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Joseph Margulies, a Guantanamo defense attorney, writes at the New Republic that as competing narratives about the meaning and proper response to the 9/11 attacks continue to take shape, “the iconic images of the post-September 11 world — Guantanamo, waterboarding, military commissions, rendition, and countless others — are converted from policies that are either good or bad (and choices that were either wise or foolish) to symbols that represent particular visions of national identity,” a shift, Margulies writes, that is “momentous and under-appreciated.” The way in which these competing narratives are developing, says Margulies, “makes it almost impossible for new... Continue reading
FBI Director Robert Mueller, who will step down in September, is profiled in Time magazine’s lastest cover story. The writeup is an in-depth look at the man who has led the FBI for a decade and is credited with much of its modernization and reform after 9/11. The report also takes a close look at the challenges Mueller’s successor will face. Is the FBI Up to the Job 10 Years After 9/11? (Time) Continue reading
According to several reports, Somali man arrested on the Texas-Mexico border in 2008 has been sentenced by a U.S. federal judge to 10 years in prison for lying about his links to two terror groups. Ahmed Muhammed Dhakane pleaded guilty to lying on his asylum application and failing to disclose ties to two groups the United States has listed as terror groups. Dhakane, Justice Department officials allege, was involved in human smuggling operations earlier this decade. Somali Sentenced for Lying about Terrorism Links (AP via NYT) Somali Accused of Smuggling Gets Prison (San Antonio Express-News) Judge Sentences Suspected Terrorist to... Continue reading
According to reports, just weeks before the trial of a Canadian man is to begin in Chicago on charges he provided material support to the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, U.S. prosecutors have added four defendants to the case, none of whom is in U.S. custody. The four men, according to Bloomberg, are alleged to have connections to Lashkar-e-Taiba and each “faces six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of U.S. citizens in India, which carry maximum sentences of death or life imprisonment.” The four men were also indicted on terrorism support charges and several were charged... Continue reading
The New York Times has published several documents that it reports are the Government’s Guide to Assessing Detainees, including a ‘threat matrix’ – including advice on code words, cover stories, locations, etc – intended to help interrogators and analysts determine whether the detainee was a high- or low-level threat to the United States. (This document is also available via NPR.) The Government’s Guide to Assessing Prisoners (NYT) Guantanamo Document: Threat Matrix (NPR) The New York Times’ infographic The Guantanamo Docket has been updated with additional information from the detainee assessments. The Guantanamo Docket (NYT) Additionally, NPR has compiled several nfographics... Continue reading
The New York Times reports tonight that classified assessments of detainees at the Guantánamo Bay prison obtained by newspaper give the fullest public picture to date of the prisoners held there. According to the Times, Obama administration officials have condemned the publication of the classified documents, which were obtained by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks last year but provided to The Times by another source. For the full link to the text, click here. Continue reading
Several drone strikes on a house believed to be holding suspected militants in Pakistan’s North Waziristan killed 25 people Friday, including several women, according to reports. The strikes came after Pakistani officials urged Adm. Michael Mullen to halt the strikes this week during Mullen’s visit to Pakistan. Also early Friday, hundreds of militants reportedly attacked a military checkpoint in the north of the area, killing at least 14 security troops, according to the AP. U.S. Drone Strike Kills 25 in Pakistan’s North Waziristan (Reuters via NYT) U.S. Drone Attack Kills 25 in Pakistan (AP via WSJ) Pakistan: U.S. Drone Raid... Continue reading
The Los Angeles Times editorial board weighs in on the case of five Chinese Uighurs being held at Guantanamo despite being cleared for release; their appeal was declined by the Supreme Court this week. The editorial argues that “[t]he United States has a moral obligation to accommodate the Uighurs, whom the government acknowledges are victims of mistaken identity….The Uighurs’ hopes now rest with Congress, which needs to recognize that not every detainee at Guantanamo is an enemy of the United States; some are long-suffering victims of American neglect.” Editorial: Guantanamo Uighurs Deserve to Be Resettled in U.S. (LAT) Continue reading
