Initial Thoughts, and a Twist

It’s a great honor and privilege to be part of the MCOP team both as an Advisory Council Member and a participant in Commission observations. The thing about once-in-a-lifetime opportunities–they only come once! Having done work in the fair trial section of human rights and international humanitarian law both locally and abroad, this opportunity is very fitting for my professional and academic interests. What’s more: the other individuals involved in the project are equally or more knowledgeable in the field and have great backgrounds to compliment the mission.

Leading up to my hoped arrival for the Al-Nashiri trial on Friday, May 30, 2014, I was wrestling with the Military Commission Act of 2009 and the wealth of other sources relating to the facts of the USS Cole bombing and the procedure of the Military Commissions. This was well buttressed by the briefing with Richard Kammen, Indiana attorney and Capital Defense specialist counsel for the Defendant. I was quite curious to see how everything would play out, and the extent to which the trials may have been for “show” as many critics have alleged.

Well, the Friday, and the Thursday, hearings were canceled because Judge Pohl concluded seven motions yesterday. This means that the observation I was scheduled for is no more. Others who were already there looking to observe Wednesday through Friday were/are similarly inconvenienced, as well as one MCOP participant who was en route to observe Thursday/Friday. We can imagine many other individuals–journalists, lawyers, other NGO representatives, being inconvenienced by what we might speculate as a “rushing” through of the docket. This is a display of the uncertainty of the Commission, the application of the Commission’s procedural law, and how the pace is heavily set by the presiding judge. Personally, I am having trouble deciding what my reaction to this is. I want to represent the MCOP in a way that works well with my other obligations, want to play my role, generally, as a human rights advocate by reporting to the world both the pros and cons of the Commission’s procedure, but then again I understand this whole thing is much bigger than me. Ultimately, I can only hope justice was properly served for both the Prosecution and Defendant in this hyper-drive rush through the motions this week. I’m looking forward to what materializes now that this weeks trials have concluded.

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