Does Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Have Rights?

Download PDF

On Monday here at Guantánamo, I saw Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in person for the first time. He’s accused of leading involvement in the 9/11 attacks that killed 2,976 people. Proceedings against him and the four alleged 9/11 co-conspirators resumed at the U.S. Naval Station this week, in a military commission process that does not meet international standards for fair trials.

Ever since the 9/11 attacks, a crime against humanity, Amnesty International has been calling for those involved to be brought to justice. In a letter to President George W. Bush over 11 years ago, we wrote that in the wake of such a crime:

It is vital to maintain the highest respect for human rights and international human rights standards. This should include using every means available to bring those responsible for the 11 September attacks to justice within the framework of a fair and accountable criminal justice system, and with full respect for international standards for a fair trial. We urge your administration to adhere to such standards every step of the way towards the objective of justice, and to reject any resort to the death penalty in pursuit of this goal.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

The Elephant in the Courtroom

Download PDF

No matter how hard the Military Commissions try they can’t escape the elephant in the courtroom. The five defendants in the 9/11 case were tortured by the CIA and the government is tying itself in knots trying to work around this fact.

In his press conference on the eve of the arraignment the Chief Prosecutor, General Mark Martens, tried to address this issue:

“Some have said that any attempt to seek accountability within the Military Commissions system must inevitably be tainted by torture… we acknowledge your skepticism, but we also say that the law prohibits the use of any statement obtained as a result of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and we will implement the law.”

Of course the law also requires the state to investigate allegations of torture – yet in the case of the five defendants being arraigned this hasn’t happened. That might explain some of our skepticism.
SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Military Commissions: Still a Failure

Download PDF

Camp Justice, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

Last week a court in Brooklyn convicted Al Qaeda operative Adis Medunjanin of plotting to bomb the New York subway.

Bosnian-born US citizen Medunjanin conspired with Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay to launch a major attack before the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in 2009.

U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials disrupted the plot before anyone could get hurt, and arrested those involved.

Make no mistake, this plot represented a serious threat to the United States. It was conceived in 2008 by the then head of Al Qaeda’s external operations, Rashid Rauf.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Coming Face to Face with Torture

Download PDF
Pawiak Prison Museum in Warsaw Poland

Pawiak Prison Museum in Warsaw, Poland.

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the Pawiak Prison Museum in Warsaw, Poland.

During the Nazi occupation of Poland in World War II Pawiak was the largest political prison in the country – approximately 100,000 prisoners passed through its cells.

37,000 of those men and women died in Pawiak – many under interrogation by the Gestapo. Another 60,000 were sent to German concentration camps. Very few survived the war.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

10 Years On, 10 Reasons Guantanamo Must Be Closed

Download PDF
guantanamo protest france

(Pierre-Yves Brunaud)

Ten years ago today the first twenty prisoners arrived at the US military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay. As we mark this dismal anniversary, it is instructive to take a moment to reflect on the damage Guantanamo continues to do to the global cause of human rights.

Guantanamo is much more than simply the sum of its parts, and outlined below are 10 powerful anti-human rights messages that the continued existence of the detention facility sends out to the world:

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Another Presidential Flip-flop

Download PDF

Khalid Sheik Mohammed

The Obama administration released a trial (no pun intended) balloon over the weekend, leaking that it was thinking of shelving plans to bring Khalid Sheik Mohammed and the other alleged 9/11 conspirators to trial.

Instead the administration is apparently considering holding KSM and other GTMO detainees indefinitely as Prisoners of War. Far from closing GTMO, the new Obama plan seems to be to institutionalize it as part of the national landscape.

If GTMO becomes a permanent feature of America’s counter-terrorism architecture it is inevitable that sooner or later new detainees will be sent there. Federal agents and intelligence officials faced with a hard case or sensitive sources to protect will opt for indefinite detention over prosecution. More mistakes are going to be made.

Indeed, given the amount of flip-flopping we have seen from the White House on this issue, I am beginning to wonder how long it will be before the Presidential ban on coercive interrogation is lifted in the spirit of bipartisanship.

In June 2009 Attorney General Eric Holder met with 9/11 families and told them that he was personally committed to bringing the perpetrators to trial in open, transparent courts. This was the only way forward if the administration was to rehabilitate America’s damaged reputation on the world stage.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Try KSM in a Kangaroo Court at GTMO? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Download PDF

 

In this new video, New Yorkers for 9/11 Justice are urging President Obama to do the right thing and prosecute Khalid Shiekh Mohammed and the other four 9/11 suspects in U.S. federal court. Why? The alternative–an unfair kangaroo court at Guantanamo–stinks. Agree? Sign the petition.