An article written by Human Rights First’s Gabor Rona weighs in on the military commission charges against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Rona writes that “[t]hese charges provide a perfect teachable moment about what’s wrong with military commissions and why prosecution of al Nashiri is better left to the regular, federal criminal courts.‬ ” He argues that “[w]hat the government says here is that al Nashiri is a war criminal for attacking the Cole. But if the Cole attack was in a war, then it’s not a war crime because under the laws of war, the USS Cole is a legitimate military... Continue reading
According to The Washington Post, President Barack Obama has approved the use of armed drones in Libya, authorizing U.S. airstrikes on ground forces for the first time since America turned over control of the operation to NATO on April 4. The Post reports: Marine Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the drones can help counteract the pro-Gadhafi forces’ tactic of traveling in civilian vehicles that make it difficult to distinguish them from rebel forces. “What they will bring that is unique to the conflict is their ability to get down lower, therefore to be... Continue reading
Yesterday, April 21, 2011,the Defense Department announced new charges against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Guantanamo detainee accused of involvement in the bombing of the USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors in 2000. According to reports, prosecutors will be seeking the death penalty. Notably, these are the first war crimes charges against a detainee under the Obama administration. Nashiri, a Saudi citizen of Yemeni descent, has been in U.S. custody since 2002, at Guantanamo since 2006, and earlier charged in 2008. According to the Washington Post, prior to his detention at Guantanamo, he was held in a series of black... Continue reading
In October of 2010, Omar Khadr pleaded guilty to five war crimes at a military commission in Guantanamo and received an eight-year sentence. Now, defense lawyers for Khadr are challenging the qualifications of a key Pentagon witness and seeking to have Khadr’s sentence cut in half to four years. According to a letter sent to the military’s Convening Authority, defense lawyers claim that testimony by psychologist Michael Welner, who testified for the military that Khadr was a threat to society, was “unscientific” and “designed solely to inflame and mislead the jury,” according to the Toronto Star. Defense attorneys also allege... Continue reading
According to the Guardian, Britain’s Ministry of Defence commissioned an in-house study last month examining the ethics of drones and is urging policymakers to consider norms and rules that would govern the use of the rapidly developing technology and robotic warfare. The Guardian report states that “the recent extensive use of unmanned aircraft over Pakistan and Yemen may already herald a new era,” and that “every time a mistake is made,” insurgents are able to cast themselves “in the role of underdog and the west as a cowardly bully that is unwilling to risk his own troops, but is happy... Continue reading
The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal from five Chinese Uighurs who have been detained at Guantanamo for nearly nine years. The detainees, who are not considered a threat to the United States and have been cleared for release, do not want to be returned to China for fear of imprisonment. The U.S. government has received two resettlement offers for the detainees, including from the island nation of Palau, and the detainees have rejected those options. In the latest appeal, the detainees had hoped that the justices would consider whether they could be released into the United... Continue reading
JURIST reports that a former Guantanamo Bay detainee announced Friday that he is suing members of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's regime. Mamdouh Habib, an Australian citizen, alleges that he was tortured by the government while in Egyptian custody. Habib was arrested in Pakistan in 2001 following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US. He was released from Guantanamo in 2005 without charges being filed against him, after being held at the detention facility for three years. Habib claims that he was tortured and beaten after being taken to Egypt as part of the CIA's extraordinary rendition program. For the... Continue reading
McClatchey reports that on Friday, President Barack Obama signed into law a sweeping defense bill that specifically thwarts his goal of closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, then issued a "signing statement" against it. It's the second time the president has enacted into law Congress' ban on civilian trials for any of the last 172 Guantanamo captives and, in an echo of his predecessor, George W. Bush, the second time he blasted it as "a dangerous and unprecedented challenge to critical executive branch authority." For the full text of the article, The Miami Herald has a similar report available... Continue reading
Wittes' post on Lawfare blog entitled "I'm from the NSA, and We Don't Get Out Much," offers summary and comment on Patrick Reynolds' speech at the DUke Conference entitled "Protecting Civil Liberties in a Cyber Age." Reynolds, a deputy general counsel at the NSA, provided a brief overview on the panel of the development of surveillance law. Wittes' begins by relevantly noting that: To consider the issue of civil liberties in a cyber age, Reynolds says, he wants to walk through the intelligence collection side of the NSA’s mission. Because, he notes, the NSA does collect communications of foreign intelligence... Continue reading
