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Defense lawyers in Guantanamo war tribunals are upset over third party monitoring, document disappearance

They're the men allegedly behind some of the worst terrorist attacks on the U.S.  As work at the Guantanamo Bay prison facility winds down, the Pentagon prepares to hold special war tribunals -- military trials -- for prisoners deemed too dangerous to release.

I. Defense Discovers Documents Delete, Smoke Alarms Were Really Mics

Those prisoners include five men responsible for helping plan the September 11 terrorist attacks.  They also include Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, who masterminded an attack on the USS Cole during its deployment to Yemen, an attack that killed 17 U.S. sailors.

But the pretrial hearings, which were supposed to start this week in some cases may be delayed due to allegations of foul play, according to Reuters.

Smoke alarm
What appeared to be smoke alarms in client meeting rooms were really disguised microphones.
[Image Source: Adeoma]

Defense lawyers for several of the suspects, who face the death penalty say they have evidence that their emails and internet searches were monitored by third parties.  And they say documents involved with the case began to disappear from their assigned Pentagon computers in February.  

Navy Commander Walter Ruiz represents Mustafa al Hawsawi, who is alleged with funneling funding for the 9/11 attacks. Ruiz states, "three to four weeks' worth of work is gone, vanished."

Aside from deletions, there was also evidence that prosecutors ordered system administrators to grant them access to 500,000 files on defense lawyers machines, files which included confidential attorney-client communications.  The Guantanamo detention camp's legal advisor also revealed that device that appeared to be smoke alarms in rooms where defense attorneys met with their clients were really microphones; but don't worry -- he claimed no conversations between the lawyers and their clients were recorded.

II. Human Rights Watchers: Trial "is a Sham"

International human rights watchdog group Human Rights First blasted the latest developments as "absolutely outrageous".  Its expert on the current proceedings -- Daphne Eviatar comments, "This is just further evidence that the military commission system is a sham and that all terrorism trials should be held in real U.S. federal courts on U.S. soil, where the rules are clear, defendants' rights are respected and the verdicts will have credibility."

Guantanamo Bay
Human rights watchers have complained that the Guantanamo Bay proceedings are a sham.
[Image Source: Getty Images]

The issues have been so severe that Colonel Karen Mayberry has advised the defense lawyers to stop storing case documents on Pentagon machines.  James Connell, a defense attorney for Ali Abdul Aziz Ali (aka Ammar al-Baluchi) -- the other alleged 9/11 plot funding funneler -- comments "I'll be filing a handwritten motion very shortly to ask for an abatement of the proceedings."

Given the extraordinary and unusual circumstances Army Colonel James Pohl -- the presiding judge in the trials -- has already delayed the pre-trial hearings of al Nashiri till June and is considering pushing the death penalty trial for the 9/11 conspirators as well.

Until February the preliminary hearings were being broadcast to the public and media via a closed circuit.  But the judge in February ordered those feeds cut, around the same time the alleged harassment of defense lawyers began.

Source: Reuters

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RE: Trials? Juries?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/12/2013 4:02:40 PM , Rating: 0
You still don't get it. Since when do we have civilian style civil "trials" for enemy soldiers caught on the battlefield? This is some new pussy politically correct BS that a bunch of Liberals have cooked up.

All this guarantees is it will be 40+ years before this mess is sorted out. But I guess that's some peoples idea of "justice".

RE: Trials? Juries?
By V900 on 4/12/2013 4:20:44 PM , Rating: 5
You are absolutely correct. There is no precedent for these civilian style trials.

These are enemy soldiers and should be treated as such.

And I'm sure an intelligent and well read person such as yourself have heard about the treaties on prisoners of war, no?

That means that they have rights under the Geneva convention, can't be subject to in humane treatment, as they are now, and of course have to be resettled on the US taxpayers dollar after hostilities cease. As they have largely done in Afghanistan.

