Jeff Papa

Hadi al Iraqi’s First Guantanamo Bay Pre-Trial Hearing – Jeff Papa

Jeff Papa at Camp Justice, holding Indiana folder.

Jeff Papa at Guantanamo Bay’s Camp Justice, before hearings opened today in the war crimes case against Hadi al Iraqi.

Hadi al Iraqi was arraigned at Guantanamo Bay on 18 June 2014 for war crimes allegedly perpetrated in Iraq and other countries when he was a senior member of al Qaeda Iraq and liaison with the Taliban.

Hadi’s first pre-trial hearing was set to begin today at 9:00 a.m., but was delayed until 1:30 p.m. The judge noted that in conference the previous afternoon, the defense had asked for a delay until 1:00 for Hadi to meet his new counsel, whom Hadi would have met for the first time.  Defense had then asked for an additional 30 minutes to accommodate prayers.


Just before the hearing began, I could see Hadi and his defense team through the soundproof window that separates the inner courtroom from the public gallery, where the NGOs sit in assigned seats. In addition to myself, 8 other NGOs representatives were present for today’s (more…)

Hadi al Iraqi Hearing commences at GTMO – Jeff Papa

Jeff Papa at Camp Justice, holding Indiana folder.

Jeff Papa at Camp Justice, holding folder with an Indiana logo.

Jeff Papa reported that the Hadi al Iraqi hearing commenced today at 1330 (Monday, 15 September 2014). Due to erratic internet connections, he could not send in his commentary on the hearing. He was able to send this photo. He promises more later.

My First Afternoon at Guantanamo Bay (Jeff Papa)

Jeff Papa - At Camp Justice - GTMO - 14 September 2014

“Camp Justice” is the name of the barracks-like Tent City where NGOs are housed at Guantanamo Bay. Immediately to my left, out of the camera’s view, is the court house complex.

  Andrews Air Force Base – Early Sunday Morning

The military instructed us to arrive at Andrews Air Force Base no later than 0630 this morning for our 10 am flight to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

There was some confusion since the address given for the Andrews Visitor Center was apparently wrong. Several of the nine Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) representatives traveling with us arrived at the Andrews main gate, and got turned back. One of our escorts arrived at 6:30 and transported us to the air terminal on the base.

Flying to Guantanamo

As those familiar with the GTMO process know, the planes to Guantanamo contain many different categories of participants, including the presiding officers, defense counsel, prosecution, victims’ family members, NGO representatives, and the media. Today was no different. We met several of these people, including Carol Rosenburg of the Miami Herald who routinely covers GITMO proceedings (she mentioned Indiana’s own Justice Steve David, who served here previously).

The flight to Guantanamo was a little over three hours. The weather on arrival was perfect – blue sky and temperatures in the 80s.

This is my bed for the next few days at Guantanamo Bay. They keep the tents very cold to discourage insects, banana rats and iguanas.

This is my bed for the next few days at Guantanamo Bay. They keep the tents very cold to discourage bugs, banana rats and iguanas.

We took a ferry from the airfield across the bay to the main base area and were escorted to our quarters – barracks-like tents kept ice cold to discourage bugs, banana rats and iguanas from intruding.

No more WiFi.

Unfortunately, a change in access now prevents non-military persons (like the NGOs) from accessing WiFi in the area where our tents are. No mainland U.S. wireless carriers function here. We also have no access to Cuban carriers.

We received photo identification badges that give us access to the courtroom. We then visited the Navy Exchange store for supplies. Still no WiFi was available.

We finally found a restaurant with extremely slow WiFi some distance away – but too slow to upload or download much more than email (thus no photos with this posting, at least not today).

front cover - Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Checklist

Front cover of Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Checklist. It has been well-received at Guantanamo Bay.

 Sunday Afternoon Business

Prosecution and defense counsel met with the judge this afternoon to review the schedule for this week’s hearing. It is rumored that tomorrow’s hearing may start late as defense counsel is transitioning and the accused, Hadi al Iraqi, has not yet met the incoming counsel.

Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Checklist a “Must Have”

The newest draft of the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Checklist prepared by Professor George Edwards and his law students at the Indiana University McKinney School of Law has been well-received by the other NGO representatives (a very diverse group). I believe the Checklist is quickly becoming the “must have” guide for NGOs observing GITMO proceedings.

NB:  Update just in… Hearings will not begin until 1300 hours tomorrow (Monday afternoon, instead of 9:00 in the morning as scheduled). And a few photos made it through the slow internet connection.

Jeff Papa - Camp Justice Sign - long one -- GTMO -- 14 September 2014

Another view of the front of Camp Justice.


