, left in place the combatant status review tribunals and suspended habeas corpus. Mr. Reid and Ms. Pelosi have a moral obligation to lead the way to righting these wrongs.

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ACLU Blogging the Military Commission Proceedings

The ACLU is one of four organizations that have been granted status as human rights observers at the military commission proceedings. Ben Wizner, an ACLU staff attorney will be blogging from Guantanamo here.

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U.S. Builds War Room for Gitmo Trials

The U.S. is beginning preparations for trials of the 14 terror suspects flown from secret prisons abroad to Guantanamo. It has set up a secret war room in a suburb of Virginia.

The Bush administration has set up a secret war room in a Virginia suburb where it is assembling evidence to prosecute high-ranking detainees from Al Qaeda including the man accused of being the mastermind of the September 2001 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, government officials said this week.

What kind of room do the detainees' lawyers get? If you answered "none," I suspect you are correct.

Update: Check out this great editorial in the Washington Post today.

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