“There has been a change in the flight schedule, and you will all now be flying down on island on Monday at 10:00.”
I received this message from the Pentagon when I was at the Atlanta Airport yesterday (Friday), on the way from Indianapolis to Andrews Air Force Base near Washington DC.
I am an observer from Indiana University McKinney School of Law’s Program in International Human Rights Law, confirmed to attend and monitor hearings at Guantanamo Bay from 11 to 14 October, 2016 (please read my previous posts here). The hearings are in the case against Khalid Shaik Mohammad and 4 other defendants who allegedly masterminded the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The flight to Guantanamo was originally scheduled to depart from DC on Saturday, October 8, and I was supposed to be at the Joint Base Andrews Terminal at 5:30 am.
We were informed, “the number of passengers for tomorrow’s flight exceeded the number of seats available on the aircraft (primarily due to additional personnel that needed to fly down to assess the infrastructure post-storm).”
My role as NGO Observer in the 9/11 case
I would have to spend 3 nights in DC before flying to Cuba, and the other 11 NGOs and I would miss almost 3 days of observation. This delay undermines part of my job as a monitor, since the whole purpose of this mission in not solely to watch the hearings. For instance, we will be missing a gathering on Sunday we were invited to by one of the defense teams, miss opportunities to meet with other defense counsel and media, miss possibly meeting the prosecution, and miss other valuable interactions. As observers, our responsibilities include to attend, observe, analyze, critique and report on the Military Commissions. The observer’s job begins at the moment of the confirmation to attend the hearings, and includes paying attention to communications with the Pentagon, defense counsel, and other NGOs, and otherwise observing and interacting with other stakeholders.
I just learned on Twitter that there may have been issues about the media and their equipment on the plane this morning (Saturday). I will monitor and report about it later. See @GitmoWatch, @carolrosenberg and @GitmoObserver.
Aline Fagundes (LL.M. Candidate, ’17)
NGO Monitor, U.S. Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP)
Program in International Human Rights Law
Indiana University McKinney School of Law
All of my comments above are mine and mine alone, written in my personal capacity, and not in the capacity as a Judge, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Indiana McKinney’s MCOP, the PIHRL, or any other individual or group.