female guards

9/11 Hearings Set To Proceed

Professor Catherine Lemmer at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

Professor Catherine Lemmer at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, December 2015

There were no open hearings today, December 7, 2015, in the 9/11 case. The hearings were closed for a 505H hearing during which the prosecution, defense teams, and judge addressed a number of evidentiary issues.

One of the on-going matters the parties discussed today was the use of female guards in the detention camps. The inmates object to the use of female guards for religious reasons. The court heard, during the open session in October 2015, extensive testimony and evidence on this issue.  Despite that the court was in open session the transcript has been significantly redacted and is now labeled: “Unclassified For Public Use.” This means that the previously available information is now classified. For example, there is less than one page of transcript for the 11:16 AM to 12:28 PM session on October 30, 2015.

GITMO transcript

gitmo transcript 2

All the transcripts are available on the Military Commission site. The unofficial word is that the female guard issue will be continued in the February 2016 hearings. Judge Pohl will hear additional classified evidence at that time. Until such time, the interim order will remain in place that prohibits female guards from interacting with the defendants for purposes of “legal activities.”  For example, transporting the defendants to attorney meetings or to court.  It is an order limited to legal matters, therefore the female guards are not prohibited from interacting with the defendants in such instances as escorting them to the recreation area or for matters other than legal.

The unofficial word is that the Military Commission will conduct four days of hearings starting tomorrow morning. At that point Judge Pohl will engage in a colloquy with each defendant regarding his right to be present in the courtroom. This colloquy occurs each time the hearings are convened.

As the NGO Observers were not able to be in the courtroom, we visited the Navel Exchange (NEX) for supplies. There was a huge Christmas display in the entrance to the NEX; many of the units decorate a Christmas tree. The Christmas tree pictured above features two local wildlife — the iguana and the banana rat.

The NGO Observers were taken on a drive up on the windmill ridge. From there you could see the entire naval station. The JTF detention centers are on the other side of the island and off-limits to the NGO Observers.

By: Catherine A. Lemmer, 7 December 2015, 9/11 Hearings, Guantanamo Bay

Enroute to Guantanamo Bay for 9/11 Hearings

I arrived at Andrews Air Force Base in the dark and am all checked in. I got my ticket and had a chance to read the Andrews Gazette while waiting for the rest of the NGO Observers to arrive.

Andrews gazette

I’ve introduced myself to the other NGO Observers as they arrived and I’ve handed out the newest version of our Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual. There are seven observers this time, representing law schools, human rights and other non-profit organizations, and the private bar. I look forward to sharing conversations and learning from them this week.

Andrews Air Force Lemmer

Professor Catherine Lemmer at Andrews Air Force Base     5 December 2015

The issues before the hearing this week are of great interest — classified information, the female guard issue, the CIA interpreter issue, and the continuing conflict-of-interest issues. I was at Guantanamo Bay for the February 2015 9/11 hearings when the CIA interpreter issue stopped the hearings. I am very interested to see how that issue will be advanced.  It will also be interesting to see if the recent move by the military to open all combat positions to women will have an impact on the discussion of the female guard issue.

The chatter in the departure lounge is that the week is shaping up to be very productive.  It is sure to be an interesting and informative week.

By:  Catherine A. Lemmer, 5 December 2015, 9/11 Hearings, Guantanamo Bay

First Up: Motions on Severance & Conflict-of-Interest

gitmo picI am en route via Chicago and Washington D.C. to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for the first week of the 9/11 hearings.  The hearings are scheduled to start at 9:00 am on Monday, 9 February 2015. Judge Pohl has ordered that all five defendants must be present in court.

The first issue to be addressed during this session is reconsideration of Judge Pohl’s order of August 2014 (AE312) to sever Ramzi bin al Shibh’s case from the other four 9/11 defendants. Mr. in al Shibh’s case was severed as a result of the prosecution’s request for a competency hearing for him as well as the conflict-of-interest matter arising from FBI investigation into his defense team. If this sounds familiar, it should. These same motions were scheduled for hearing but not heard when the December 2014 hearings were cancelled over the female guard issue.

