(This article by Marilyn Odendahl was originally published on 4 June 2014 in The Indiana Lawyer at this link) Sitting in a hotel room, preparing to watch a video cast of a hearing with Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, one of the alleged masterminds behind the bombing of the USS Cole, Whitney Coffin considered the process of using military commissions to try suspected terrorists. “Before I actually see the hearing, my pre-impression is this is the best way to do it,” Coffin, a 2014 graduate of Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, said. “Some push to put this in federal courts, but what state is (more…)
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.
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.
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.
Indiana Judge Speaks While Heading To Guantanamo Bay
Judge Patritica Riley (Indiana Court of Appeals) sent the following note in on Easter Monday, 21 April 2014, when she was waiting at Andrews Air Force Base for her flight to Guantanamo Bay. She will be monitoring hearings in the U.S. Military Commission case of 5 defendants accused of masterminding the attack on the USS Cole, a US naval ship docked in Yemen in 2000. That suicide attack killed 17 US sailors and injured over 30 other service personnel on the ship.
Judge Riley’s mission to GTMO (or Gitmo) is through the Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP) of the Indiana University McKinney School of Law’s Program in International Human Rights Law (PIHRL) (pronounced “Pearl”), which was founded by Professor George Edwards in 1997. The Pentagon granted the PIHRL “NGO Observer Status”, which permits the program to send McKinney students, faculty, staff and graduates to monitor the Military Commissions.
Following are Judge Riley’s words from Andrews Air Force Base:
“Waiting at Andrews for the plane to take us to Guantanamo Bay. It is a normal waiting area but everyone is going to GITMO and each has a different role. The victims and/or their families are here by lottery and may be sitting next to a member of the defense team. The prosecutors may be sitting next to the observers from different NGOs. Until we get to the base the roles each person will play are not talked about except in very general terms.
I’ve talked to Cassandra Adams who is a professor/mediator from Birmingham, Alabama who is a DIVO, defense initiated victim for outreach. She will be sitting in an area designated for observers and is not able to approach the victims directly. She is available if they need support
Dr. Susan Cosby, Boston,Mass, is here as a specialist for prisoners who have been tortured. She has met with al-Nashiri on three different occasions.
I’m having coffee with Rick Kammen from the defense team. They have all gathered together, as old friends would, getting caught up with matters that have popped up at the last minute. There is a lot of chatter but I feel the underlying tension building as they each refer to the job ahead with seriousness and respect for each other’s roles.
Carol Rosenberg, reporter from Miami Herald,and only news reporter here, just told me that there is no wireless connection and you must pay $150/wk for an Ethernet connection that doesn’t work half the time. I can register my device at the library and it might work at the local Starbucks. Hard to believe that the connections are so poor.
I will be in touch as soon as I can.”
We are looking forward to more posts from Judge Riley! She is scheduled to be in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba until Wednesday, 30 April 2014. She will fly back to Andrews Air Force Base on a military flight, and then return to Indianapolis.