Preparing to Travel to Guantanamo Bay (Jeff Papa)

front cover - Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial ChecklistIntroduction

I am scheduled to travel to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for pre-trial hearings beginning Monday, 15 September 2014. I have reviewed many documents related to the case I will monitor – against alleged senior al Qaeda in Iraq official named Hadi al Iraqi, who is said to have been a liaison with the Taliban. Hadi al Iraqi’s charge sheet is posted here on the Gitmo Observer website, where other basic Military Commission documents can be found.

My role is as an “NGO Observer”, sent to monitor the proceedings and determine for myself whether, based on the law and my observations of facts, I believe that stakeholders are receiving a fair trial. My most important tool for preparing for this mission is the newly launched Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Checklist, which provides a framework for me to conduct monitoring.

The Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Checklist

I have read and re-read the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Checklist, which is an innovative document created by Professor George Edwards, the Founding Director of the Program in International Human Rights Law (PIHRL) of the Indiana University McKinney School of Law. Edwards is also the founder of The Gitmo Observer – also known as the U.S. Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP) of the PIHRL.

Volume I of the Checklist identifies a list of right for stakeholders during pre-trial hearings. While this document will be further developed by PIHRL students at the McKinney Law School, the current version includes a comprehensive list of rights for victims, victim’s families, the accused, the prosecution, the press, and witnesses. The Checklist is very easy to use, and should be utilized by any observer of commission proceedings, whether they want to quickly learn basic facts or want to study in great detail a particular hearing.

The Checklist contains sources of domestic U.S. and international law for reference, and provides easy to understand, but comprehensive, checklists for each possible right, as well as general background information. If you review available background information about a particular hearing you will monitor, and then reading through this Checklist step by step, you will gain a very deep understanding of the issues involved, as well as the likely legal arguments, strengths and weaknesses of each party’s position.

An Objective / Neutral Source

The Checklist provides an objective, neutral framework for analyzing the commission proceedings. The Checklist will become the standard document for those new to commission observation, as well as for seasoned experts.

Checklist Volume 1

Volume I of the Checklist  covers pre-trial hearing stage issues, as that is the current stage of the most Guantanamo Bay proceedings today. But many of the Checklist considerations are entirely relevant to other phases (pre-hearing, trial & judgment, and post-trial/post-judgment). Future Volumes of the Checklist are planned to cover these remaining phases in a comprehensive manner.

In the 2014 summer, I traveled to Ft. Meade, Maryland to observe a different Military Commission hearing. I did not have the benefit of the Checklist , which had not yet been created. I read many documents for the earlier proceeding. I wish I had had the Checklist then. In preparing for my hearings at Guantanamo Bay next week, I appreciate that the Checklist is well-organized and clarifies the issues in my mind, and provides a very logical flow regarding what issues are likely to arise in a particular proceeding.

This Checklist  will become the standard for reviewing commission proceedings. Following the Checklist through its stages is easy to follow, and ensures that all issues are covered. The references to source law and rights within the document is also extremely helpful.

The full name of the Checklist  is  the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Checklist for U.S. Military Commission Participants and Observers: A Guide for Assessing Human Rights Protections for the Prosecution and the Defense, Victims and Victims’ Families, Witnesses, the Press, NGO Observers, and Other Military Commission Stakeholders.

A copy of the current draft of this excellent resource can be found at

Charges Against Abd al Hadi al Iraqi (Jeff Papa)

Hadi al Iraqi

Hadi al Iraqi

The Latest Guantanamo Bay Charges

On 18 June 2014, the Military Commissions arraigned Abd al Hadi al Iraqi on a number of charges. Hadi al Iraqi’s first pre-trial (pre-commission) hearings are scheduled to be held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba 15 – 16 September 2014.

I have been selected to travel to Guantanamo Bay as an NGO Observer for these hearings next month. I will be representing the Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP) of the Indiana University McKinney School of Law. (We are also known at The Gitmo Observer“).

Charges Against Hadi al Iraqi

Specific allegations against Hadi al-Iraqi  fall within five general charges. These are highlighted and summarized below.

Charge I: Violation of 10 USC 950t(6), Denying Quarter

The government alleges that Al Hadi directed forces under his control in Afghanistan and Pakistan that there should be no survivors allowed and that all hostilities should conclude with no opposing survivors, even if practicable to accept surrender.

Charge II: Violation of 10 USC 950t(4), Attacking Protected Property.

The government alleges that Al Hadi intentionally attacked a medical helicopter, which was clearly marked as medical and protected (more…)

Training to Monitor Trials at Guantanamo Bay

MCOP - Pre-Departure - 11 April 2014 - Classroom shot

IU McKinney Law Affiliates During Briefing to Monitor Guantanamo Bay trials. Some in the photo are members of Professor Edwards’ Spring 2014 International Law class that studied the international law aspects of the 9-11 attacks, other crimes, and jurisdiction to try such crimes.

