Carol Rosenberg

Travel to Guantanamo Bay to Monitor War Crimes Hearings Against Nashwan al Tamir / Hadi al Iraqi

Nominated for Travel

I am a recent graduate of Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law (IU McKinney) seeking to begin a career in public interest law, and I am participating in IU McKinney’s Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP) as an NGO Observer.

Abd Hadi al Iraqi (Nashwan al Tamir)

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

With the Pentagon’s approval, I am now scheduled to attend, observe, be observed, analyze, critique, and report on military commission hearings at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station (GTMO) in the case against Nashwan al-Tamir (what he declares to be his true name), or Abd al Hadi al Iraqi (as he is being charged by the prosecution; hereinafter “Tamir / Hadi”).  I am scheduled to observe hearings in the case against Tamir / Hadi between 22 September 2018 and 29 September 2018.

Tamir / Hadi is an alleged senior member of al-Qaeda, and is accused of commanding indiscriminate attacks against U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan and Pakistan in collaboration the Taliban, among other charges.  Tamir / Hadi was captured in Turkey in late 2006 and was soon after turned over to U.S. intelligence.  He subsequently spent 170 days in secret CIA custody before being transferred to GTMO in 2007, where he has been the subject of criminal proceedings since 2014.  He is one of seventeen men U.S. officials have described as a “high-value detainee” currently being held at GTMO, and was proclaimed by the Bush administration to be among Osama bin Laden’s “most experienced paramilitary leaders”.  Tamir / Hadi faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for his alleged crimes.

Previous Nomination

I was previously nominated to observe proceedings against Tamir / Hadi in April 2018.  However, approximately one week prior to my scheduled travel date, I received an email from the U.S. Office of Military Commissions declaring that these hearings were cancelled.  I never received an official communication stating the reason for this cancellation, nor have I located definitive information regarding this cancellation elsewhere.  Thus, I cannot conclusively state the reason for it one way or another at this time.

Notably, however, Tamir / Hadi’s severe chronic back pain, which caused him to undergo a series of four spinal surgeries in 2017, has compelled cancellations and other adjustments within Tamir / Hadi’s hearing schedule in past instances.  Indeed, Tamir has apparently undergone a fifth spinal surgery as late as May 2018, which also resulted in hearing cancelations.  With this in mind, I have opted to keep my September schedule largely flexible so I may possibly attend alternative hearings in the event of further cancelations.

Background and Interest in Observing

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Me speaking during the Program in International Human Rights Law 20th Anniversary in December 2017.

I became interested in the MCOP through my past engagements with IU McKinney’s exceptional Program in International Human Rights Law (PIHRL), which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.  During the summer of 2017, I had the opportunity to support human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs) spanning across three continents as a PIHRL Intern.  I worked with NGOs in Poland, Uganda, and Mongolia on a broad range of public interest and human rights work.

With the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in Poland, I generated research presented in amici curiae briefs in the European Court of Human Rights.  With the Community Transformation Foundation Network in Uganda, I conducted field interviews with survivors of intimate partner violence to supplement ongoing impact reports.  With the LGBT Centre in Mongolia, I helped train over 100 police officers to better understand Mongolia’s newly-established hate crime laws and to better support survivors of hate crimes.

It is through these tremendous experiences that I developed a deeper appreciation for international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and international criminal law.  This appreciation immediately attracted me to the MCOP, as the crux of its mission is to ensure the U.S. Government follows its enduring mandate to respect fair trial rights and other internationally-recognized human rights for all stakeholders during GTMO proceedings.

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Me in the Ulaanbaatar City Public Library in August 2017 presenting and facilitating discussion on “A Guide to U.S. Master of Laws (LL.M.) & Other U.S. Law Degree Programs for Students from Mongolia”, as prepared by Professor George E. Edwards.

Preparing to Observe

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Me reviewing the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual (Volume I) in preparation for travel to GTMO during my previous nomination.

To prepare myself to travel to GTMO as an NGO Observer, I continue to review several relevant documents authored by Professor George E. Edwards with contributions from other IU McKinney affiliates.  First among these are the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual (Volume I) and the Appendices to Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual (Volume II).  These Manuals identify the internationally-recognized rights which apply to fair trials in the U.S. Military Commission context.  They also detail the roles and objectives of NGO Observers in this context, and thus continue to be invaluable resources during my preparations.