On Wednesday, April 13, the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing on Guantanamo Detainee Transfer Policy and Recidivism. The link to the hearing Web site, which has links to the prepared witness testimony, is here. The Committee also posted the full video of the hearing on YouTube, found here. Continue reading
In a recent online video, apparently recorded before the NATO intervention in Libya, al Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri celebrates the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Al-Zawahiri calls upon Muslims to fight both “the mercenaries of Qaddafi and the rest of NATO” should NATO intervene in Libya. Notably, this is the first video from Zawahiri in more than a year and half, according to ABC News, and follows audio messages from him released earlier this year. Al Qaeda Ayman al-Zawahiri Surfaces in Rare Online Video (ABC News) Al Qaeda Number Two Broaches Libya in New Video (AFP) Continue reading
The Canadian Press reports today that a man arrested last year for links to Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square bomber who is serving a life sentence, pleaded guilty to immigration and illegal money transfer charges in federal court Tuesday and will be deported. Aftab Ali is a Pakistani citizen living in Massachusetts and has been held since May 2010. He has since been cleared of any knowledge of the terror plot. However, he was charged with immigration offenses and with ‘unwittingly’ giving Shahzad $4,900. Ali and will be deported in the next several weeks after a judge sentenced him... Continue reading
According to multiple reports, a NOVA man pleaded guilty Monday to two terror-related counts in connection with a plot to bomb the Washington-area Metro system. Farooque Ahmed is a 35-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan and has received a 23-year sentence as part of his plea deal. According to the Associated Press, he pleaded guilty for attempting to provide material support of al Qaeda and collecting information for a terrorist attack on a transit facility. AP reports that Ahmed’s lawyer “explained [in court] that Ahmed had succumbed to a government sting operation after being seduced by violent extremist rhetoric from... Continue reading
Sunday was ripe for a substantial number of editorials written on the heels of Attorney General Holder's announcement to try September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed by military tribunal. Writing in the Sunday Washington Post, CLS Executive Director Karen Greenberg argues that while she is disappointed with the decision to hold a military commission at Guantanamo for several accused 9/11 suspects, “[i]t is time to give up our long-standing protest and consider the good that can come from these trials — even if they are held at Guantanamo, and even if they are conducted by the military.” Ms. Greenberg continues... Continue reading
A Canadian court heard arguments last week, April 7, regarding whether a U.S. extradition request for the brother of Omar Khadr, the detainee who pleaded guilty at a Guantanamo tribunal late last year, should be reinstated. According to the Toronto Star, Abdullah Khadr is wanted in Boston on charges of obtaining weapons for al Qaeda. Khadr’s extradition to the U.S. was halted last year when a Canadian judge concluded “the United States government worked in concert with Pakistan’s intelligence service in denying Khadr access to consular officials and delaying his return to Toronto after he was arrested in Islamabad in... Continue reading
In a report issued this Friday, April 8, 2011, the AP reports that suspected terrorists in Afghanistan continue to be held in covert U.S. military-run detention facilities where they can be interrogated for up to nine weeks before being charged. The report cites U.S. officials who revealed details of what the AP calls “the top-secret network” of jails. The AP reports that interrogators can request detention extensions for up to nine weeks if the detainee is providing valuable intelligence, although the military says it only holds detainees for up to 14 days unless ‘extraordinary circumstances’ warrant an extension. AP reports... Continue reading
Multiple outlets have discussed the political response and ramifications to Holder's decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed by military tribunal. The PBS NewsHour has video of Holder taking reporters’ questions at the news conference, Monday April 4. The AP reports that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised the venue decision, calling it “more appropriate” that the case be handled before a military tribunal and that it would spare the city the security expense. Politico reports that a number of U.S. senators expressed approval of the move, including Schumer, McCain, Lieberman, and McConnell. Leahy, Democratic senator from Vermont, issued a... Continue reading