Guantanamo And The Trials That Never Get Started

Guantanamo And The Trials That Never Get Started

Guantanamo And The Trials That Never Get Started

We are within days of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. But in Guantanamo Bay, the trials for those still being held there for helping plan and provide money for those attacks can’t even get started.

The death penalty trials for alleged attack mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and four other defendants has been stuck in pre-trial motions for almost a decade at this point, due to several reasons – the most recent delay being COVID-19. But the defendants’ lawyers want their confessions thrown out, because of what they call “torture” by the CIA to get those confessions.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, dubbed “KSM” and described as “the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks,” was a close ally of Osama bin Laden and was repeatedly waterboarded while in U.S. custody. KSM is being tried in a death penalty case alongside four co-defendants: his nephew, Ammar Baluchi, who sent money transfers to hijackers inside the U.S.; alleged hijacking trainer Walid bin Attash; 9/11 facilitator Ramzi bin Shibh; and al Qaeda money man Mustafa Hawsawi. The men were subjected to a variety of interrogation techniques — including stress positions, sleep deprivation, bouncing the detainees off of walls, slaps to the face, and more.”

The defense teams are seeking to throw out confessions that the five men made to FBI “clean teams” at Guantanamo Bay after they had been subjected to these “enhanced interrogation techniques,” considered torture by many, at the CIA black sites.”

When announcing that KSM and his co-defendants had been sent to Guantanamo Bay in 2006, President George W. Bush argued that “this program has been subject to multiple legal reviews by the Department of Justice and CIA lawyers” and added, “I want to be absolutely clear with our people, and the world: The United States does not torture. It’s against our laws, and it’s against our values. I have not authorized it — and I will not authorize it.”

The 9/11 case has been delayed many times following unfavorable Supreme Court decisions under Bush and an abandoned effort by former President Barack Obama to try the men in a New York City federal court. After multiple scuttled military commissions, numerous retired judges, battles over classified information, and accusations of torture, the death penalty trial had been set for 2021, but COVID-19 upended that, and with yet another new judge starting this week, it is unclear where things now stand.”

The question of “was this torture or not?” has essentially tied up the trials to the point that they can never get started. This is not the trial that never ends, it’s the trial that never BEGINS. The interrogation program that was used at the time no longer exists. The defense attorneys are busy keeping the courts tied up, with questions that can never be satisfactorily dealt with and have now outlasted SEVEN judges over the course of nine years. The eighth judge in this case is Air Force Colonel Matthew McCall, who just started this week.

While the 9/11 families have been waiting for two decades at this point to see someone, anyone, be held truly accountable for what happened, let’s remember that Obama wanted Guantanamo Bay closed down – which never happened – and Biden pledged to do the same. But until these trials actually occur, that will never happen. Remember the outcry when Obama tried to bring them to New York City for trial, and then gave up because New York didn’t want that?

I am certain that when Guantanamo was designated to hold terrorist detainees in January 2002, no one believed that it would turn into the perpetual cycle of pre-trial motions that it has. And it is clear that whoever is left can’t be moved to the United States, and the federal courts have ruled as recently as last September that detainees don’t have the same due process rights as Americans.

What we are now currently stuck with – indefinite detainees and a trial that can’t get off the ground, not to mention the bills – may exist until every single one of the remaining 39 detainees die of natural causes, especially as we now see former Guantanamo Bay detainees showing up in the new Taliban management. These are not people that can just be turned loose on a promise to be good. So what do we have to look forward to? A lot of legal bills to pay? Absolutely. Justice? Maybe, but who knows how many more years that might take.

Featured image: Guantanamo Bay Camp Justice sign, taken on January 10, 2011 by Petty Officer First Class David P. Coleman, public domain work of the United States Navy

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  • Scott says:

    Be a real shame if there happened to be a fire at the prison… just saying

  • Brat says:

    I have heard first hand that some family members of 9/11 Fallen wonder if they’ll even be alive to see justice. THEIR pain is real, never mind the bs about *torture* for the terrorists.

  • GWB says:

    This goes along with a HotAir bit about whether we’ve made war too polite. If we had followed the actual rules of warfare 20 years ago, these folks would have been executed as terrorists (they are illegal combatants) after being pumped for immediate intel. Justice would have been served by that. But, like all progressivism, the process became the virtue, and perfect is the enemy of good. Like with the Pharisees, the jots and tittles became the essence of the law.

    This is part of the evil of progressivism. And lawyers have played a big part in its corruption of our institutions.
    Put the lawyers in Guantanamo, and release the terrorists in over Afghanistan.

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