It’s 3:59 a.m. and I just arrived at Andrews Air Force Base for my 5th or 6th trip to Cuba since the 2016 summer, and my second trip to Guantanamo Bay since the November Presidential Election.
This time I’m monitoring hearings in the US Military Commission against al Nashiri, who allegedly masterminded the 2000 attack on the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen, killing and wounding dozens of US sailors. He is charged with a series of war crimes and faces the death penalty.
My job as a human rights law monitor (or observer) is to attend, observe, analyze, critique and report on these pre-trial hearings. We are interested in whether the rights and interests of all military commmission shareholders are being afforded to them. “Stakeholders” include the defendants, and also include the victims and their families, the media, the prosecution, witnesses, the US and international communities, among others.
This should be an interesting week. We have 5 days of pre-trial hearings scheduled. The issues are plentiful, with some being novel.
As I’m sitting here at Andrews, I’m observing al Nashiri’s lawyers enter the terminal, members of the prosecution team, human rights group (NGO) representatives, IT staff, trial judiciary staff, and others, all waiting for our 8:00 a.m. flight.
Why arrive at 4:00 a.m. for an 8:00 a.m. flight? Well, because we were instructed to do so. That’s it.