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Posts Tagged ‘Guantánamo’

Holder On KSM Trial: ‘I Know This Case In A Way That Members Of Congress Do Not’

TPM Muckraker

Ryan J. Reilly | April 4, 2011, 4:15PM

Despite his announcement today [yesterday] that the trials of five alleged Sept. 11 co-conspirators will be held in a military court, Attorney General Eric Holder is standing by his original decision to hold civilian trials for five alleged Sept. 11 conspirators in federal court and blames Congress for forcing his hand in sending them to the military system.

In a short 13-minute news conference at Justice Department headquarters on Monday, Holder came out forcefully in defense of his original decision in November 2009 to prosecute the alleged terrorists in federal court and said that he had “reluctantly” made the reversal of his original decision due to the “needless controversy” over the KSM trial and restrictions that Congress had placed on the executive branch.

Holder chastised members of Congress for setting up “unwise and unwarranted restrictions” on transferring Guantanamo detainees which could “undermine our counterterrorism efforts and could harm our national security.”

He said the trial decision had been “marked by needless controversy since the beginning” and that the prosecution of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his co-conspirators “should never have been about settling ideological arguments or scoring political points.”

“Had this case proceeded in Manhattan or in an alternative venue in the United States, as I seriously explored in the past year, I am confident that our justice system would have performed with the same distinction that has been its hallmark for over two hundred years,” Holder said in his prepared remarks.

But in light of the restrictions imposed by Congress on transferring detainees to the U.S., Holder said the Justice Department had to “face a simple truth: those restrictions are unlikely to be repealed in the immediate future. And we simply cannot allow a trial to be delayed any longer for the victims of the 9/11 attacks or for their family members who have waited for nearly a decade for justice.”

Asked by CNN’s Terry Frieden whether it was Holder’s belief that he “knows best and that there is just no room for the public’s view” on where a trial should be held, Holder said that he didn’t want to hold himself out as “omniscient” but said the “reality is though I know this case in a way that members of Congress do not.”

“I have looked at the files. I have spoken to the prosecutors. I know the tactical concerns that have to go into this decision,” said Holder.

“So do I know better than them? Yes. I respect their ability to disagree, but I think they should respect the fact this is an executive branch function, a unique executive branch function,” Holder said.

Despite the reversal, Holder said that the administration would continue to fight to get the restrictions on transferring Guantanamo Bay detainees lifted.

“It is still our intention to close Guantanamo. It’s still our intention to lift those restrictions,” Holder told reporters.

The Justice Department also released the December 2009 indictment against KSM and his four co-conspirators, which had been under seal until it was withdrawn this week.

Nolle and Unsealing Order – 4-4-11

MORE HERE

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DoJ reveals names of lawyers smeared as ‘Al-Qaeda 7′

Raw Story- By Andrew McLemore
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010 — 7:13 pm

Yesterday, a conservative group run by Bill Kristol and Liz Cheney released a political ad accusing seven lawyers within the Department of Justice of being un-American because they advocated for detainees held in Guantanamo.

Today, the names of those lawyers were revealed by a spokesman for the Justice Department who said politics had “overtaken reality” in questioning the virtue of military lawyers for defending the rights of prisoners of war.

“Department of Justice attorneys work around the clock to keep this country safe, and it is offensive that their patriotism is being questioned,” said Justice Department Spokesman Matt Miller.

And who is questioning the lawyers’ patriotism? To start with, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who has been demanding for months that the names of DoJ lawyers who defended terror suspects be revealed.

“The administration has made many highly questionable decisions when it comes to national security, ” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a recent statement, arguing that the public has “a right to know who advises the Attorney General and the President on these critical matters.”

According to a Fox News report, most of the lawyers had relatively “minor roles” in defending detainees before being appointed to the Department of Justice. Those “minor roles” included filing briefs that advocated for protection of detainees’ rights. Specifically, that they should be allowed a trial at all.

One of the lawyers, Tony West (shown above), represented “American Taliban” Johh Walker Lindh for several years as part of a San Francisco law firm. West is now the Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

He and the six other lawyers were dubbed the “Al-Qaeda 7” in a video released this week by Keep America Safe, a conservative organization headed by Dick Cheney’s daughter Elizabeth and pundit Bill Kristol.

The group released the video after the Department of Justice refused to release the names because it “will not participate in an attempt to drag people’s names through the mud for political purposes. “

The ad, shown below, was widely lambasted by many critics and publications as repugnant, indecent and outrageous.

If nothing else, the ad achieved its intended effect of galvanizing many Americans to fear lawyers trying to defend human rights. After it was aired, the Department of Justice was flooded with calls complaining about their political appointments.

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From The Times February 20, 2010
Frances Gibb, Legal Editor, and Sean O’Neill, Security Editor

Binyam Mohamed: the former Guantánamo Bay detainee's treatment is the subject of a police inquiry (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)

The Government’s own human rights watchdog has demanded a public inquiry into claims that British intelligence agencies were complicit in the torture of more than 20 detainees in the War on Terror, The Times has learnt.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) says that it can no longer ignore the growing body of allegations against MI5 and MI6.

