Month: July 2014

Pre-hearing Thoughts on USS Cole Hearings – Fort Meade – Margaret Baumgartner

Selection to attend the hearings for the U.S.S. Cole attacks couldn’t have come at a more fitting time. I just returned from my last in-person visit with my little brother before his deployment. I say little in the fact that he is younger than me, but about twice my size in body mass! He is deploying for Afghanistan with the U.S. Army in a couple of weeks. This will be his second tour of duty in that particular conflict. My other brother has a tour of Afghanistan and a tour of Iraq under his belt (both with the Army as well). I see how these deployments affect my family. My parents have nightmares and are on edge. The worst time was when both were simultaneously deployed to Afghanistan a few years ago. Mom use to have nightmares about my youngest brother’s Black Hawk crashing, him taken prisoner, and she going over to rescue him armed with nothing but a wooden spoon (we tease her about that to this day).

Even though I am a Patent Attorney by trade, I have a great personal interest in matters relating to our country’s military and safety. I also believe in fairness. It is a double edged sword for me, but my legal training has taught me that there are two sides to every story. I believe that those on trial for attacks against our country should be accorded due process and fairness – a chance to be heard. If nothing else, it is because I would want the same for my brothers if they were captured and taken prisoner during their deployments.

I live in the D.C. area, so I have the luxury of not making travel arrangements. I work in-house at a very understanding and flexible company, which allows me to take part in this more freely than most other employers would. I look forward to attending the hearings next week at Fort Meade and to sharing my experience.

GITMO Pre-departure Impression – Qifan Wang – July 28 2014

As the research assistant for MCOP, to participate in the project as an observer has always been my hope. It’s a great honor for me to be nominated for traveling to GITMO observing the al Nashiri hearings (Aug. 3 – Aug. 9). Honestly speaking, when the chance actually comes, a feeling of both excitement and nervousness follows. On one hand, after keeping tracking the proceedings for several months, I’m so eager to get a closer real-time look in the courtroom in GITMO. On the other hand, I’m concerning that in order to be a competent observer, I need to be more familiar with the case, substantively and procedurally.

In fact, there has not been a plenty of time for me to digest the nervousness. As soon as being nominated, I started working on document collecting for the August Hearings. Professor Edwards comes up with the great idea that we could build a library for NGO observers in GITMO, including background introduction, legal instruments, in-depth comments and so on. With a hard copy of our document collection placed in the GITMO NGO facility, all observers may enjoy the convenience to get a quick review of the case or law at issue. I think this would be very helpful and necessary, not only for our participants, but also for those from other institutions. Undoubtedly, a comprehensive reference plays a very important role in an ideal court observation.

As the departure date approaching, the excitement just grows with the tightness of schedule. Four days to go, being both short and long.

Want to Attend Guantanamo Military Commission Hearings?

Guantanamo Bay Guard Detention Center

Affiliates of Indiana University McKinney School of Law are eligible to be considered for possible travel to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to observe and monitor U.S. Military Commission hearings.

The IU McKinney Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP) goes inside the courtroom in Cuba, and serves as eyes and ears to the outside world about these critically important trials. The MCOP offers participants a unique opportunity to contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights of all involved, including the defendants, the victims and their families, the prosecution, the press, and other stakeholders.

MCOP participants fly to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for the hearings, or travel to Ft. Meade, Maryland to witness the hearings via secure, live video-link.

For information about upcoming hearings and eligibility to participate in the MCOP, please click this link.

For stories of MCOP participants who have traveled to Guantanamo Bay & Ft. Meade, please visit

For twitter, please follow @GitmoObserver.