I finally arrived at Andrews Air Force Base for my flight to Guantanamo Bay for the USS Cole Bombing hearings against al Nashiri. It is very chilly this morning (Sunday the 1st), but I’m told that better temperatures await ahead.
Today I learned that what is now Andrews dates back to the Civil War, when the Union used a local country as its headquarters, and that church is still used by the Andrews community today, in 2015.
The base first became operational as Camp Springs on 2 May 1943, and was officially named Andrews Field in 1945. (I guess there was no Air Force during the Civil War, and no need for the word “field” to be part of the base’s name then.) In October 2009, Andrews Air Force Base and the Naval Air Facility in Washington were joined as the Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility Washington (or “Joint Base Andrews”) (Joint Base Andrews History Factsheets).
At Andrews Air Force Base check in counter. IIU McKinney LL.M. graduate Avril Pitt Rua (left) with Affie Ellis from the American Bar Association (ABA).
All the NGOs representatives, except for two who cancelled at the last minute, met at the Andrews’ Gate. With us are representatives from the American Bar Association, Duke University, the National Institute of Military Justice, Pacific Council of International Policy, Georgetown University School of Law, Judicial Watch, Human Rights First and the New York City Bar Association. We all met with our escorts, did introductions and shared interesting facts about ourselves. I am excited to meet all of them individually. One of them, from Human Rights First, is so far very impressed with the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manualthat we in the Indiana University McKinney School of Law Military Commission Observation Project have been researching and writing. I will be chatting more with him and other on our flight.
I know that one of the sections of the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manualdeals with rights and interests of NGO Observers. Yes, we NGO representatives have interests too. For example, we have an interest in being able to do what we are sent to do, and that is attend, observe, analyze, critique and disseminate information about the GTMO Military Commissions. I hope that we NGOs on this trip will be permitted resources and access able to accomplish our NGO goals.
9/11 lead defendant Khalid Shaik Mohammad (KSM), in the Guantanamo Bay courtroom. KSM was waterboarded 183 times in 2003.* (Sketch by Janet Hamlin)
I am scheduled to monitor Guantanamo Bay military commission proceedings in the case against five alleged masterminds of the 9/11 airplane attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The lead 9/11 case defendant is Khalid Shaik Mohammad (KSM).
First, I will travel to Ft. Meade, Maryland, where Guantanamo Bay courtroom proceedings are simultaneously transmitted by secure video link. Then, I will travel to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where I will be in the courtroom itself, with the judges, defense, prosecutors, media, victims and their families, and the 5 defendants. These hearings, scheduled for 9 – 21 February 2014, will address pre-trial legal issues. The trials may not begin until 2016 or later.
Monitoring Guantanamo Bay trials
The Pentagon has said it wants military commissions to be open and transparent. They want Guantanamo Bay trials to be fair, and they want independent outsiders to monitor the proceedings and assess this fairness. This is consistent with the U.S. statutory requirement that these proceedings shall be publicly held, and that they operate in accordance with international and domestic law mandates for open and fair trials.
The Pentagon selected a handful of non-governmental organizations to send monitors to Guantanamo Bay. In 2014, the Pentagon granted NGO Observer status to the human rights program I had founded at Indiana University McKinney School of Law. I then founded our Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP), which has morphed into The Gitmo Observer.
Gitmo Observermissions include to attend, observer, analyze, critique and report on Guantanamo Bay proceedings. Numerous IU McKinney observers have traveled to Ft. Meade and Guantanamo Bay to monitor proceedings, and have published on their observations. Also we are publishing the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual, which examines rights and interests of all stakeholders of the proceedings. The Guantanamo defendants have rights and interests. But other stakeholders also have rights and interests. These stakeholders include the prosecution, victims and their families, witnesses, and the press. The Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manualidentifies the binding international and domestic law that provides for these rights and interests, and guides stakeholders as to which rights and interests they are entitled, and discusses enforcement and remedies.
Issues February 9/11 hearing
All the issues docketed for the February 9/11 hearings deal with stakeholder rights, principally pre-trial and trial rights of the defendants. They also include U.S. government rights related to national security, rights of female Guantanamo Bay guards to freedom from employment discrimination based on sex, and rights of the international community regarding U.S. compliance with international law.