Next among these documents is the Know Before You Go To Guantanamo Bay Guide.  The Guide further details the roles of NGO Observers at GTMO, and seeks to assist Observers with all manner of logistics as they prepare to travel and observe hearings.  Information regarding how to travel to GTMO, how to stay healthy while at GTMO, and even where to eat while at GTMO are all included in the Guide.  Not only has this Guide been informative, it has also offered me great peace of mind.

Beyond these materials, I have continued reviewing publicly accessible GTMO case information through the U.S. Military Commission website – www.mc.mil – to better familiarize myself with the substantive proceedings in the case against Tamir / Hadi, and to better understand the procedural context of Military Commissions in general.  Among the most notable progressions in the Tamir / Hadi case since my first nomination is the detailing of Marine Lieutenant Colonel Michael D. Libretto as the new presiding judge over proceedings, who replaced the previously detailed Marine Colonel Peter S. Rubin on 13 June 2018.

Since my first nomination, I have also closely monitored posts authored by journalist Carol Rosenberg which are available on the Miami Herald, as well as subsequent blog posts by other MCOP Representatives which are available on the GITMO Observer.  As past MCOP Representatives have pointed out, Ms. Rosenberg provides comprehensive reports on GTMO proceedings, which serve as excellent supplements to the GTMO case information I described above.

I remain hopeful and excited that the hearings I am scheduled to attend will not cancel as they did during my prior nomination, and I remain eager to fulfil my important role as an NGO Observer.

As always, please stay tuned for future posts.

Jacob Irven, J.D ‘18.

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

Program in International Human Rights Law

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Our 2-day delayed flight to Guantanamo Bay’s War Crime Court

A few weeks ago I was confirmed as an NGO Observer to monitor the hearings in the 9/11 case at Guantanamo Bay (click here to see my previous posts). It was finally the day to fly from Indianapolis, where I currently live, to Washington DC, where I would catch a military flight at Andrews Air Force Base to take me to Guantanamo Bay. The flight from Andrews to Guantanamo Bay was scheduled for Saturday, October 8, morning, and I was supposed to be at Andrews at 5:30 am.

I was at Atlanta Airport, half way to DC, when I opened my emails and received this message, sent Friday, October 7, at 4:42 pm:

“There has been a change in the flight schedule and you will all now be flying down on island on Monday at 1000. Unfortunately, the number of passengers for tomorrow’s flight exceeded the number of seats available on the aircraft (primarily due to additional personnel that needed to fly down to assess the infrastructure post-storm).”

I was already on my way, so I had to book two extra nights at the DC hotel, and spend the whole weekend in DC.

On Saturday, October 8, Carol Rosenberg (link), a Miami Herald correspondent and one of the passengers of our original Saturday morning flight – that was taking judges, defense councils, prosecution, interpreters, victims and family members, media and others to Guantanamo – tweeted she had to leave the airplane and was not able to go to Guantanamo Bay that day. Apparently information was circulated that the issue was the overweight of the aircraft and the Pentagon needed to solve it to be able to fly around the Hurricane Mathew.

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Until that moment, it appears that those on this plane thought only the NGO Observers would be left behind in DC for 2 days. As it turns out, media may have been bumped out the plane, but media’s luggage stayed on board. How would that help effectively resolve overweight issues?

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Carol Rosenberg then reported that she noticed the IT support techies were likewise bumped from the flight.

 

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(see more here)

So, I am thinking what kind of additional personnel instead of NGO Observers and media needed to fly down to assess the infrastructure post-storm, if IT techies were not essential.

The transparency we are pursuing seems to be blurred.

 

Aline Fagundes (LL.M. Candidate, ’17)

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

Program in International Human Rights Law

Indiana University McKinney School of Law

 

All of my comments above are mine and mine alone, written in my personal capacity, and not in the capacity as a Judge, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Indiana McKinney’s MCOP, the PIHRL, or any other individual or group.

A Day Exploring Guantanamo Bay

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The view of the bay in front of the Jerk House, coffee shop and the Tiki Bar.

Today the court in the 9/11 case was in closed session all day to discuss confidential information. We were not allowed to attend the hearing and instead were left  spend the day at our own leisure (with our awesome coast guard escorts to take us around the island). I took advantage of the opportunity to sleep in until a little past 8am and then joined several of my fellow observers to grab a coffee at the shop known as the “Starbucks” (the shop has another name, but everyone seems to call it Starbucks) right by the Jerk House. A few nights ago I had the best jerk chicken I have ever had outside of Jamaica at the Jerk House.

