Month: January 2019

My Privilege to Serve as an NGO Observer for the Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP).

Background Information 

My name is Alexandra Keller and I have been selected to become a non-governmental organization (NGO) Observer for Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP). My authorization has now officially been confirmed by the Pentagon and Program Director to be a first-time observer of the hearings conducted at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba during January 26 – February 2, 2019 for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.  Thus, I now begin my observation and documentation.

I am in my third year of law school and will be graduating in May 2019.  While pursuing my J.D., I have had the opportunity to extern for the Office of the Indiana Attorney General in the Consumer Protection Division, as well as an intern for the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission.

I have interests in the federal government, federal law enforcement, and international criminal law, which has led me to taking courses such as Counterterrorism, International Human Rights and International Criminal Law. 

The Mission

I have a deep interest in the interaction between national and human rights issues, including the balance that must be struck between the two. For this reason, I strongly believe in the nature of our mission as NGO Observers to attend, observe, be observed, analyze, critique and report on the conditions and nature of the hearings that occur at Guantanamo Bay to ensure transparency and fair trials for the individuals there.

It is my duty as an observer to be a mechanism for transparency so that the public may better understand the practices and procedures at Guantanamo Bay, as well as to help prevent the occurrence of rights abuses through my honest and factual observations and findings. 

To help prepare for my time at Guantanamo Bay, I have been following our checklist, the Miami Herald for updates on past, current and upcoming hearings, reading the Gitmo Observer blog posts, the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual, the Know Before You Go To Guantanamo Manual,

and have been keeping in touch with my fellow observers past and present. I will continue to research and take notes on the hearings I plan to observe so that I may be completely prepared upon arrival, and so that I may monitor and submit my findings as accurately and clearly as possible.

 I am greatly looking forward to this opportunity to help ensure the existence of fair trials at Guantanamo Bay and can think of no greater honor or privilege. I am especially looking forward to communicating with other NGO members about their experiences and missions, being able to communicate the importance of our mission and purpose, as well as provide our materials to them.  Before I begin my travels to Andrews Airforce Base, I will submit a blogpost containing an overview of the background information, stakeholders and issues being discussed in the hearings I plan to attend.

Alexandra Keller, J.D. 2019

NGO Monitor, U.S. Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP)

Program in International Human Rights Law

Indiana University McKinney School of Law

kellerak@iu.edu

JOINT BASE ANDREWS TO GUANTÁNAMO BAY, CUBA – MILITARY COMMISSION HEARINGS AGAINST HADI AL-IRAQI/NASHWAN AL TAMIR

I’m a 3L student at Indiana University Mckinney School of Law.  During my time at McKinney I have been pursuing a certificate in International and Comparative Law.  While pursuing the certificate, I’ve taken courses such as International Law, Counterterrorism, and National Security.  Observing the Hadi/Nashwan military proceedings at Guantanamo Bay from will be an excellent opportunity to gain real life experience with topics I’ve only learned about in the classroom.  Also, this trip is especially exciting for me because I was recently notified that I was selected to the Air Force JAG Corps. Observing the proceedings in Guantanamo will give me a chance to experience the role of a military attorney.

This mission will mark the first time that Indiana University McKinney School of Law has been authorized to send two representatives as NGO observers on the same trip. During our mission to Guantanamo Bay we will have five main responsibilities. We must attend, observe and be observed, analyze, critique, and report. As the eyes and ears of the outside world into Guantanamo Bay, we are responsible to share the truth of what we observe.


In preparation for the trip I’ve been reading the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual, the Know Before You Go To Guantanamo Bay Manual, and reading previous blog posts on The Gitmo Observer page.  Also, I have been researching the background information regarding Hadi Al-Iraqi/Nashwan Al-Tamir and other similar proceedings. After spending the day in Washington D.C. today, I depart to Guantanamo Bay on Sunday, January 6, 2019.  Tomorrow will be an exciting day as it will be my first trip on military aircraft and my first time landing in Cuba.  I’m very much looking forward participating in the project as an observer. 

Garrett Welch

TO GUANTÁNAMO BAY, CUBA FOR MILITARY COMMISSION HEARINGS AGAINST HADI AL-IRAQI/NASHWAN AL TAMIR

gitmo2

I am library faculty at Indiana University McKinney School of Law and have participated in the Law School’s Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP) as a Non-governmental organization (NGO) observer, since November 2018. I was approved by the Pentagon to travel to the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for U.S. Military Commission hearings against Hadi al-Iraqi/Nashwan al Tamir scheduled for 6-15 January, 2019.

In November 2018, I had an opportunity to travel to Ft. Meade, Maryland, to monitor, observe, and report on pre-trial proceedings in the case against Hadi al Iraqi/Nashwan al Tamir (via CCTV) held on 6-9 November, 2018, as a NGO representative on behalf of the Indiana University McKinney School of Law’s Military Commission Observation Project. Professor George Edwards created the project, which sends Indiana University McKinney School of Law students, faculty, staff, and graduates to Guantánamo, Ft. Meade, the Pentagon, and elsewhere to monitor hearings. Our mission is to attend, observe, be seen, analyze, critique, and report on proceedings, which primarily are pre-trial proceedings for persons associated with al Qaeda, or the Taliban, who allegedly perpetrated war crimes. More about MCOP and Hadi/Nashwan may be found in my earlier blog post here.

In preparation for my trip, I have been reading the Guantánamo Bay Fair Trial Manual, the Know Before You Go To Guantánamo Bay Manual, Military Commissions reports, also following Miami Herald online and reading Carol Rosenberg’s tweets on the latest goings in Guantánamo. Her latest tweets on the Hadi al Iraqi/Nashwan al Tamir case can be found here.

I am flying to Washington D.C. tomorrow morning, before departing to Guantánamo Bay on Sunday, January 6, 2019.  As a first-time observer of the military hearings in Guantánamo, I am very excited and looking forward to see in-person how the operations are conducted on this remote U.S. Naval base in Cuba. I will write more before my flight to the Naval Base.

Larissa Sullivant