The resolution of the potential conflict-of-interest matter is a complex issue that has delayed the hearings for nearly a year. In 2014, the Military Commission concluded that there was no actual or potential conflict with respect to four of the five 9/11 defense teams. The Military Commission did conclude that there may be an actual or potential conflict with respect to the legal team representing Mr. bin al Shibh. In August, Judge Pohl ordered Independent Counsel for Mr. bin al Shibh to investigate and advise him. Lt Col Julie Pitvorek, USAF was assigned as Independent Counsel for Mr. bin al Shibh. LtCol Pitvorek will be present at the February hearings, as will Mr. Harrington and Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Bogucki, Mr. bin al Shibh’s present counsel.

In April 2014 a Special Review Team consisting of Department of Justice prosecutors was appointed to investigate the FBI’s undisclosed interviews and investigations of certain members of the 9/11 defense teams. The creation of the Special Review Team was required because General Martins’ prosecution team can not investigate the defense teams. The Special Review Team functions as the prosecution with respect to the investigation of the defense teams and whether the FBI activity created a conflict-of-interest for the defense team.  The Special Review Team was in court at the preliminary hearings in June, August, and October on behalf of the prosecution. These prosecutors will be in court for the February hearings to represent the government for the three pleadings that will be heard by Judge Pohl related to these matters.  Should these matters be resolved, the parties will move on to the many other matters scheduled for argument in the following weeks.

The matters before the Military Commission are legally and factually complex. It makes it challenging for NGO Observers tasked with observing, analyzing, and reporting on whether the military commissions are open, transparent, and providing fair trials to the defendants.  It is important that we focus on our specific role in the process. The Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual is a great tool to help us do so.

The matters scheduled on the docket include:

AE 312C Defense Response to Emergency Government Motion to Reconsider AE 302 Severance Order The order severing Mr. bin al Shibh is currently in abeyance (temporarily suspended). The judge may revoke the order, sever Mr. bin al Shibh, or continue to hold it in abeyance.)

AE 292RR Prosecution Special Review Team Motion for Reconsideration of AE 292QQ (Order) (Prosecution Special Review Team seeks to have Judge Pohl reconsider his decision that there may be a potential conflict within Mr. bin al Shibh’s defense counsel.)

AE 292VV Defense Motion to Compel Discovery Related to Interference with Defense Function by the United States.  (The defense asks Judge Pohl to compel the Prosecution’s Special Review Team to provide the evidence related to the FBI’s investigations of the defense teams. )

AE 292YY Defense Motion for Appropriate Relief-Disclosure by Military Judge Whether He has Acquired Information Relating to the Case from an Undisclosed Source and the Details of the Information (The defense asks Judge Pohl to disclose what information he has about the FBI investigation that has not been provided to the defense.)

AE152 Prosecution Motion for R.M.C. 909 Hearing (The prosecution asks the Commission to establish the competency of Ramzi bin al Shibh to stand trial.)

AE 254KK Prosecution Government Motion For an Expedited Litigation Schedule to Resolve AE 254Y (The prosecution requests oral argument relating to the issue of female guards in contact positions with defendants.)

AE 331 Military Commission Judge Trial Conduct Order (The military judge ordered the government to review the Protective Order regarding classified information and sealed pleadings in light of the release of the Torture Report.)

AE 008 Defense Motion to Dismiss for Defective Referral (The defense position is that the Convening Authority did not charge the defendants properly.)

AE 031 Defense Motion to Dismiss for Unlawful Influence (The defense position is that the President of the United States put pressure on the Convening Authority to bring the case against the defendants.)

AE 192 Defense Motion to Disqualify (The defense position is that the Legal Advisor to the Convening Authority unlawfully interfered with the professional judgment of the Chief Defense Counsel and Mr. al Hawsawi’s Learned  Counsel.)