 

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Relaxing on Windmill Beach near the now closed Camp Iguana

It was time for my first visit to the beach for the week and so off we went to Windmill Beach, what I was told was the most popular beach on the base. It’s a rocky shore and there’s a bit of coral to dodge when entering the ocean, but the swimming was refreshing with small waves breaking near the shore and lounge chairs for free use. We also saw a few groups of scuba divers coming in and we were told the base offers scuba certification. I relaxed by the water below the former detention camp and read a bit (my book club is reading Jared Diamond’s “Collapse”; his theories seem a bit speculative to me).

 

Nearby Windmill Beach was Camp Iguana. The camp’s small size was made up by it’s prominent location overlooking the Caribbean and Windmill Beach. If it wasn’t a detainment facility, it would be a lovely spot for a hotel or spa. The camp formerly held three child soldiers and later some detainees who were classified as no longer enemy combatants.   It felt a little odd swimming and relaxing below a detainment facility (even a closed one), but such is the way of Guantanamo Bay: one night you pick up a Big Mac at McDonald’s and listen for a minute to the school’s band playing marches in the McDonald’s playground before you go to see “The Big Short” at the huge outdoor theater. While a few hours earlier you heard testimony from a detainee who alleges he is regularly and professionally tortured by some of the same men and women who are likely eating next to you at that same McDonald’s and sitting next to you at the movie. I’m not making any judgement as to the veracity of Bin al Shibh’s claims, but the contrast between the very friendly, pleasant and safe feeling that one has on the base perhaps belies the great seriousness in that there are numerous claims in the media and from NGOs that torture did take place here not terribly long ago and also that America’s most vilified and allegedly most dangerous enemies are detained here.

On a lighter note, I apparently did a poor job of applying sun screen as my splotchy sun burns are so bad, my roommates asked me if I have a skin disease. We made our way from the beach to three spots for souvenirs on the island: Radio GTMO, the post office and “Personalized Services,” a little gift shop by the Navy Exchange store.

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Holding a copy of “The Doors: Setting the Record Straight” from Radio GTMO’s vinyl collection with part of the collection visible in the background

We made our way to Radio GTMO first. A friendly radio engineer service member took us on a tour of the small station. There is a green room, broadcasting room, CD room, server/broadcasting room and a storage room where, tucked away in a corner, is the third largest vinyl collection at any US military base in the world. The vinyls are hidden away for a reason; the radio station employees, who recognize their value and play them regularly (including for throwback Thursdays), try to keep the vinyl’s in a place that is less prominent in the station so they don’t get picked for disposal to free up space. Carol Rosenburg wrote an interesting story about the attempted destruction of the 20,000 or so records. I picked up a few souvenirs including a Fidel Castro Bobblehead with the Radio GTMO logo on the base: “Rockin’ in Fidel’s Backyard.” The visit to the small post office and the Personalized Services store were less exciting, but I was able to pick up a couple souvenirs for friends and family. We had lunch at Subway and

Fidel

I am very happy with my Fidel bobblehead.

I spent the rest of the afternoon in the NGO lounge catching up with the outside world, preparing posts for this blog and killing time until our meeting with the Hawasawi defense team after the closed hearing in the 9/11 case let out.

By Matt Kubal, JD, Indiana University McKinney School of Law

The Club No One Wants to Join

At the end of each week of the 9/11 hearings, there are a series of concluding media briefings at which the defense teams, the prosecution, and the families of the 9/11 victims speak to the members of the press who are present in Guantanamo Bay. This week the members of the media included representatives from news outlets, including among others, Associated Press, BreitBart News,  BuzzFeed, and Law DragonCarol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald was present as well and is the only reporter that has attended all of the Military Commission hearings. The NGO Observers are not allowed to attend these press briefings but are allowed to view them via a live stream in the NGO Office Lounge.

After Walter RuizJames Connell III, and David Nevin, defense attorneys, and Chief Prosecutor Brigadier General Mark Martins spoke, four of the Victims’ Family Members chose to speak to the media. It was apparent from their statements that each is on an individual journey.