Guantanamo Bay Briefing

This photo is the of  first group of Indiana University McKinney Law School Affiliates to be part of a Pre-Departure Briefing for monitoring US Military Commission hearings.

The Pentagon awarded IU McKinney’s Program in International Human Rights Law (PIHRL) special “NGO Observer Status” permitting the PIHRL (pronounced “Pearl”) to send IU McKinney Affiliates (students, faculty, staff and graduates) to monitor hearings at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba or at Ft. Meade, Maryland. The training of this first group took place in Indianapolis at the law school on Friday, 11 April 2014.

MCOP Briefing Book; Geneva Conventions

The MCOP Briefing Book — About 2000 pages on Military Commission law and practice. Participants were also provided copies of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the Protocols Additional.

In the picture are four IU Affiliates who traveled to Ft. Meade in April for hearings in the 9-11 World Trade Center bombing case and the 2000 U.S.S. Cole bombing case. Also pictured are two IU Affiliates who traveled to Guantanamo Bay for hearings in both those cases in April.

Mr. Rick Kammen (center of photo with jeans and light top), who is a lawyer for defendant al Nashiri in the USS Cole Case, lectured on the history of U.S. Military Commissions, substantive and procedural law related to the Guantanamo Bay Military Commissions, litigation strategies, and the logistical difficulties associated with trying cases at a base on an island, away from the Mainland U.S.

Those pictured whose mission was to Ft. Meade are Jeffrey Kerner, Jeff Papa, and Hattie Harman.

Judge Pat Riley (Indiana Court of Appeals) is pictured behing Rick Kammen’s right shoulder.

Professor George Edwards (PIHRL Founding Director & MCOP Founding Director) appears at the far right of the photo.

Absent from the photo above are Jeff Meding (who was in Washington DC for his flight from Andrews Air Force Base to GTMO the next day) and Luke Bielawski, who went to Ft. Meade. Luke is in the photo below.

Briefing Book

Left to right: Luke Bielawski (Ft. Meade – USS Cole), Jeffrey Werner (Ft. Meade – 9-11), George Edwards (Ft. Meade – USS Cole; Guantanamo Bay – US v. David Hicks), Judge Patricia Riley (Guantanamo Bay – USS Cole), Jeff Papa (Ft. Meade – USS Cole) & Hattie Harman (Ft. Meade – 9-11). Absent is Jeff Meding (Guantanamo Bay – 9-11, who was en route to Andrews Air Force Base for his flight to GTMO)

Left to right: Luke Bielawski (Ft. Meade,  USS Cole), Jeffrey Werner (Ft. Meade, 9-11), George Edwards (Ft. Meade, USS Cole; Guantanamo Bay, US v David Hicks), Judge Patricia Riley (Guantanamo Bay, USS Cole), Jeff Papa (Ft. Meade, USS Cole) & Hattie Harman (Ft. Meade, 9-11). Absent is Jeff Meding (Guantanamo Bay, 9-11, who was en route to Andrews for his GTMO flight)

The  Pre-Departure Briefing Book of the MCOP was compiled by Mr. Jeff Meding, Ms. Qifan Wang, Ms. Kristin Brockett, and Professor George Edwards. For each cycle of hearings, a Supplementary Briefing Book will be prepared and distributed to all participants. A copy of our Briefing Book is now permanently housed in the NGO Observer Compound at Guantanamo Bay for subsequent McKinney Affiliates and others to use on their Missions to GTMO for hearings or trials.

Should USS Cole Jury Be Sequestered on Guantanamo Bay?

Sequestering the Jury on Guantanamo Bay?
The USS Cole trial, which is tentatively scheduled to begin in a military courtroom at Guantanamo Bay in October 2014, could last for 9 to 12 months. The military commission that will try the case will have a pool of 37 “members” (jurors) to choose from who will act like jurors in a typical criminal case.

A judge may sequester a jury for multiple reasons, with one reason being to try to avoid “jury contamination”, including jurors being exposed to information about the case that is not officially entered into evidence in the case. Contamination might occur in many different ways, including from watching television or reading newspaper reports, or from overhearing conversations of people involved with the case.

In yesterday’s hearing, the defense made the point that in a normal trial the jurors would spread out to their individual offices and homes over many square miles, and would have very little chance of accidental contact. But in this case, once the 37 possible members (jurors) arrive at Guantanamo, serious questions of jury contamination could occur.

