Gitmo

Rep. Marsha Blackburn works to PROTECT America from GITMO Detainees

Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R, TN-7) has introduced H.R. 4836, the PROTECT Act, to criminalize the transfer of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay to the United States. Congressman Frank Wolf (R, VA-10) co-sponsored the bill.

Rep. Blackburn explains in the video below why this legislation is necessary.

Note: 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America supports the legislation, as noted by Rep. Blackburn during her House floor speech.

Military Commission 9/11 murder and conspiracy charges to be resworn against KSM et al

We received tonight from the Office of Military Commssions that the charges against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four senior cohorts will be resworn Tuesday:

30 May 2011
2000 hours

Dear 9/11 Families,

We wanted to inform you that charges will be sworn tomorrow against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid Bin ‘Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa al Hawsawi for their involvement in the September 11, 2001 attacks. The eight charges common to all five of the accused are: Conspiracy, Murder in Violation of the Law of War, Attacking Civilians, Attacking Civilian Objects, Intentionally Causing Serious Bodily Injury, Destruction of Property in Violation of the Law of War, Hijacking Aircraft, and Terrorism.

The Conspiracy charge details 167 overt acts allegedly committed in furtherance of the 9/11 attacks, and alleges the following against the five accused in the following order:

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is alleged to have been the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks by proposing the operational concept to Usama bin Laden as early as 1996, obtaining approval and funding from Usama bin Laden for the attacks, overseeing the entire operation, and training the hijackers in all aspects of the operation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin ‘Attash is alleged to have administered an al Qaeda training camp in Logar, Afghanistan where two of the September 11th hijackers were trained. He is also alleged to have traveled to Malaysia in 1999 to observe airport security by U.S. air carriers in order to assist in formulating the hijacking plan. It is also alleged that he provided a letter to Usama bin Laden detailing his findings on airport security, including how to get a razor-knife on board an aircraft.

Ramzi Binalshibh is alleged to have originally been selected by Usama bin Laden to be one of the September 11th pilot-hijackers with his Hamburg, Germany associates Mohamed Atta, Ziad Jarrah, and Marwan al Shehhi. It is alleged that after filming a “martyr video” in preparation for the operation, but then failing four times to get a visa to travel to the United States to attend flight school, Binalshibh continued to assist the conspiracy by engaging in numerous financial transactions in support of the 9/11 operation. It is also alleged that Binalshibh then became the communication hub between the pilot-hijackers and senior al Qaeda leadership regarding the planning details of the operation.

Ali Abdul Aziz Ali is alleged to have sent approximately $120,000 to the pilot-hijackers for their expenses and flight training, and alleged to have facilitated travel to the United States for nine of the hijackers. It is also alleged that Ali attempted to enter the United States just prior to the September 11th 2001 attacks but was denied a U.S. visa to travel.

Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi is alleged to have assisted and prepared the hijackers with money, western clothing, traveler’s checks and credit cards. He is also alleged to have facilitated the transfer of thousands of dollars between the accounts of alleged 9/11 hijackers and himself around September 11th, 2001.

These charges are allegations and the five accused are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a military commission.

After charges have been sworn, they will be presented to the Legal Advisor for the Convening Authority (CA) for his review and advice. After this review, the CA – in his sole discretion – may then refer the charges to a military commission. The CA will also determine whether or not to refer the charges to a capital military commission (meaning whether or not the death penalty will be sought in the case). If referred (capital or non-capital), a military judge would then be assigned and a panel of eligible military officers would be selected as potential members of the military commission. The accused would then be arraigned within 30 days of the service of the referred charges.

KSM trial non-decision angers 9/11 family members; Obama ‘changes’ stance on Gitmo tribunals

I participated in yesterday’s White House conference call briefing to 9/11 family members; they provided us nothing new as to when or where Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his lieutenant co-conspirators would be tried.

The Washington Times reported this morning:

Debra Burlingame, co-founder of 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America and a board member of Keep America Safe, said she was upset at the White House after participating in a conference call with families of the victims of 9/11. “What we heard today is that despite the fact that Congress has closed every loophole for trying Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his co-conspirators in Article III courts, the White House is persistent in defying the will of the American people and plans to do it anyway,” she said.

The briefers stated to us, “President Obama remains committed to using Article III courts for terrorists,” and added, “The President will work with Congress to lift the restrictions imposed in December 2010.” Last month, the House passed legislation that would extend the bar to all federal agencies imposed against using DOD funding for transferring Gitmo detainees to the U.S.

All of the questions during the call came from 9/11 family members.

The White House could not say how the Justice Department would overcome objections by officials in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania to 9/11 civilian trials in those states and reconcile such a decision with 6th Amendment requirements. They could not provide information as to when the decision would be made. They dodged questions about why Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his cohorts were not being tried by Military Commission, at Guantanamo, and not being placed at that “top of the list.” They disputed one family member’s assertion that the 9/11 plotters were not being given top priority but provided no evidence to support their counter-argument. One 9/11 family member tersely told White House briefers, “This call is a waste of time.”

Many aging parents of the 2,976 slaughtered on 9/11 will not live to see justice done for the war crimes committed against their loved ones. But President Obama is “taking the issue off the table” for the 2012 election campaign; it will be “all Congress’s fault” if they do not let him bring foreign enemies onto U.S. soil and bestow them with Constitutional rights.

Try KSM and al Nashiri at Gitmo now for their war crimes

President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder believe the enemy has Constitutional rights. So far, the Supreme Court has not agreed with that assertion. We should put the theories to the test by trying al Nashiri and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed at Gitmo now.