Phyllis Rodriguez spoke first. Her 31-year-old son Greg died in the attacks on the World Trade Center. She started by saying she was a 9/11 victim’s family member and as such she was a member of a “club no one wants to join.” Phyllis then went on to say that she had always opposed the death penalty, but that her conviction had not been tested before 9/11.

Four days after the 9/11 attacks she and her husband Orlando Rodriguez wrote an open letter, “Not In Our Son’s Name,”calling on President Bush not to resort to a military retaliation against Afghanistan. The print version is here. As a result of the letter circulating on the internet along with several others by victims’ family members calling for non-violent solutions, they met others who held similar beliefs. From these connections, the non-profit September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows was formed on February 14, 2002.

The organization’s mission is stated on its website as follows: “an organization founded by family members of those killed on September 11th who have united to turn our grief into action for peace. By developing and advocating nonviolent options and actions in the pursuit of justice, we hope to break the cycles of violence engendered by war and terrorism. Acknowledging our common experience with all people affected by violence throughout the world, we work to create a safer and more peaceful world for everyone.” (Peaceful Tomorrows website). The organization has received numerous awards, including a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 2004.

In 2015 film maker Gayla Jamison produced and directed a documentary about the ongoing reconcilation work of Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez. The film is entitled In Our Son’s Name.

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Phyllis Rodriguez and her daughter Julia. (Guantanamo Bay Ferry)

The press briefings are recorded and the video posted on the Military Commission site for public viewing. The December 11, 2015 briefing will be posted shortly.  The words and stories of all the Victims’ Family Members are powerful reminders of the importance of making sure that the defendants are afforded fair and just proceedings by the Military Commission.
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Sunrise at Guantanamo Bay, awaiting ferry to the base airport.

By: Catherine A. Lemmer, 9/11 Hearings, Guantanamo Bay, 11 December 2015.

USS Cole Case Day 1 Wrap Up: Guantanamo Bay

From the ferry crossing Guantanamo Bay, the GTMO airport where we arrived in the background.

View from the ferry crossing Guantanamo Bay, the GTMO airport where we arrived in the background.

Touch Down at GTMO

The first day we arrived at Guantanamo Bay was sobering. This side of the island is beautiful, and everyone at the Base who met us is very friendly. We arrived, went through security and got on vans to head to the Ferry. It is a short ferry ride to Camp Justice, and we had interesting conversations with other observers and different people going to Guantanamo for different purposes unrelated to the pretrial hearings. Our luggage was waiting for us when we arrived. We have all been set up in two tents; one for the men and one for women.

On Sunday, we went for dinner at an Irish restaurant. The food was everything but Irish, but I cannot judge seeing as I ordered tilapia! I found it interesting that we could not all sit together as we had not made a reservation 24 hours in advance. Yesterday (Monday, the 2nd) we switched things u and went next door the Irish place, the Windjammer, which has the exact same menu as the Irish place. Sigh.

Guantanamo Bay Courtroom from the viewing gallery, behind  the thick, bulletproof glass.

Guantanamo Bay Courtroom from the viewing gallery, behind the thick, bulletproof glass. (Photo credit: CBS News. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Courtroom Tour

Day 1 at Gitmo started with a tour of the Court. We were not able to go inside the actual courtroom as they had already prepared it for the session. We sat in the gallery, which is behind glass windows that have TV monitors transmitting with a 40-second delay to allow for time to censure any classified information that may be said in court.

We talked about the trial process in Military Commissions, Convening authorities and their roles, especially in light of the Unlawful Influence motion that was set to be ruled on., how juries and selected,  and went over some court rules and structure.

Court Session Begins – Victims & Family Join

We reconvened at the court at 10:30 a.m. This time we were joined by Victims and Family who sat on the opposite end of the room. In the room, we had our NGO escorts as well as some military personnel to escort us if we needed to leave the room, or if we needed anything else. One of them was actually from Indiana. Always great to meet “fellow Hoosiers”. Our escorts have been wonderful the entire time, and drive us anywhere we wish to go, including to the court a few yards away sometimes.

We were given assigned seats even though the gallery was half-empty.

Courtroom sketch of al Nashiri by artist Janet Hamlin. Today in court he was wearing a similar white jumpsuit.

File courtroom sketch of al Nashiri by artist Janet Hamlin. Today in court he was wearing a similar white jumpsuit.