The commission’s chairman says in a letter to Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, that the Government’s blanket denials are an inadequate response. Trevor Phillips says: “Not enough has been done to reassure the commission and the public that these allegations are unfounded.”

A dossier of 25 cases has now been built up, including complaints of ill treatment, illegal detention and torture. The EHRC is concerned about mounting evidence that these actions were condoned by British agencies.

Mr Phillips told The Times: “Given the UK’s role as a world leader on human rights, it would be inexplicable for the Government not urgently to put in place an independent review process to assess the truth, or otherwise, of these allegations.” He also criticised as “inexplicable” a year-long delay by the Government in reporting to the United Nations Committee against Torture.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article7034456.ece

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Virgin Media |10 February 2010 10:12am

'Torture files': Binyam Mohamed and Foreign Secretary David Miliband

Foreign Secretary David Miliband has lost his appeal court bid to prevent senior judges disclosing secret information relating to torture allegations in the case of Binyam Mohamed.

The former Guantanamo Bay detainee says he was tortured in Pakistan while held by the CIA, with the knowledge of the British.

The allegations claim that Mr Mohamed was subjected to sleep deprivation, was given threats and inducements and was shackled during interviews. His fears of being removed from the US and “disappearing” were also played upon.

Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones want to disclose summaries of information held by the British security services.

Mr Miliband, branded them “irresponsible” in an unprecedented attack on the judiciary, but three of the country’s highest-ranking judges rejected both the minister’s accusations and his appeal. (more…)

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By Paul Craig Roberts | OpEdNews | January 5, 2010

I had just finished reading the uncensored edition of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s book, In The First Circle (Harper Perennial, 2009), when I came across Chris Hedges article, “One Day We’ll All Be Terrorists” (Truthdig, Dec. 28, 2009). In Hedges’ description of the US government’s treatment of American citizen Syed Fahad Hashmi, I recognized the Stalinist legal system as portrayed by Solzhenitsyn.

Hashmi has been held in solitary confinement going on three years. Guantanamo’s practices have migrated to the Metropolitan Correction Center in Manhattan where Hashmi is held in the Special Housing Unit. His access to attorneys, family, and other prisoners is prevented or severely curtailed. He must clean himself and use toilet facilities on camera. He is let out of solitary for one hour every 24 hours to exercise in a cage.

Hashmi is a US citizen but his government has violated every right guaranteed to him by the Constitution. The US government, in violation of US law, is also subjecting Hashmi to psychological torture known as extreme sensory deprivation. The bogus “evidence” against him is classified and denied to him. Like Joseph K. in Kafka’s The Trial, Hashmi is under arrest on secret evidence. As the case against him is unknown or non-existent, defense is impossible.

Read more…

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Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s public relations apparatus was firing on all cylinders Wednesday morning, with the release of a predictable statement about the failed Underpants Bomber fracas. And by “public relations apparatus” I mean “cable news and Politico.”

Needless to say, Cheney is well-qualified to take an authoritative posture when it comes to terrorism. After all, he and his little buddy “kept us safe” from terrorist attacks for eight years, right? Other than the worst terrorist attack in American history, of course, along with the Anthrax Attacks, the Beltway Snipers, the thousands of terrorist attacks on our contractors and soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the attacks on our allies in London and Madrid, Cheney did a fine job keeping us safe (more about this in my book). Good job, Mr. Cheney!

So it wasn’t any surprise when Cheney stopped thumbing through Uncle Billy’s misplaced $8,000 long enough to fire off a few words about the failed Underpants Bomber attempt and the Obama administration’s response. And since Dick Cheney is a very serious terrorism expert — mainly because more Americans died in terrorist attacks on his watch than any other vice president ever — the media gobbled it up, practically unchallenged. Cheney said:

As I’ve watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think if he has a low-key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won’t be at war.

First of all, way to condemn the attempted attack, Mr. Cheney — oh wait, you didn’t condemn anything other than the president. Sorry. You chose instead to attack the commander-in-chief while troops are in harm’s way. Weren’t you guys totally against that sort of thing, by the way? Oh right. Everything prior to January 20, 2009 doesn’t count.

But that last part about giving “terrorists the rights of Americans” and letting them “lawyer up,” is fascinating coming from Mr. Cheney.

(more…)

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Paul Craig Roberts | Takimag.com | December 02, 2009

HappyObama

It didn’t take the Israel lobby very long to bring President Obama to heel regarding his prohibition against further illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Obama discovered that a mere American president is powerless when confronted by the Israel lobby and that the United States simply is not allowed a Middle East policy separate from Israel’s.

Obama also found out that he cannot change anything else either, if he ever intended to do so.

The military-security lobby has war and a domestic police state on its agenda, and a mere American president can’t do anything about it.

President Obama can order the Guantanamo torture chamber closed and kidnapping and rendition and torture to be halted, but no one carries out the order.

Essentially, Obama is irrelevant.

(more…)

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