Right to trial without undue delay (“inordinate” delays of the proceedings)
Rights related to mental competency of a defendant to stand trial
The right to counsel (right to not have the FBI interfere with a defendant’s defense team)
Conflict of interest rights
U.S. national security rights and interests
Access to information (discovery, classified information rights, use of information from undisclosed sources)
Rights of female guards to perform same duties as male guards regarding, for example, shackling and escorting defendants (employment discrimination)
Right to free exercise of religion (male Muslim defendants being touched by female guards)
Right to counsel (defendants not meeting with lawyers because of female guards touching them)
Right to trial by an independent tribunal (with no unlawful interference or influence)
Right to non-interference with professional judgment of the defense lawyers (right to counsel)
Rights related to torture and access to information (Senate report on torture)
Right to conditions of pre-trial confinement (including privacy rights, intrusive searches)
Right to access to the outside world (defendants’ telephonic access to families)
Right to facilities to prepare a defense (including access to computers)
Right to access to witnesses
A defendant’s right to access representatives of his government
Rights under the Geneva Conventions
Rights under the U.S. Constitution
The 26 January 2015 docketing order can be found here.
IU McKinney Affiliates traveling to Guantanamo Bay in February 2015
Professor Catherine Lemmer, IU McKinney School of Law
Catherine Lemmer, who is a lawyer and international librarian at the faculty of Indiana University McKinney School of Law and who has played instrumental roles in the development of the Gitmo Observer, is scheduled to travel to Guantanamo Bay for 9 -13 February hearings. She was at Guantanamo Bay in December 2014 for hearings in that same case. Professor Lemmer has played instrumental roles as library liaison to the Gitmo Observer, and as a developer of the Gitmo Observer website, briefing materials, and project policies. She has also undertaken to help develop the NGO Observer Library, which will be a functioning resource center for NGO Observers to use while they are on missions to Guantanamo Bay to monitor hearings.
Tom Wilson, who is a lawyer and law professor at the IU McKinney School of Law, is scheduled to travel to Guantanamo Bay during the week of 23 – 27 February 2015 to monitor the case against al Nashiri, who is alleged to have masterminded the 2000 suicide attack against the USS Cole, a U.S. Naval ship that was docked off the coast of Yemen, and that killed and wounded numerous U.S. sailors.
Professor Wilson, in preparing for his first mission, will be posting his preliminary observations on the Gitmo Observer blog very soon!
Are you interested in travel to Ft. Meade or Guantanamo Bay?
IU McKinney School of Law students, faculty, staff and graduates are eligible to be considered for travel to Ft. Meade and Guantanamo Bay through the Gitmo Observer. Registration forms are available on our website.
IU McKinney Law School Dean Andy Klein is expected to travel to Ft. Meade, Maryland to monitor military commission trials during the Spring 2015.
*Khalid Shaik Mohammad’s waterboarding is widely reported, including in the Miami Herald, which cites Justice Department and CIA reports
Professor George Edwards (left) with Chuck Dunlap, and IU McKinney graduate who traveled to Guantanamo Bay and Ft. Meade, sitting behind Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manuals Mr. Dunlap delivered to Guantanamo Bay (Fall 2014)
Luke Bielawski, who is a recent graduate of the Indiana University McKinney School of Law, recently traveled to the military base at Ft. Meade, Maryland to monitor the Guantanamo Bay hearings in the U.S.S. Cole case, with one of the defendants being al Nashiri. At Ft. Meade, the hearings are broadcast live via a secure video-link. We are re-posting some of his photos that demonstrate his excitement and enthusiasm about his Mission. More reports by Luke can be found elsewhere on this Military Commission Observation Project (MCPO) Blog. If any other IU McKinney students, faculty, staff of graduates wish to travel to Ft. Meade or Guantanamo Bay on a MCOP Mission, please follow this link and register: MCOP Registration.
Packing for my week at Fort Meade for the Guantanamo Bay Hearings
Even though I’m not in the court room at Gitmo, I’m still representing McKinney Law School and Indiana, so I want to look my best!
Waiting for departure…
ALMOST everything I’ve learned about the GTMO proceedings has come from popular media outlets. I’m excited to get a first hand view on what is going on. A bit ironic that the news right before I boarded was covering the War on Terror and Al’Qaeda