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The past two weeks have brought us 3 bombshell exhibits on why the military commissions at Guantanamo are an utter faiure. First,we learned that the audio and video feeds at the trial of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) and 4 others mysteriously went out as the defense was presenting a motion, to the surprise of even the judge. (It turned out the "Original Classification Authority" (read: CIA) was the culprit.

Then we learned that the government has been eavesdropping on attorney-client privileged communications through a microphone disguised as a smoke detector.

Now we learn, thanks to the tenacious reporting of Carol Rosenberg who has consistently covered the underbelly of all things Gitmo, that the microphones were not just in a single attorney-client-meeting room, but were systematic, courtesy of the FBI and CIA.

When are we going to stop trying to re-invent a square wheel? The military commissions are, and have always been, a huge failure because they are a form of extra-legal justice invented for the purpose of "trying" (for those lucky enough to see the inside of a courtroom) people whose cases we have hopelessly tainted, first by torture and indefinite detention, and now by a sham judicial process.

Last week, Navy Capt. Thomas Welsh, the senior legal adviser to the commander of the Gitmo prison, admitted in testimony that the government placed a hidden microphone inside the private meeting room for attorneys and high-value detainees.

Now Army Col. John Bogdan, the commander himself, just testified that--although he had total control of the compound (aptly known as Echo II)--he was unaware that the FBI had hidden microphones inside.

This is difficult to square with Welsh's testimony that he learned more than a year ago that authorities could audio monitor when he saw a law enforcement agent listening while a prisoner, his lawyer, and prosecutors discussed a possible plea deal to war crimes charges. It defies credulity that Welsh didn't share this potentially case-crushing information with his boss.

Both officials' testimony has been lame and contradictory, to put it generously. Welsh said that he was assured the microphone was not used to monitor private conversations between prisoners and their lawyers. (This defies credulity. I'm not sure what else a hidden microphone in an attorney-client room would be used for.) Bogdan testified that, even though the FBI hid microphones (about which he was completely unaware), no one listened. He would only know this because that's what subordinates, who were apparently shielding this damning information from him, told him after they were busted. This is also belied by his testimony that his guards are under verbal orders not to listen in on confidential conversations between prisoners and their lawyers, which begs the question of how they could have done so if not for the microphones, about which he was supposedly unaware.

And the mischief gets even messier. Bogdan testified that the FBI initially installed the microphones years ago and had control of the facility until 2008. Then Navy engineers disconnected the bugs during renovations in October 2012. Then "an intelligence unit" (read: CIA) reconnected them in December 2012, right before the highest-profile military commission trial--that of professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed--began pre-trial proceedings.

The attorney-client privilege is sacrosanct to the legitimacy of legal proceedings.  It is one one of the most fundamental things a suspect relies on. This has been an ongoing issue at Gitmo for more than a decade--when I first worked on detainees issues. And even if the issues of torture and indefinite detention are surmountable by the government, the new-fangled, re-fangled, and retroactively-fangled kangaroo courts known as military commissions are never going to work because they are a second-rate, second-tier, extra-judicial forum created to try to bring legitimacy to a botched, extra-legal detention system we already broke. Instead of trying to come up with new iterations of military commissions every few years, try these people in federal court, or as the Supreme Court recommended, release them.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Obama couldve closed Gitmo (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Don midwest, elwior, Words In Action

    He got scared and broke his promise.

    •  why was he scared? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      native, elwior, Words In Action

      i have a guess

    •  he was just going to create a GITMO of the North (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action, Kombema

      It should have drawn more attention when Sen. Sanders and Sen, Feingold voted against it.

      But every time the issue of ongoing injustices at Guantanamo is raised, one hears the same apologia from the President’s defenders: the President wanted and tried to end all of this, but Congress — including even liberals such as Russ Feingold and Bernie Sanders — overwhelming voted to deny him the funds to close Guantanamo. While those claims, standing alone, are true, they omit crucial facts and thus paint a wildly misleading picture about what Obama actually did and did not seek to do.

      What made Guantanamo controversial was not its physical location: that it was located in the Caribbean Sea rather than on American soil (that’s especially true since the Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that U.S. courts have jurisdiction over the camp). What made Guantanamo such a travesty — and what still makes it such — is that it is a system of indefinite detention whereby human beings are put in cages for years and years without ever being charged with a crime. President Obama’s so-called “plan to close Guantanamo” — even if it had been approved in full by Congress — did not seek to end that core injustice. It sought to do the opposite: Obama’s plan would have continued the system of indefinite detention, but simply re-located it from Guantanamo Bay onto American soil.

      Long before, and fully independent of, anything Congress did, President Obama made clear that he was going to preserve the indefinite detention system at Guantanamo even once he closed the camp. President Obama fully embraced indefinite detention — the defining injustice of Guantanamo — as his own policy.

