- On April 4, New York Times writer Charlie Savage headlined,
"In a Reversal, Military Trials for 9/11 Cases," saying:
- After months of indecision, the Obama administration
"will prosecute Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) and four other (suspects)
accused of plotting the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks before a military commission
and not a civilian court, as it once planned."
- In fact, candidate Obama pledged:
- "As president, I will close Guantanamo, reject the
Military Commissions Act, and adhere to the Geneva Conventions...."
- On January 22, 2009, he signed an Executive Order (EO)
to close Guantanamo in one year.
- More promises made. More broken. Obama's record is near-perfect
showing nothing he says can be believed.
- On April 4, Attorney General Holder broke the news, saying:
- "In November 2009, I announced that (KSM) and four
other individuals would stand trial in federal court for their roles in
the" 9/11 attacks....After consulting with prosecutors from the Department
of Justice and Department of Defense and after thoroughly studying the
case, it became clear to me that the best venue (was) federal court. I
stand by that decision."
- Not at all as months of inaction gave "Members of
Congress" time to "intervene and impose restrictions blocking
the administration from bringing any Guantanamo detainees to trial in the
United States, regardless of the venue."
- "(T)hose restrictions are unlikely to be repealed
in the immediate future. And we simply cannot allow a trial to be delayed
any longer....We must bring the conspirators to justice."
- On April 4, a Department of Justice press released headlined,
"Justice Department Refers Five Accused 9/11 Plotters to Military
- "As the indictment unsealed today reveals, we were
prepared to bring a powerful case against the 9/11 defendants in federal
court, and had this case proceeded as planned, I'm confident our justice
system would have" prevailed.
- A 10 count, 80 page indictment accuses them of:
- -- "conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending
- -- acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries;
- -- conspiracy to commit violent acts and destroy aircraft;
- -- violence on and destruction of aircraft;
- -- conspiracy to commit aircraft piracy;
- -- aircraft piracy;
- -- murder of US officers and employees;
- -- destruction of property by means of fire and explosives;
- -- conspiracy to kill Americans."
- Charged were Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), Walid Muhammad
Salih bin Attash, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Ali Abdul-Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed
- Commenting on Holder's announcement, ACLU Director Anthony
Romero said, "The attorney general's flip-flop is devastating for
the rule of law."
- In response to Holder's announcement, an ACLU press release
- "In a move that undermines civil liberties and the
rule of law, the Obama administration today announced that it will prosecute
the (9/11) suspects....in the Guantanamo military commissions system."
- Executive Director Anthony Romero added:
- Using military commissions "is completely wrong.
There is a reason this system is condemned: it is rife with constitutional
and procedural problems and undermines the fundamental values that have
made us a model throughout the world for centuries....The attorney general's
flip-flop is devastating for the rule of law. (These trials) will not be
seen as legitimate. This is not justice."
- Moreover, alleged evidence against the suspects was obtained
under torture, ruled constitutionally inadmissible by the Supreme Count
in Brown v. Mississippi (February 1936), saying:
- "The rack and torture chamber may not be substituted
for the witness stand."
- It cited an earlier Fisher v. State (November 1926) High
Court decision, stating:
- "Coercing the supposed state's criminals into confessions
and using such confessions so coerced from them in trials has been the
curse of all countries. It was the chief iniquity, the crowing infamy of
the Star Chamber (the notorious 15 - 17th century English court), and the
Inquisition, and other similar institutions. The Constitution recognized
the evils that lay behind these practices and prohibited them in this country
wherever the court is clearly satisfied such violations exist, (and) it
will refuse to sanction such violations and will apply the corrective."
- In other words, confessions and alleged evidence obtained
under torture are unreliable, suspect, and inadmissible in court. In addition,
according to Mark Denebeaux and other Seton Hall University Law Professors,
unclassified evidence obtained through FOIA requests revealed evidentiary
summaries from 2004 military hearings on whether 517 Guantanamo detainees
were enemy combatants. They showed that:
- -- at most, few Afghan Guantanamo prisoners committed
- -- 95% were seized by bounty hunters paid $5,000 per
claimed Taliban and $25,000 for alleged Al Qaeda members; and
- -- 20 were children, some as young as 13, but all were
brutally tortured as later revealed.
- Serious questions thus remain regarding the claimed guilt
of these suspects, including the alleged mastermind, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
- -- no lawyer;
- -- was isolated at black sites for over two years, including
the secret "Dark Prison" near Kabul International Airport, infamous
for its absolute lack of light combined with brutalizing torture;
- -- another north of Kabul called the "Salt Pit,"
where in 2002, a detainee was stripped naked and left chained to the floor
in freezing temperatures until he died;
- -- while in Afghanistan, Mohammed was hog-tied, stripped
naked, hooded, and abused repeatedly in numerous ways, including being:
- -- kept in a prolonged state of sensory deprivation for
- -- waterboarded numerous times;
- -- chained naked to a metal ring in his cell in a painful
crouch in intense heat and extreme cold;
- -- bombarded with deafening sounds round the clock for
- -- thrown against walls forcefully, a procedure called
- -- suspended from the ceiling by his arms so his toes
barely touched the ground;
- -- beaten with electric cables;
- -- given electric shocks; and
- -- forced to endure a variety of stress positions for
extended periods, causing excruciating pain until;
- -- in 2006, he was sent to Guantanamo where his torture
continued, included being waterboarded over 183 times. The other four suspects
received similar treatment.
- An ICRC report said high-level Al Qaeda prisoners were
repeatedly tortured, especially Mohammed for his alleged mastermind role.
To extract a confession, he was told: "We're not going to kill you.
But we're going to take you to the brink of your death and back."
- As a result, whether he and the others plotted 9/11 must
seriously be questioned given that international law is clear and unequivocal.
Torture is prohibited at all times, under all circumstances, with no allowed
exceptions. Evidence so obtained is unreliable and inadmissible as explained
above. Yet, it will be used, making a proper defense impossible, especially
from court-appointed lawyers, picked to give prosecutors an open field
- In federal court, however, confessions obtained under
torture are inadmissible. Yet, according to the Military Commissions Act
(MCA), evidence obtained through coercion is allowed. As a result, 9/11
suspects face potential execution without appeal if convicted which is
- MCA, in fact, grants sweeping police state powers, including
that "no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear
or consider any claim or cause for action whatsoever....relating to the
prosecution, trial, or judgment of a military commission (including) challenges
to the lawfulness of (its) procedures...."
- MCA scraped habeas protection for domestic and foreign
state enemies, citizens and non-citizens alike, saying:
- "Any person is punishable....who....aids, abets,
counsels, commands, or procures," and in so doing helps a foreign
enemy, provide "material support" to alleged terrorist groups,
engages in spying, or commits other offenses previously handled in civil
courts. No evidence is needed. Those charged are guilty by accusation.
- Other key provisions include:
- -- denying international law protection;
- -- letting the president convene "military commissions"
at his discretion to try anyone he designates an "unprivileged enemy
belligerent," detaining them indefinitely in secret;
- -- denying speedy trials or any at all;
- -- letting hearsay and secret evidence be used; and
- -- denying due process, destroying human dignity, mocking
the rule of law, and establishing the principle of kangaroo court justice
for anyone the executive targets with or without evidence.
- In other words, the rule of law is null and void. Whatever
the president says goes. No one any longer is safe. Obama is as lawless
as Bush. America is a police state, making everyone potentially vulnerable.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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