I am a 2015 J.D. graduate of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and a 2017 LL.M. graduate of Notre Dame Law School.
The upcoming hearing scheduled for Abd al Hadi al Iraqi (aka Nashwan al-Tamir) marks the third time I have been selected to travel to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to view military commission hearings.
After one cancellation in March 2015, I was fortunate enough to have traveled to GTMO in September 2015. It was a short, but fascinating experience. I am grateful for the opportunity to potentially make the trip again. My previous blog posts can be found here.
The hearings I am scheduled to observe so far are still set for August 14-18.
Where the Case Stands
Detained in GTMO since 2007 and accused of war crimes related to his alleged conduct as an alleged al-Qaida commander, the U.S. charged Hadi al Iraqi in 2014. During my first trip to GTMO, he fired his lead military appointed defense counsel in an effort to retain a private attorney.
As of October 2016, the case also has a new military judge. Marine Corps Colonel P.S.
Rubin succeeded Navy Captain J.K. Waits without explanation.
August Hearing Session
According to the Docketing Order, dated July 21, 2017, the upcoming hearing session should consist of argument and the presentation of evidence related to four defense motions. The order can be found here.
Two of the motions deal with compelling discovery of statements made by a defendant in another military commission case, Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza al-Darbi. Another motion is seeking to dismiss the charges against their client because the defense claims Congress lacks the Constitutional power to limit the jurisdiction of military commissions to non-citizens. In the fourth motion, the defense seeks the commission’s permission to allow the defendant to use a personal computer.
The last time I traveled to GTMO, I made a preliminary blog post going off of the docketing order as well, but all of that went out the window when everyone received word that Hadi wanted to fire his counsel. Therefore, if all of these issues are actually heard, then it will be a fair amount of progress.
I am driving to Joint Andrews Air Base tomorrow. I am looking forward to again experiencing the incredibly bureaucratic process of traveling to GTMO. Viewing the hearing last time had a significant impact on how I view certain institutions, such as the military and the justice system, that are built on notions of patriotism. I also may be able to see some of my fellow Indiana National Guardsmen who arrived in GTMO last summer, if they are still there.
Tyler J. Smith, J.D., LL.M.
Member, Military Commission Observation Project
Program in International Human Rights Law
Indiana University McKinney School of Law