AE 196 Defense Motion to Disqualify (The defense position is that the Chief of Operations for the Convening Authority unlawfully interfered with the professional judgment of the Chief Defense Counsel and Mr. al Hawsawi’s Learned Counsel.)

AE 254 Defense Emergency Defense Motion to Permit Attorney-Client Meetings (The defense position is that JTF-GTMO is interfering with attorney-client visits.)

AE 112 Defense Motion to Compel White House and DOJ policy on Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program (The defense seeks to compel discovery about the policies underlying the CIA rendition, detention, and interrogation program.)

AE 114 Defense Motion to Compel Information regarding Buildings in Which Defendants May Have Been Confined (The defense asks the prosecution to produce evidence about any facility where the defendants were held.)

AE 182 Defense Motion to Possess and Resume Use of a Microsoft-Enabled Laptop Computer (The defense asks that the defendants have access to standalone computers to work on their defenses.)

AE 183 Defense Motion for Telephonic Access for Effective Assistance of Counsel (The defense asks to be able to communicate by telephone with the defendants.)

AE 195 Defense Motion to Compel Production of Communications Between Government (The defense seeks information about government involvement with the movie Zero Dark and Filmmakers of Zero Dark Thirty.)

AE 206 Defense (Mohammed) Motion to Cease Daily Intrusive Searches of Living Quarters and Person (The defense wants the prison to use less intrusive means to search for physical contraband.)

AE 036E Prosecution Motion to Clarify Order AE036D (The prosecution asks the Judge to order that the prosecution has control over all witnesses, including remote testimony.)

AE 036G Defense Motion to Compel Discovery (The defense wants the Judge to compel discovery on government policy of producing witnesses.)

AE 036H Defense Motion to Compel Witnesses (The defense wants the Judge to compel witnesses on prosecution statements regarding costs of producing witnesses.)

AE 214 Defense Motion to Compel access to Government of Saudi Arabia. (The defense requests that the Military Commission compel the Secretary of Defense to facilitate communications between Mr. Hawsawi and Saudi Arabia.)

AE 119 Defense Motion to Dismiss and to Compel a Status Determination Pursuant to Article 5 of the Geneva Conventions (The defense asserts that there is a question as to the status of the defendants under Article 5 of the Geneva Conventions and charges should be dismissed.)

AE 164 Defense Motion to Stay all Review Under 10 U.S.C. § 949-4 and to Declare 10 U.S.C. §949p-4(c) and M.C.R.E. 505(f)(3) Unconstitutional and In Violation of UCMJ and Geneva Conventions (The defense argues that the Commission’s decision to permit trial counsel to substitute, summarize, withhold, or prevent access to classified information is unconstitutional.)

AE 018W Joint Defense Motion to Amend AE 018U Privileged Written Communications Order (The defense argues that interpretations of the provisions in the written communication order are restricting attorney-client communications and should be amended to protect the rights to effective assistance of counsel and to prepare and participate in own defense.)

AE 018BB Defense (WBA) Motion to Compel Paper Discovery in Accordance with Privileged Written Communications Order (The defense requests that the Commission order the government to provide a duplicate copy of all paper discovery materials releasable to Mr. bin ‘Attash.)

AE 018MM Defense Motion to Compel Reasonable Privilege Review Team Hours of Operation (The defense requests that the Commission order the Privilege Review Team (PRT) to maintain reasonable weekend hours at all times; or at a minimum, maintain weekend hours for processing materials immediately prior and to and following hearings, or when there are approved attorney-client visits.)

AE 161 Defense (AAA) Motion to Require the Government to Comply with MCRE 506 Regarding redaction of Unclassified Discovery (The defense argues the Commission should order the prosecution to produce the complete, unredacted copies of certain unclassified discovery documents under Military Commissions Rule of  Evidence 506.)

