Month: March 2019

Selection for Travel to Guantanamo Bay to Observe Military Commissions

I was recently confirmed by the Pentagon to serve as a non-governmental organization (NGO) Observer for the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law Program in International Human Rights Law (PIRHL) Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP). As of now, I will be traveling to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba 23 March 2019 through 30 March 2019 to observe motions hearings related to Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarek Bin ‘Attash, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, Ramzi Bin al Shibh, and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi, perhaps more commonly known as the “9/11 Hearings.” In short, these defendants are charged with masterminding the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.

The Mission
I am a second-year student at McKinney and am looking forward to the opportunity to take part in such significant legal proceedings. As an observer, my role is to attend, observe, be observed, analyze, critique, and report my observations. To be best prepared to serve in this role, I have been reading blog posts from previous Observers, as well as other materials available, including the Know Before You Before You Go To Guantanamo Bay Guide and the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual.  Additionally, I have spent time speaking with those who have traveled to Guantanamo Bay previously, either through this program or in other capacities. I have also received some information from the Pentagon, and the IUPUI Study Abroad Office provided helpful links to resources on the internet. Overall, there is a great amount of knowledge and information available, which enables Observers, like me, to be well prepared to head to Guantanamo Bay.

My Motivations
My motivation for applying to the program comes from a variety of sources. I have always had the intention of pursuing a legal career in the military as a member of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps, so the having the opportunity to observe legal proceedings in a military environment was intriguing to me. I was also recently selected to serve as an Army JAG intern this summer, assigned to Fort Carson, CO. Being able to bring my experiences as an Observer to my internship will be invaluable.

From a different perspective, I was motivated to apply after taking the Counterterrorism Law course offered at McKinney. We discussed the Guantanamo Bay proceedings at length, and at the end I felt I had more questions than answers. I am looking forward to having the opportunity to observe the hearings in actual practice, rather than only reading about them in a textbook. Having the opportunity to then share my observations with others and assist with the documentation of the proceedings, through the work the MCOP does and through the Gitmo Observer, ensures the proceedings at Guantanamo Bay are, in some way, accessible to the public.

Looking Ahead
As I get closer to my travel dates, I know I will have to be flexible as schedules and calendars can change often. The best way to stay up to date is to check the calendar available on the Office of Military Commissions website. I will also continue researching resources to get a better understanding of the background of the hearings I have been selected to observe. Overall, I feel quite lucky to have this opportunity and am looking forward to representing the program and McKinney in the best way I can.

Natalie Gaynier, J.D. 2020
Military Commission Observation Project
Program in International Human Rights Law
Indiana University McKinney School of Law |

In Preparation to Attend, Observe, be Observed, Analyze, and Critique a Hearing at Guantanamo Bay.

By: Emily Hunter

My Background

I am currently a 3L evening division student at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.  Prior to law school I spent ten years as a legal assistant. I am currently employed as a law clerk at the Public Defender of Indiana.  

I have been interested in what has been going on at Guantanamo Bay military prison since 2002.  My interest peaked when an attorney from my office left to work on a detainee’s case.  My interest peaked more when I was given the opportunity to be a research assistant to work on the Guantanamo Bay Reader.  This is what led me to apply to travel to Guantanamo Bay through IU McKinney School of Law PIRHL program. 

This will be my first time traveling to Guantanamo Bay.  I am excited to have this opportunity and am looking forward to my travels.

My Preparation

In preparation for my travel I have reviewed the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual, Know Before You Go to Guantanamo Bay Manual.  I also looked up Nashwan al Tamir/Hadi al Iraqi’s docket on the Military Commissions website (  I was able to access unclassified documents filed in his case including, but not limited to, the charging information and memos filed by the Government and Defense Counsel. 

The defendant has been charged with Denying Quarter, Attacking Protected Property, Using Treachery or Perfidy, and Attempted Use of Treachery or Perfidy in attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan between 2003 and 2004.  He has also been charged with Conspiracy to commit law of war offenses.  The defendant has been held at Guantanamo Bay since April 2007, he was arraigned in June 2014.

Abd Hadi al Iraqi (Nashwan al Tamir) (2014 photo by the International Committee of the Red Cross)

My Mission

My mission will be to attend, observe, be observed, analyze, critique, and publish materials on all stakeholders at Guantanamo Bay the week of 5 March to 7 March 2019.  I will have the opportunity to meet and communicate with other NGO members as well as provide them with Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual’s.  Look for more blog posts from me while I am on my travels and updates on how the hearing is going.

Emily Hunter, JD 2020, NGO Monitor, U.S. Military Commission Observation Project, Program in International Human Rights Law, Indiana University McKinney School of Law