I completed the first leg of my journey from Indiana to Ft. Meade, Maryland to monitor the U.S. Guantanamo Bay Military Commission case against the 5 alleged masterminds of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The hearings are being broadcast from Guantanamo to Ft. Meade this week. I am monitoring as a representative of the Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP) of the Program in International Human Rights Law of Indiana University McKinney School of Law.
My arrival in the DC area
I arrived at Washington-Dulles Airport late last night (Sunday) and proceeded to Ft. Meade, where my fellow Indiana McKinney student Katherine Forbes was waiting to escort me onto the base. Katherine was able to escort me on to base since she is also a member of the Indiana National Guard. She and I are staying at a hotel inside of Ft. Meade, which makes picking up our badges and attending the hearings very convenient.
My DC tour after hearing opening delay
Originally the hearings this week were scheduled to begin on Monday, 10 October 2016. Since the hearings were pushed back to start a day later on Tuesday the 11th, I decided to use Monday to visit Washington D.C., since I have never had the chance to visit before. I took a train from Odenton MARC station near Ft. Meade, and was dropped off at Union Station in D.C. about 40 minutes later. From there, I took a taxi to the Lincoln Memorial. As I walked up to the monument, I was struck with a surreal moment of finally seeing the statue of Lincoln in person, only every having seen it in media. I sat on the steps of the memorial, looking towards the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument, and thought of how Dr. King must have felt, standing in the same location, giving the “I Have A Dream” speech to thousands of supporters.
From there, I walked down the National Mall, stopping at the Vietnam Memorial, as I made my way to the White House. There it was, as I’d always seen it in videos and pictures. I was surrounded by people speaking in foreign languages, French, Spanish, Vietnamese, German – other languages I couldn’t distinguish. It was an honor to me, at that moment, realizing that these people had traveled thousands of miles to visit our center of government, and the heart of our great nation.
After the White House, I walked over to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, before making my way to the United States Supreme Court. There were less tourists at the Supreme Court than anywhere else I had visited, so I took my time and enjoyed the near-deserted symbol of American jurisprudence.
Unfortunately, since today is a federally recognized holiday, the court was closed, so I enjoyed the view of the Capitol building from the steps of the Supreme Court, before making my way over. The Capitol building was my last stop for the day, having walked several miles, and needing to prepare to observe the hearing tomorrow morning. I made my way to the Union Station, and caught a train back to Ft. Meade.
So far, this trip is, to me, what law school is all about. To be exposed with a wide variety of experiences makes for a well-rounded individual. Today prepared me for tomorrow in a way I couldn’t imagine before.
Speaking of tomorrow, I have been spending time preparing for the hearings, trying to learn as much as I can about the case. I am looking forward to it.