From where I was in the back row, I did not see the bring al Nashiri in, but I did see him during our “comfort break”. He was in a white jumpsuit and was chatting with his team, looking very calm. At 50 years old, he certainly looks a lot younger in my opinion

Judge’s Ruling on Unlawful Influence by Marine Major General Vaughn Ary (retired)

First order of business, Judge Spath delivered his ruling on the Unlawful Influence Motion (AE 332, Defense Motion to Dismiss for Unlawful Influence and Denial of Due Process for Failure to Provide an Independent Judiciary). The Guantanamo Fair Trial Manual addresses the relevant laws on Unlawful Influence on page 63.

The judge ruled that there was an appearance of Unlawful Influence by retired Marine Major General Vaughn Ary, the Convening Authority (CA) but that because he found Ary did not act in bad faith he did not allow the defense remedies of dismissing the case (See pg. 5896 Unofficial Unauthenticated Transcript, al Nashiri, A March 2015). He further ordered that the CA and his legal advisors be disqualified from taking any further action and making any further recommendations in the case. He called for the appointment of a new CA.

There will be no further evidentiary hearings this week, and several people have mentioned that we may wrap up the sessions as early as today (Tuesday).

The judge mentioned that a ruling on a Motion 205 would be out soon, but that he had denied 205 BB (a motion to reargue) and 205 EE (a motion to supplement additional pleadings). I later learned during a briefing with General Martins that these were defense motions to seal some of al Nashiri’s medical records for privacy reasons.

More Motions

At the 1300hrs (1:00 p.m.) session, the court heard spirited arguments from both the defense and prosecution on the following motions:

  • AE 331 A – Government Motion To Amend the Docketing Order (February 2015 Hearing) To Allow The Government To Determine The Manner In Which It Presents Its Evidence Relating To The Admissibility Of Government-Noticed Hearsay And Evidence Identified In AE 207;
  • AE 319J – Defense Motion to Continue Further Hearings on the Government’s Motion to Admit Hearsay Until the Court of Military Commissions Review Renders a Final Judgment on Appeal;
  • AE 256D, Defense Motion to Strike AE 256C: Government Notice of Bill of Particulars (Defining Civilian Population as Used in Aggravating Factor #5);
  • AE 257D, Defense Motion to Strike AE 257C: Government Notice of Bill of Particulars (Defining Civilian Population as Used in Aggravating Factor #5).

Meeting with Chief Prosecutor General Martins

The session ended at about 3:30 p.m. to the public, and continued to discuss a classified Motion 505 in chambers. We met about an hour (for about an hour) later with Army Brig. General Mark Martins, the Chief Prosecutor in the Office of Military Commissions.

We went over some of the hearsay rules under the Military Commissions Act relating to some of the motions discussed in the afternoon session, and answered our questions relating not just to the USS Cole.

Meeting Carol Rosenberg

Before this meeting however, I bumped into Ms. Carol Rosenberg, a notable reporter from the Miami Herald who is known as the Dean of the GTMO Press Corps and has been reporting on Guantanamo since 2002. She said she had read my tweet, and that she knew how to adjust the air conditioning in the tents! Who knew! She later came back and showed us how to do just that. We made very minimal adjustments so as not to let any rodents in or get the tent moist and moldy. Thanks to that, night 2 was a sleeping-bag-only affair.

Tuesday’s Court Schedule

Today (Tuesday) the court session begins at 9:00 am.

Avril Rua Pitt, Camp Justice, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Year End Update: More Guantanamo Detainees Released (Catherine Lemmer)

Keeping informed. 

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Carol Rosenberg by Colonel Bryan Browles (from Wikipedia)

The most important thing I observed during my time at Guantanamo Bay is that the activities that occur there are far from the minds of most Americans. In my small opinion, this physical and virtual distance creates a situation ripe for abuse. On the flight home I sat across the aisle from Carol Rosenberg (Miami Herald) and plied her with questions. She is perhaps the best source of knowledge as she has been on the story since the arrival of the first detainees in 2002. During the NGO Observer Tour of the courtroom facilities, the Officer in Charge of the Office of Military Commissions, John Imhof, often looked to her for information.

I made a commitment to myself to stay informed. It shouldn’t take a lot of effort — I’ve started following Ms. Rosenberg’s twitter feed and set up an alert on my news feeds.

National Public Radio interviewed Ms. Rosenberg at 6:45 pm EST on December 31 regarding the release of an additional four detainees and the efforts to close Guantanamo Bay. As of this date, there are still 127 detainees, 59 of whom have been cleared for release. While the rest of the world prepared for year end celebrations, she maintained her vigilance on our behalf.