Personally, as a New Yorker who could see the Twin Towers from his living room and watched the second tower fall from Canal Street, I have a number of reasons for joining New Yorkers for 9/11 Justice Petition and supporting a federal court trial over a Guantanamo commission:

  • Federal courts are more effective: federal courts have successfully prosecuted over 400 terrorism related cases since 2001. Only five people have been convicted in Guantanamo commissions. Federal courts work.
  • Federal courts are fair: A federal court trial would demonstrate to ourselves and the rest of the world that we are true to our values of justice and due process.  Guantanamo commissions are an embarrassment. They don’t meet international, US or US military standards for fair trials.
  • Federal courts are safe and secure:For the past several weeks, Guantanamo detainee and alleged al-Qaeda terrorist Ahmed Ghailani has been on trial in downtown New York City–without incident, disruption or exorbitant cost.
  • Military commissions are opposed by members of the military: The Guantanamo commissions were not created by the military–they were created by politicians and called “military commissions” to try and give them legitimacy. Even Guantanamo military lawyers have come out against them.
  • We’d all want a fair trial if accused of a crime: It’s easy to trade away other peoples’ rights, but the reality is that all of our rights are tied together. When a government violates the rights of some, it undermines the rights of us all.

And finally, what often gets lost in the chorus of fear mongering is that victims and survivors of 9/11 have the right to justice. They have the right to see, after years of delay, those responsible for 9/11–a crime against humanity–held accountable. A Guantanamo kangaroo court denies this right. Only a fair trial can fulfill the right to justice. Let’s get on with it and try KSM in federal court.

Where do you think KSM should be tried? Let us know in the comments. Bonus points for being civil and avoiding the standard logical fallacies (here’s a useful list). Again, if you support fair trials, sign the petition.

Try KSM in a Kangaroo Court at GTMO? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Download PDF

 

In this new video, New Yorkers for 9/11 Justice are urging President Obama to do the right thing and prosecute Khalid Shiekh Mohammed and the other four 9/11 suspects in U.S. federal court. Why? The alternative–an unfair kangaroo court at Guantanamo–stinks. Agree? Sign the petition.

Personally, as a New Yorker who could see the Twin Towers from his living room and watched the second tower fall from Canal Street, I have a number of reasons for joining New Yorkers for 9/11 Justice Petition and supporting a federal court trial over a Guantanamo commission:

  • Federal courts are more effective: federal courts have successfully prosecuted over 400 terrorism related cases since 2001. Only five people have been convicted in Guantanamo commissions. Federal courts work.
  • Federal courts are fair: A federal court trial would demonstrate to ourselves and the rest of the world that we are true to our values of justice and due process.  Guantanamo commissions are an embarrassment. They don’t meet international, US or US military standards for fair trials.
  • Federal courts are safe and secure:For the past several weeks, Guantanamo detainee and alleged al-Qaeda terrorist Ahmed Ghailani has been on trial in downtown New York City–without incident, disruption or exorbitant cost.
  • Military commissions are opposed by members of the military: The Guantanamo commissions were not created by the military–they were created by politicians and called “military commissions” to try and give them legitimacy. Even Guantanamo military lawyers have come out against them.
  • We’d all want a fair trial if accused of a crime: It’s easy to trade away other peoples’ rights, but the reality is that all of our rights are tied together. When a government violates the rights of some, it undermines the rights of us all.

And finally, what often gets lost in the chorus of fear mongering is that victims and survivors of 9/11 have the right to justice. They have the right to see, after years of delay, those responsible for 9/11–a crime against humanity–held accountable. A Guantanamo kangaroo court denies this right. Only a fair trial can fulfill the right to justice. Let’s get on with it and try KSM in federal court.

Where do you think KSM should be tried? Let us know in the comments. Bonus points for being civil and avoiding the standard logical fallacies (here’s a useful list). Again, if you support fair trials, sign the petition.

Senator Graham: Let’s Hear it for New York

Download PDF

Dear Senator Graham,

Sometime tomorrow, Thursday, likely before noon, the Senate will probably vote on the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2010 and on your proposed amendment to that act that would block Guantanamo detainees from having trials in US federal courts.

I urge you to drop your amendment. And I’ve called my Senators, Gillibrand and Schumer, and urged them to oppose it, using the script below. I’ve encouraged others to call their Senators too.

Why? Because I live in New York City. I’m watching the Yanks as I write this.

And I could see the Twin Towers from my living room. I saw the second Tower fall with my own eyes, from the corner of West Broadway and Canal. I want the people responsible brought to justice. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST