Question of Undue Influence

post theater

Front entrance of the Post Theater at Ft. Meade, Maryland, where Military Commission hearings are fed live from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Today, the court spent a third consecutive day questioning witnesses regarding the female guard issue. Colonel David Eugene Heath, the current overseer of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Defense focused heavily on Col. Heath’s understanding of the Geneva Conventions, as well as his understanding and application of the detainees’ status as prisoners of war.

Luke in front of post theater

Me in front of the Post Theater, just outside the room where Military Commission hearings are aired.

Defense council for one of the defendants also brought up the fact that a complaint had been lodged against the judge for undue influence by military officials. Judge Pohl quickly pointed out that he had refused to even look at the contents of the complaint. Defense council argued that even if there had been no undue influence, there was still an appearance of undue influence, which obliged the prosecution to provide defense council with the contents of that complain. The prosecution responded that “apparent undue influence” is determined through an objective standard of analysis–i.e. whether a reasonable person would deem that there had been apparent undue influence. Since this was not the case, argued the prosecution, the complaint need not be handed over to the defense.

I experienced a kind of Kafkaesque disorientation as I contemplated the microscopic issues being dealt with today when compared with the “Gorgon’s Knot” of a case being sorted out bit by bit at Guantanamo. I was particularly struck by the lack of timeliness evident at the tribunal. International Law grants the accused the right to a “speedy trial”–a name one could hardly give to these hearings with a straight face.

By: Luke Purdy, 11 December 2015, 9/11 Hearings Guantanamo Bay (viewed at Ft. Meade in Maryland)

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