If they have committed any crimes against humanity,they should of course be transferred to the international tribunal in Hague and face a fair trial there.

Anything less really just serves to further embarrass and humiliate the US in the court of international opinion, and will further erode any rights that US citizens still have.
(After all, if the government doesn't respect international human rights and conventions, why should they respect US citizens rights?)

RE: Trials? Juries?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/12/2013 4:30:20 PM , Rating: 2
Problem is, these aren't prisoners of war in the traditional sense. The Geneva Convention doesn't apply to them. This has been a fictitious assertion that's been perpetrated throughout the media, and the public has parroted it. But it's simply not the case.

This is Article IV of the Geneva Convention.

"Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfill the following conditions:

That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

That of carrying arms openly;

That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war."

I have highlighted the criteria terrorists do not meet, therefore according to the Geneva Convention, it simply does not apply to them or their treatment as prisoners.

RE: Trials? Juries?
By ritualm on 4/12/2013 4:35:16 PM , Rating: 1
The Geneva Convention doesn't apply to them precisely because USA refuses to recognize the Geneva Convention in the first place.

Not surprising this comes from a country whose previous President publicly declared waterboarding is legal.

RE: Trials? Juries?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/12/2013 4:38:59 PM , Rating: 2
The Geneva Convention doesn't apply to them precisely because USA refuses to recognize the Geneva Convention in the first place.

We absolutely DO recognize it. Again, the Geneva Convention applies to a declared war against another nation state, and their uniformed soldiers and civilians. What part about that are you NOT getting? Terrorists aren't technically soldiers or militia, they don't declare themselves for any particular nation, and they aren't uniformed or otherwise clearly marked. Hence, they get NO Geneva Convention protection status.

If you just hate the United States and want to say whatever crazy crap you want, hey, have at it. But you're just wrong here.

RE: Trials? Juries?
By Spuke on 4/12/2013 5:32:58 PM , Rating: 2
The Geneva Convention doesn't apply to them precisely because USA refuses to recognize the Geneva Convention in the first place.
LOL! We don't. Guess the US military's been lying to its soldiers then AND having them living a lie by following the Geneva Convention when we really weren't supposed to. BTW, Rec is right, terrorists aren't covered by the Geneva convention and I find it interesting we're even giving them ANY rights.

RE: Trials? Juries?
By Ammohunt on 4/12/2013 9:58:44 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah I mean I have been out of the ARMY for 20 years but I distinctly remember the covering the rules of land warfare. We follow the rules to our own detriment.

RE: Trials? Juries?
By BRB29 on 4/15/2013 7:42:38 AM , Rating: 2
You do realize the Geneva Convention and Rules of Engagement are exactly why our progress was so slow right? Have you ever seen its complexity and scope? I have to remember all of that. Please read it and tell me how easy it is to remember a whole small book of rules when you're receiving fire or a guy with a bomb is running at you. Or You're surrounded by civilians and you know terrorists are there in the crowd but there's not much you can do to protect your men.

In fact, from my experience, it seems like the only country out there that tried to follow the Geneva Convention was the US. But our forces make up over 95% of total coalition forces so we always get the bad rep.

Don't let a few bad eggs that had been blown up by the media fool you. Almost everyone follow the rules, the ones that break them usually have something personal or are racists. There is always a small amount of turds in every large group. You cannot completely avoid that.

Let's not forget our enemies doesn't follow any rules. They can care less about ours besides to use it against us. You think waterboarding is bad? The torture they put on both our and their people are unimaginable. Let's just say a gutted pig on a hook had a much better death. People are quickly to hate on the US without knowing what is really going on.

RE: Trials? Juries?
By Skywalker123 on 4/15/2013 11:58:21 AM , Rating: 2
You clearly don't have a clue what the U.S has done

RE: Trials? Juries?
By BRB29 on 4/15/2013 1:00:43 PM , Rating: 2
you clearly have no clue of what's really happening besides what you've read.