AE 190 Defense (AAA) Motion to Compel Production of Information Relating to Statements Made by Mr. al Baluchi or Potential Witnesses at a Detention Facility Classified Motion AE 191 Defense (AAA) Motion to Compel Production of Information  Classified Motion AE 194 Defense (AAA) Motion to Compel Discovery of Mr. al Baluchi’s Statements (The defense requests that the military judge compel production of all records of all statements made by Mr. al Baluchi in the government’s possession

(Catherine Lemmer, 9/11 Hearings, Guantanamo Bay February 9-13, 2015)

What’s Really at Issue with Female Guards touching #Guantanamo Bay Detainees

Camp signThe main issue that was argued the last week of January was whether or not a female guard should be permitted to have contact with a detainee.  Practical concerns were raised in regards to religion.  With Islam, it is taboo to be touched by a female that a man is not related to or married to.  Several witnesses were called, including the female guard at issue.  Steps were taken to preserve her anonymity and there was no personally identifiable information that was given about her.  She testified as to how her job required her to handle the detainee.  Arguments were made that went to whether or not allowing females to touch detainees would hinder that females’ advancement in her career, whether or not the defendant’s religious views were being violated, whether or not suitable male replacements could easily be found, etc.

I think the real issue, that was never broached, is whether the commission actually has the jurisdiction to rule on this matter with regards to general handling while in custody down at Gitmo.  This hinges on how broadly the court interprets the defense’s request for touching to cease.  Defense tried to argue for all touching, period, to cease.  The judge cannot rule on what happens outside of court related proceedings, and even then, how far does his authority reach?  Does it apply to court related medical exams?  Transfers from the detention facility to the court holding facilities prior to coming into the court room?  Anything further is speculation and a ruling has not been handed down yet by the judge, but I will definitely be interested to see how this comes out.

(Margaret Baumgartner, Hadi al Iraqi Hearings, January 25-31, 2015) 

Last Hearing Option Cancelled – Listening to Both Sides: First Up the Prosecution

The NGO observers had a sliver of hope that we would see actual court proceedings when we learned on Sunday that Walter Ruiz, attorney for Mustafa al Hawsawi one of  9-11 detainees, had filed a motion for a hearing to obtain medical care for his client. The motion alleged that Mr. al Hawsawi was thrown to the ground and shackled on December 7 due to a misunderstanding as to whether he was to return to his cell or to the recreation area. However the Judge (Army Col. James L. Pohl) denied the request. The next hearings for the 9-11 detainees are docketed for February 9.

Given the lack of court proceedings, the NGO observers pushed for meetings with the defense and prosecution teams. The meeting were scheduled around the various 802 conferences and client meetings.

BG_Mark_Martins

Brigadier General Mark S. Martins

We met first with Brigadier General Mark S. Martins, the chief prosecutor, and three members of his team. Prior to the meeting we were provided with his 13 December 2014 prepared remarks. The prepared remarks addressed the release of the Torture Report. It was Brigadier General Martins’ opinion that the Torture Report will not disrupt or derail the Military Commission process. Rather, the release of previously classified information will speed discovery for the defense. He reiterated in his prepared remarks that the prosecution will not introduce as evidence statements obtained through torture.

Brigadier General Martins began the session by introducing his staff and referring us to his prepared comments. He noted that he would not discuss the female guard issue nor the FBI conflict-of-interest issue; the latter because he had walled himself off from this issue. He then went on to answer our questions and provide information.

As in his prepared remarks, Brigadier General Martins discussed the prosecutions’s intent not to use evidence obtained through torture. He noted that it is imperative that the people see the government’s case. This is not possible if the prosecution uses classified information. Ironically, his intent doesn’t seem to be shared by some other powers in the government — for example, those entities fighting the release of the remaining torture materials. (more…)

9-11 Hearings Halted Due to Female Guard Issue

DSC_0212-001 - Copy

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)

18 and 19 November Military Commissions Events at Guantanamo Bay – Hattie Harman