(Posted by Catherine Lemmer)

An illusion of transparency

 Camp X-Ray Experience

The cancellation of today’s hearings left the NGO observers at loose ends.  A few of us asked if we were permitted to visit Camp X-Ray. A van and driver were arranged and we headed out late morning for the 15-minute drive to the no-longer used facility.

There is a strange juxtaposition of life here on the base. On our way to Camp X-ray we drove through military family housing–many of the houses are decorated with festive Christmas decorations–and just as we made the last turn out of the neighborhood there was a woman walking her dog and another woman jogging while pushing children in a double stroller. We could have been in any middle class suburb in America!

Within minutes of the neighborhood we pulled over & viewed Camp X-Ray. 

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Camp X-Ray (detainees were held here from January to April 2002)

Camp X-Ray was the temporary detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. The first detainees arrived in January 2002. In April 2002 Camp X-Ray was closed and the detainees transferred to the permanent prison camp–Camp Delta.  It is estimated that Camp X-Ray housed 800 men and teens during its use. Carol Rosenberg (Miami Herald) reported that in 2009 the FBI photographed and documented the camp.  U.S. courts have ordered the preservation of Camp X-Ray facilities where detainees were held at the request of defense lawyers who want it kept intact as a crime scene.

Camp X-Ray, Guantanamo Bay

Camp X-Ray, Guantanamo Bay

Although media representatives and others have toured Camp X-Ray, we were only permitted to view it from the road. Similarly NGO observers are not given access to the detainee facilities and other facilities used by the military commission process. The government challenges the credibility of the NGO observers by limiting our access while demanding that we report that all is well here with the Military Commissions in Guantanamo Bay.

 

9-11 Hearings Halted Due to Female Guard Issue

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9-11  Parties Court Seating Chart

I won’t be using this seating chart this morning.

Despite closed-door sessions with Judge Pohl on Sunday (14 December 2014), the prosecution and defense did not reach agreement on the female guard issue. A detainee is physically touched by the guards when moved from his cell; for example, for court appearances and attorney meetings. Woman constitute nearly 25% of the guard population at Camp 7 where the high level detainees are imprisoned and are integrated into the details. The detainees object on religious grounds to physical contact with women. If women are in the transfer detail, the detainees refuse to leave their cells; even if it means foregoing attorney meetings. If a detainee refuses to leave his cell, a forced cell extraction occurs (“FCE”). The FCE has been described as a tackle-and-shackle procedure.

All detainees were ordered to appear in court this morning which could have prompted FCEs. In order to avoid FCEs, Judge Pohl cancelled today’s hearings.

The NGO observers are awaiting a briefing from Chief Prosecutor Mark Martins later this afternoon. There is also the possibility of a briefing from the defense teams. I will post updates as soon as I have any news.

Addendum: The continued use of female guards despite the religious concerns of the detainees is perplexing. Other accommodations have been made for the detainees. For example, they are allowed to bring their prayer rugs into the courtroom; action in the courtroom stops to allow the detainees to pray; the direction of Mecca is marked on a wall in the courtroom; and dietary restrictions are taken into account when preparing their meals. Explanations as to why all male guard transfer teams are being used include the following (paraphrased): (i) the armed forces are an equal opportunity employer and women are being integrated; (ii) the judge does not manage or wish to manage the detainee facilities; (iii) 25% of the guard force here is women and it is not possible to take them out of the rotation.  More to come on this.

(Posted by Catherine Lemmer)

Guantanamo Bay – Arrival and Defense Counsel

Flight to Guantanamo

“What’s the movie on this flight?” One hardly expects that to be the first question one hears on a chartered Miami International Air flight bound for the Guantanamo Bay 9-11 hearings. One also doesn’t expect to engage in a humorous movie selection process with members of the defense teams, NGO observers, and a flight attendant – in the end, the “chick flick” was vetoed and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” went into the play slot.

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Tent 9A – My Home Sweet Home for the next few days.

The Saturday flight from Andrews Air Force Base and the ferry ride to the island were uneventful. I sat in the back of the plane with the media and other NGO observers.