When Holder brought Ghailani to federal court for trial, he did so knowing a federal judge might not allow the seller of the TNT to testify as he was first identified during Ghailani’s detainee interrogations. Instead of railing against bestowing Constitutional rights upon non-U.S. persons who wage illegal war, Benjamin Wittes and Jack Goldsmith seem to argue we should just wait the enemy out in their op-ed today in the Washington Post:

The government had a difficult time convicting Ghailani in large part because presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan excluded a key witness that the government had acknowledged it knew about through coercive interrogations. Many critics of civilian trials claim that this problem would not have occurred in a military commission, but that is very probably wrong. The legal standard for excluding such evidence in military commissions would depend on the military judge’s sense of the “interests of justice.” The government would be foolish to rely on military judges’ willingness to admit evidence obtained – even in a derivative fashion – as a result of coercion. There is not much reason to think that the government would have had an easier time against Ghailani on this score if it had proceeded in a commission.

Imagine that Ghailani had been acquitted on all counts. The administration would then have faced a terrible choice between releasing him or — as the attorney general and Judge Kaplan have said is possible — continuing to hold him in military detention indefinitely despite his acquittal. The first option would be unsafe for the nation and suicidal politically. The second option would look terrible in light of an acquittal and would harm the legitimacy of every subsequent terrorist trial.

This terrible choice — which came close to becoming a reality — reveals why military detention is fundamental and appropriate here. The reason the first option is unsafe and the second option is available is that Ghailani helped conduct a major terrorist operation on behalf of a group with which the country is at war. Military detention was designed precisely to prevent such fighters from returning to the battlefield. It is a tradition-sanctioned, congressionally authorized, court-blessed, resource-saving, security-preserving, easier-than-trial option for long-term terrorist incapacitation.

As civilians, Ghailani, al Nashiri, and KSM all waged illegal war against the United States by attacking our embassies, the USS Cole, and both civilians and military personnel on 9/11. If no evidence exists to support those assertions, then both President Bush and President Obama had no inherent or Congressional authority to continue to hold them as detainees. Yet abundant evidence exists that all three committed war crimes resulting in the deaths of U.S. persons.

The Supreme Court reaffirmed the President’s authority to indefinitely detain the enemy back in 2004 so their detention is not at issue. That war crimes were committed, they require an accounting, and America’s enemies should not be afforded Constitutional rights are the issues.

Attorney General Holder declined to prosecute Ahmed Ghailani for his post-9/11 activities as a member of al Qaeda. It is telling that Holder announced last year that U.S.S. Cole bomber al Nashiri would be brought to a military commission in the United States only to let the DOJ withdraw those charges in August 2010, as the Washington Post reported:

[C]ritics of military commissions say the Nashiri case exemplifies the system’s flaws, particularly the ability to introduce certain evidence such as hearsay statements that probably would not be admitted in federal court. The prosecution is expected to rely heavily on statements made to the FBI by two Yemenis who allegedly implicated Nashiri. Neither witness is expected at trial, but the FBI agents who interviewed them will testify, said Nashiri’s military attorney, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Stephen C. Reyes. “Unlike in federal court, you don’t have the right to confront the witnesses against you,” he said.

Three of the prosecution’s witnesses against Ahmed Ghailani were not available because they died since testifying in the 2001 trial against the four previously arrested for the 1998 attacks upon our embassies. If our national policy becomes delaying war crime prosecutions until the end of hostilities, it imbues war criminals with a temporary immunity and risks their outliving the means to bring them to justice.

Judge Kaplan’s ruling that the testimony by the seller of the TNT to Ghailani was “fruit of a poisoned tree” is exactly why President Obama and Attorney General Holder hold out hope to someday bring more Gitmo detainees onto U.S. soil and to trial, regardless of the venue. Yet after the Ghailani verdicts, this and future Congresses are unlikely to ever fund bringing them here for that purpose.

This war will not end in our lifetimes or theirs and no President will release al Nashiri and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed alive to again wage illegal war upon the United States. Should they be acquitted due to Constitutional protections, America will finally see the wisdom of our Founding Fathers who gave no authority to the Judiciary branch in war. If they are convicted and pay the full measure for their war crimes, justice will at last be served.

WSJ: ‘officials’ say military commission at Gitmo for KSM

Yesterday, the Wall Street Street Journal reported:

Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday a decision is near on where to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other confessed plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. A key New York lawmaker flatly ruled out Mr. Holder’s earlier choice of federal court in New York City as a venue, and officials say the most likely outcome is a military commission trial at Guantanamo Bay, where the accused men are now held.

That may explain why Human Rights Watch has launched a taxicab video campaign:

The “man-on-the-street” style video, filmed around parts of Lower Manhattan, features more than a dozen anonymous city residents, from formally dressed bankers to street vendors, who speak directly to the camera, declaring, “I’m a New Yorker.” The speakers proclaim their support for the trials to be held in the city: “Here, here, because the crime was committed here,” one says. The advertisement ends by urging viewers to “stand up for 9/11 trials in New York” and suggesting a visit to the group’s Facebook page.

Gridlock, high security, and enemy propaganda would happen here, in lower Manhattan, at the same time the National September 11 Memorial and Museum was opening, if Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is brought to trial six blocks from the World Trade Center, as Debra Burlingame explained on Fox News with Megyn Kelly:

Obviously, Human Rights Watch has no regard for the safety, livelihoods, and opinions of New York City residents and Americans in general.

We will soon learn whether President Barack Obama shares their indifference.