Day 1 – Meeting with Gen. Martins, Chief Prosecutor Post 1 of 2 -Charles Dunlap

NGO Meeting with Chief Prosecutor General Martins

On the afternoon we arrived at GTMO for the al Nashiri hearings (Monday, 3 November 2014), the 10 NGOs met with Brigadier General Mark Martins, the Chief GTMO prosecutor. We met from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

We talked with him and his staff about what to expect in the Al-Nashiri hearings and about Military Commissions in general. Here is a summary of some our discussions, with more to come in future posts:

Criticisms of the Military Commissions

A main criticism of the Military Commissions is that many commentators believe that the Article III court system is better positioned to conduct these types of trials. Gen. Martins agreed that in most cases, Article III Courts can do an effective job.  However, he said that in some cases, the Military Commissions were the best forum for several reasons, including the complexity of the cases, rules of evidence in a combat situation, and others (to be discussed in additional posts to come).

One issue that he pushed back on concerned media reports that “hundreds” of “terrorism” cases have been tried in federal courts in the same time that only a few have been tried in Military Commissions. His issue with this statement is that it does not tell the entire picture.  His said that it is not an apples to apples comparison since only 15 of those cases were eligible for a Military Commission to begin with.  In many cases of concurrent jurisdiction, it may be appropriate for the federal courts to handle the cases but Military Commissions are set up for the particularly challenging cases which is why they take a great deal of time.  In addition, since federal legislation prohibits transferring detainees to the mainland, the Military Commissions are the only way forward with some of the cases based on the legislation creating the Military Commissions and providing them  sole jurisdiction.

International Law and the Military Commissions?

Another issue discussed was the international law requirement for Courts to be “Regularly Constituted.”  This presents a challenge since these Military Commissions were only created after 9-11 and while they are legislatively created and not Article II courts created under military / executive branch authority, some issues exist associated with their longevity and if they are in fact “regularly constituted.”  This is one area where having a federal court (Article III) trial would alleviate this concern.

Continuing this post..

I plan to continue this post tomorrow when I have additional time with the Wi Fi.

Today (Tuesday, 4 November) was pretty much devoted to boat tour of the Bay and associated areas.  Tomorrow (Wednesday, 5 November) we will be observing the first day of scheduled pre-trail hearings for Al-Nashiri.

More to come tomorrow….

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