Unique Nature of Guantanamo
Mr. Rick Kammen, who is a lawyer for one of the USS Cole defendants (al Nashiri) spoke at our MCOP Pre-Departure Briefing. He noted that due to the unique nature of Guantanamo, air transport to Cuba is limited. Any plane that carries people to Guantanamo for the hearings and trial might contain a mix of trial participants (meaning a mix on the same flight), including, for example, trial counsel (prosecution), defense counsel, witnesses, victims’ family members, legal experts, government personnel, NGO Observers, and others involved with the military commissions.

Once at Guantanamo, the small spaces and facilities create a parallel danger of possible contamination.

This raises interesting issues of accidental or purposeful cross-talk or other improper influence.

Defense Requests
The defense asked the judge to prohibit jurors / member from access to certain items, such as newspapers and other periodicals, and that members sequestration be considered.

This is a daunting request for many reasons, including that it is said that the trial may last 9-12 months.

There would certainly be accidental contact, according to defense, and the extraordinary conditions call for extraordinary measures. The government chose this forum. The 37 potential members were selected by the commission and are service members, so one can assume the Commission took into account where this proceeding will take place and these are not civilians; they are military men and women who are accustomed to being away from friends and family for extended periods.

Counter arguments include that the members will all be military officers, and they will be able to follow all instructions of the judge, including instructions to avoid media reports about the case, outside conversation about the case, or other possible taints. This is so even if members are permitted to return to their duty stations in the U.S. or elsewhere during any breaks in the trial.

Judge’s Resolution
To resolve this issue for the day, the judge determined that by one month prior to completion of the member / jury voir dire (the pre-trial process involving the selection of the portion of the 37 person panel that will hear the case), a housing plan for the members / jurors will be determined.

Reprisals? (Ft. Meade – 22 April 2014)

Jeff Papa attends U.S.S. Cole al Nashiri Military Commission hearing broadcasted from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to the Post Theater at Ft. Meade, Maryland.

Jeff Papa attends  U.S. Military Commission (Guantanamo Bay) hearings in the case involving the alleged masterminds of the U.S.S. Cole bombing. The hearings are live at Gitmo & by secure videolink to the Post Theater on the military base at Ft. Meade, Maryland.

Today’s hearings were on the case of  the alleged masterminds of the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, a naval ship harbored in Yemen in 2000. Judge Pat Riley (Indiana Court of Appeals) from our team is in Guantanamo Bay, sitting in the courtroom. Luke Bielawski and I are at Ft. Meade, Maryland, watching the Guantanamo proceedings on secure videolink.

What’s on for Today? A Question of Reprisals

The Commission hearings covered several interesting issues today. The most interesting issue was the last item discussed.

The defense has requested information about third party civilian deaths and collateral damage caused by US or coalition forces in order to consider a defense of reprisal.

Judge Pohl began by pointing out that the government alleges that reprisal is only a defense if the defendant is a state actor. The defense agreed, but reserved the right to argue that Nashiri is a state actor. The defense claimed that this is relevant to his state of mind and any ability to participate in the governments alleged far-flung conspiracy. This could show extenuation and mitigation.

Judge Pohl followed up on this by asking if you would have to show that the defendant knew about these very specific actions or just that he knew (more…)

Interesting Hill Article

Very interesting to read a reporter’s writing of occurrences, having had the benefit of Mr. Kammen’s lecture as well as the blog posts relayed by our observers watching the proceedings and reporting directly:

Pre-Departure – Jeff Papa – Going to Ft. Meade for USS Cole Hearings

Going to Ft. Meade — USS Cole Case

I will be attending the Guantanamo Bay hearings that are being simultaneously broadcast from GTMO to at Ft. Meade, Maryland next Tuesday and Wednesday. I know very little about the details of these proceedings, other than many I learned from media reports and from good general information I learned from Andrew Northern in my National Security Law course.
Pre-Departure Briefing
Last Friday, we had the opportunity to participate in a Pre-Departure Mission before we set out for our respective sites, Guantanamo Bay for some, and for other like myself, Ft. Meade, Maryland.

We were fortunate to have as our primary Briefing Mr. Rick Kammen, who is an Indianapolis attorney, who is the death penalty counsel in the USS Cole case, which happens to be the case I will be monitorin.

Mr. Kammen described in a very compelling fashion over the course of a few hours the point of view of the defense team and many of the difficulties encountered. He also provided a great basis for critical thinking about the process, pro and con.

This opportunity was extremely valuable, and together with the very extensive briefing book prepared by Professor Edwards’ Program in International Human Rights Law (PIHRL), I believe I will have an outstanding basis from which to begin viewing and thinking about the proceedings next week.