Hearings in a Guantanamo Bay, Cuba U.S. military commission war crimes case are scheduled for 5 to 9 November 2018. I was nominated to travel to Ft. Meade, Maryland, where the hearings will be broadcast live via CCTV, direct from the Guantanamo courtroom, in a criminal case against an alleged high level member of al Qaeda Iraq.
I am a librarian at Indiana University Robert McKinney School of Law with a long interest in international law and human rights. When I arrived at the law school in January 2017, I was intrigued by its Military Commission Observation Project, which is part of our law school’s Program in International Human Rights Law.
In January 2018, Professor George Edwards circulated a note to faculty, staff, students and graduates announcing that we were all eligible to travel to monitor military commission war crimes hearings at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (for live monitoring in the courtroom) and to Ft. Meade (for CCTV monitoring). In February 2018, I submitted my application and supporting documents to the Pentagon for travel to both Guantanamo and Ft. Meade, as a non-governmental organization (NGO) observer. The Pentagon cleared me for travel to Guantanamo and to Ft. Meade. Due to various circumstances, I have opted to travel to Ft. Meade for my first observation mission.
The military commission hearings I plan to monitor are against a man from Iraq whom the prosecution calls Abd al Hadi al Iraqi, but who calls himself Nashwan al Tamir. The U.S. accuses him of being a senior member of al-Qaeda Iraq, liaison with the Taliban, and perpetrator of war crimes. The charges include denying quarter, attacking protected property, using treachery or perfidy, and attempted use of treachery or perfidy in a series of attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan between about 2003 and 2004, and conspiracy to commit law of war offenses. He faces a full range of sentencing possibilities if convicted – a term of years, or life in prison. The death penalty is not on the table.
As I was preparing for monitoring, I wanted to review motion papers and other official documents for the case. I looked up the case at mc.mil. However, much of the very recent court documents are hidden behind a blocked screen that indicates that those documents are undergoing a security review and are not accessible to the public at this time.
Preparing to Monitor
My trip will begin in about a week. To prepare for the case, I have been reading the following sources: The Know before You Go to Guantanamo Bay Manual and The Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual, principally authored by Professor George Edwards, with the assistance of McKinney stakeholders and contributions from many others. These manuals provide significant and necessary information for anyone monitoring these cases.
As an observer / monitor, my mission is to attend, observe, be observed, analyze, critique and report on the military commission hearing at Guantanamo. I am looking forward to this opportunity.
As part of my mission, I plan to submit another blog post before I depart, and send in posts while there.
NGO Monitor, U.S. Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP)
Program in International Human Rights Law
Indiana University McKinney School of Law