Arrival

Upon arrival, the NGO observers were directed to our tents in Camp Justice, taken to get our base badges, and given a brief NGO orientation about the Guantanamo Naval Base.  What is easy to forget is that the Guantanamo Naval Base has been in existence and operating since 1898; it is only since 2002 that it has served as detention camp for alleged enemy combatants.

Defense Bar-B-Q — Meeting lawyers, press, and others. The week’s agenda.

On Saturday evening the NGO observers were invited to a BBQ by the defense team for Ammar al Baluchi.  Carol Rosenberg and members from the other defense teams attended as well.

James Connell, Learned Counsel for Mr. al Baluchi, gave a lengthy briefing on motions set to be heard Monday and Tuesday. In addition to the conflict of interest matters (see my earlier post), the issue of the use of female guards is occupying a fair amount of time. At issue is whether female guards should be able to physically touch the prisoners as they are being prepared for transfer from their cells. The prisoners object on religious grounds to being touched by the female guards. They have forgone meetings with their attorneys if female guards were part of the rotation that would move them from their cells to the meeting. (more…)

Ambassador, Congressman, Law Professors & Journalist Discuss Guantanamo Bay’s Future

From left Dean and former U.S. Ambassador to Poland Lee Feinstein, Miami Herald Senior Correspondent Carol Rosenberg, Professor Edwards of The Gitmo Observer, Special Assistant to the International Criminal Court Prosecutor Professor Leila Sadat, and former Congressman Lee Hamilton who was Vice Chair of the 9-11 Commission.

From left Dean & former U.S. Ambassador to Poland Lee Feinstein, Miami Herald Senior Correspondent Carol Rosenberg (@CarolRosenberg), Professor George Edwards of The Gitmo Observer (@GitmoObserver), Special Assistant to the International Criminal Court Prosecutor Professor Professor Leila Sadat, and former Congressman Lee Hamilton who was Vice Chair of the 9-11 Commission.

The Guantanamo Bay detention facilities and U.S. Military Commissions were intensely discussed at a panel hosted by the Indiana University School of Global and International Studies.

Panelists spoke about the rationale and feasibility for closing Guantanamo’s detention facilities, how the international community views Guantanamo and its trials, insights from a journalist who has covered Guantanamo Bay since the first detainees arrived in January 2002, and measuring whether all Guantanamo Bay stakeholders’ human rights are being afforded to them.

Former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton, who was Vice-Chair of the 9-11 Commission, discussed the US government rationale for the shutting down of Guantanamo Bay and the difficulties in effecting such closure, from a Washington perspective. He described political and logistical challenges to a rapid closure.

Ms. Carol Rosenberg, who is Senior Correspondent for The Miami Herald, was in Guantanamo Bay to witness the January 2002 arrival of the first group of approximately 20 detainees, who were housed in “Camp X-Ray” wearing iconic bright orange prison. Ms. Rosenberg spoke about the history of the detention facilities, and its past, current and future challenges. She further elaborated on her perspective as a journalist assigned to the Guantanamo Bay.

Professor Leila Sadat, of the Washington University School of Law, is Henry H. Oberschelp Professor of Law and Israel Treiman Faculty Fellow, Director of the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute and the Special Adviser on Crimes Against Humanity to the ICC Prosecutor. She provided a perspective on how the international community, outside of the U.S., views Guantanamo Bay and its Military Commissions.

U.S. Ambassador to Poland (former) Lee Feinstein, who is Founding Dean of the School of Global and International Studies, provided perspective given his many years of diplomatic and international law public experience and research. Dean Feinstein moderated the panel.

Professor George Edwards is founder of The Gitmo Observer, which is also known as the Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP) of Indiana University McKinney School of Law. Professor Edwards spoke on “Assessing Human Rights Protections for All Guantanamo Bay Stakeholders, Not Just the Rights of the Defendants”.

Professor Edwards descried how he founded the Indiana University McKinney Law School’s Program in International Human Rights Law, and how the Pentagon’s Convening Authority selected that program to be granted non-governmental observer status to permit it to send representatives to Guantanamo Bay to monitor hearings in person, or to Ft. Meade to monitor via secure video feed. Professor Edwards created then created the Military Commission Observation Project, which is now known as The Gitmo Observer. He talked about The Gitmo Observer’s most recent project, the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual, which those who monitor the Guantanamo Bay proceedings and process use to determine whether a fair trial is being held.

The panel was held at the University Club, at the Indiana Memorial Union, with a reception that followed in the Faculty Room.

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