My upcoming mission to Guantanamo Bay
Late last week I was honored to learn I have been nominated by Indiana’s Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP) and approved by the Office of Military Commissions to travel to Guantanamo Bay to observe the November 17-21 pretrial hearings in the case against Hadi al Iraqi. I had the good fortune to travel to Fort Meade in April of this year to observe via secure video link a set of hearings in the case against Khalid Shaikh Mohammad (KSM) and his co-conspirators in the planning and execution of the 9/11 attacks. I am very much looking forward to observing more hearings in person at Guantanamo Bay.
Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual
In preparation for my upcoming trip to GTMO I have begun studying MCOP’s indispensible Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual. The Fair Trial Manual focuses on assisting observers in assessing whether the rights of all stakeholders in the Military Commission proceedings are adequately protected. And while one frequently thinks of the right to a “fair trial” as belonging only to the accused person, I recognize now that this is too narrow an understanding of the concept. As the Fair Trial Manual makes apparent, a somewhat disparate set of individuals and organizations have an interest in the outcome of Military Commission proceedings, and, concomitantly, in their fairness. Just as in traditional criminal trials, the crime victims and their families have an interest in a fair proceeding with a just outcome. A conviction which is later reversed due to a faulty proceeding serves no one, including (and perhaps especially) the victims.
Charges against Hadi al Iraqi
In reviewing the charges against Hadi al Iraqi (which are detailed here) I found it notable that the bulk of the charges involve Hadi’s alleged actions as an al Qaeda commander in hostilities against U.S. and Coalition forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq after the post-9/11 U.S. action in Afghanistan commenced. Unlike the primarily civilian victims of the 9/11 attacks, most of the direct victims of Hadi’s alleged crimes were military personnel. Thus, it seems the victim stakeholders in Hadi’s proceedings differ in character from those in the KSM proceeding. What, if any, impact that has on the nature of the proceedings themselves or the nature of the stakeholders’ rights is a question I don’t know the answer to. Perhaps more research will shed light on the question.