I finally arrived at Andrews Air Force Base for my flight to Guantanamo Bay for the USS Cole Bombing hearings against al Nashiri. It is very chilly this morning (Sunday the 1st), but I’m told that better temperatures await ahead.
Today I learned that what is now Andrews dates back to the Civil War, when the Union used a local country as its headquarters, and that church is still used by the Andrews community today, in 2015.
The base first became operational as Camp Springs on 2 May 1943, and was officially named Andrews Field in 1945. (I guess there was no Air Force during the Civil War, and no need for the word “field” to be part of the base’s name then.) In October 2009, Andrews Air Force Base and the Naval Air Facility in Washington were joined as the Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility Washington (or “Joint Base Andrews”) (Joint Base Andrews History Factsheets).
All the NGOs representatives, except for two who cancelled at the last minute, met at the Andrews’ Gate. With us are representatives from the American Bar Association, Duke University, the National Institute of Military Justice, Pacific Council of International Policy, Georgetown University School of Law, Judicial Watch, Human Rights First and the New York City Bar Association. We all met with our escorts, did introductions and shared interesting facts about ourselves. I am excited to meet all of them individually. One of them, from Human Rights First, is so far very impressed with the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual that we in the Indiana University McKinney School of Law Military Commission Observation Project have been researching and writing. I will be chatting more with him and other on our flight.
I know that one of the sections of the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual deals with rights and interests of NGO Observers. Yes, we NGO representatives have interests too. For example, we have an interest in being able to do what we are sent to do, and that is attend, observe, analyze, critique and disseminate information about the GTMO Military Commissions. I hope that we NGOs on this trip will be permitted resources and access able to accomplish our NGO goals.
We are about to go through security at Andrews. So, I’ll sign off for now.
Next stop, Guantanamo, Bay!
Avril Rua Pitt, Andrews Air Force Base, March 1, 2015