RE: Trials? Juries?
By Skywalker123 on 4/15/2013 4:13:56 PM , Rating: 2
and where do you get your info?

RE: Trials? Juries?
By inperfectdarkness on 4/12/2013 8:42:49 PM , Rating: 2
This is the ultimate issue. This is why Gitmo still exists & why the issue is still so hotly debated. It is COLLECTIVELY the fault of the entirety of western civilization that there has been no internationally codified & sanctioned rules of law for dealing with prisoners that fall into this legal black-hole. There most certainly is a gap between national laws (that only apply to citizens of said state) and organized combat (where the combatants are uniformed, and are not legally allowed to hide amongst or target civilians).

Until this gap is addressed, the problem will continue. I submit that it must be addressed if there is ever to be any hope of "winning" the Global War on Terror.

RE: Trials? Juries?
By DalisMoustache on 4/13/2013 12:17:32 AM , Rating: 2
Why did you note quote Convention 3 article 5?
Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.

Can you explain the what the loophole is? It seems clear to me (and many other more scholarly persons): there are two categories: combatants, non-combatants. If in doubt a tribunal must decide.

RE: Trials? Juries?
By ImJustSaying on 4/13/2013 2:10:13 PM , Rating: 4
I think you're wasting your time trying to have an honest debate with Reclaimer, simply because you're having an argument with the village idiot. This turd has been posting on DailyTech about the evils of liberalism and the virtues of fascism for quite some time now. He lacks the fundamental ability to empathize with others. He's a good little Nazi, so as long as you accept that, then you'll know to simply ignore his posts.

RE: Trials? Juries?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/13/2013 4:15:07 PM , Rating: 1
Godwin says what?

RE: Trials? Juries?
By ipay on 4/18/2013 9:24:49 AM , Rating: 2
Tbh I think he's right and I just wasted time replying to you.


RE: Trials? Juries?
By ipay on 4/18/2013 8:48:53 AM , Rating: 2
That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

Of course when writing this you considered, that:

A US military tribunal has ruled that wearing enemy uniforms BEFORE combat operations is "fine" with them. Or is your argument that you are actually sure none of them was wearing a "distinctive sign recognizable at a distance" during combat operations?


Paragraph 43 of the Field Manual published by the War Department, United States Army, on 1st October, 1940, under the title " Rules of Land Warfare ", says: " National flags, insignias and uniforms as a ruse-in practice it has been authorised to make use of these as a ruse. The foregoing rule (Article 23 of the Annex of the IVth Hague Convention), does not prohibit such use, but does prohibit their improper use. It is certainly forbidden to make use of them during a combat. Before opening fire upon the enemy, they must be discarded ". The American Soldiers' Handbook, which was quoted by Defence Counsel, says: " The use of the enemy flag, insignia and uniform is permitted under some circumstances. They are not to be used during actual fighting, and if used in order to approach the enemy without drawing fire, should be thrown away or removed as soon as fighting begins ".


That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war

What exactly are you refering to? The heavily disputed "legality" of drone strikes? War crimes committed by the "kill team", Academi (former XE serivces, former Blackwater)? ...

How do war crimes/... justify randomly arresting people and not giving them a fair trial? Just go ahead and shoot them or sentence them without any defense/lawyer, but stop pretending there was a fair trial because at this point this is just laughable.

On Guantanamo in general:

If you at least looked up Guantanamo on wikipedia you'd see that pretty much everyone argues that it is not legal.(

- Martin Scheinin, a United Nations rapporteur on rights
- The International Committee of the Red Cross ("Every person in enemy hands must have some status under international law: he is either a prisoner of war ... a civilian covered by the Fourth Convention, ... there is no intermediate status; nobody in enemy hands can fall outside the law.")
- Henry T. King, Jr., a prosecutor for the Nuremberg Trials

I think I'll side with the ICRC on this one.

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