      And THIS from the same article from last year...
      Recall that the ACLU immediately condemned what it called the President’s plan to create “GITMO North.” About the President’s so-called “plan to close Guantanamo,” Executive Director Anthony Romero said:

      The creation of a “Gitmo North” in Illinois is hardly a meaningful step forward. Shutting down Guantánamo will be nothing more than a symbolic gesture if we continue its lawless policies onshore.

      Alarmingly, all indications are that the administration plans to continue its predecessor’s policy of indefinite detention without charge or trial for some detainees, with only a change of location. Such a policy is completely at odds with our democratic commitment to due process and human rights whether it’s occurring in Cuba or in Illinois.

      In fact, while the Obama administration inherited the Guantánamo debacle, this current move is its own affirmative adoption of those policies. It is unimaginable that the Obama administration is using the same justification as the Bush administration used to undercut centuries of legal jurisprudence and the principle of innocent until proven guilty and the right to confront one’s accusers. . . . .The Obama administration’s announcement today contradicts everything the president has said about the need for America to return to leading with its values.

      In fact, Obama’s “close GITMO” plan — if it had been adopted by Congress — would have done something worse than merely continue the camp’s defining injustice of indefinite detention. It would likely have expanded those powers by importing them into the U.S.

      without the ants the rainforest dies

      by aliasalias on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 10:26:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I should add Sen. Feingold's letter to Obama (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NonnyO, Words In Action, Kombema

        Here are the relevant paragraphs from it...

        My primary concern, however, relates to your reference to the possibility of indefinite detention without trial for certain detainees. While I appreciate your good faith desire to at least enact a statutory basis for such a regime, any system that permits the government to indefinitely detain individuals without charge or without a meaningful opportunity to have accusations against them adjudicated by an impartial arbiter violates basic American values and is likely unconstitutional. While I recognize that your administration inherited detainees who, because of torture, other forms of coercive interrogations, or other problems related to their detention or the evidence against them, pose considerable challenges to prosecution, holding them indefinitely without trial is inconsistent with the respect for the rule of law that the rest of your speech so eloquently invoked. Indeed, such detention is a hallmark of abusive systems that we have historically criticized around the world. It is hard to imagine that our country would regard as acceptable a system in another country where an individual other than a prisoner of war is held indefinitely without charge or trial.
        You have discussed this possibility only in the context of the current detainees at Guantanamo Bay, yet we must be aware of the precedent that such a system would establish. While the handling of these detainees by the Bush Administration was particularly egregious, from a legal as well as human rights perspective, these are unlikely to be the last suspected terrorists captured by the United States. Once a system of indefinite detention without trial is established, the temptation to use it in the future would be powerful. And, while your administration may resist such a temptation, future administrations may not. There is a real risk, then, of establishing policies and legal precedents that rather than ridding our country of the burden of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, merely set the stage for future Guantanamos, whether on our shores or elsewhere, with disastrous consequences for our national security. Worse, those policies and legal precedents would be effectively enshrined as acceptable in our system of justice, having been established not by one, largely discredited administration, but by successive administrations of both parties with greatly contrasting positions on legal and constitutional issues.
        (emphasis both posts)

        I wonder how Russ feels about Hedges v Obama ?

        without the ants the rainforest dies

        by aliasalias on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 10:39:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Once again, (6+ / 0-)

    you've show how low they can go. That's a generalized "they".

    Moderation in most things.

    by billmosby on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 07:29:10 AM PST

  •  the rule of law is so quaint (14+ / 0-)

    seen some reports that the Pope resigned to hide out from legal issues and to be sequestered in unreachable places

    the USA has been twisting the rule of law to support the 1% and the war on terror for some time

    the Republicans through the Federalist Society have taken over a lot of the judiciary in the country

    half the federal judges were appointed by Republicans and many were/are members of the Federalist Society

    It is not news that the US government systematically abuses its secrecy powers to shield its actions from public scrutiny, democratic accountability, and judicial review. But sometimes that abuse is so extreme, so glaring, that it is worth taking note of, as it reveals its purported concern over national security to be a complete sham.
    I added the bold for emphasis.

    The quotation is from an article about the Obama DOJ again tells a court that it cannot safely confirm or deny the existence of the CIA drone program.

    Alice in Wonderland be on the ready because we need you!

    On the one hand, medals for drone warriors, on the other hand DOJ hiding from even the existence of the program.

    Could it be that the administration does not want to have its policies and actions reviewed by the legal system we set up when our country was founded? That is a dumb question: of course security state is hiding from the rule of law which is displayed again and again, and in this diary today.

    Link to source of the quotation:

  •  Wasn't 9/11 convenient (3+ / 0-)

    With the Patriot Act all ready to go. It's a good thing I don't believe in conspiracy theories.

  •  I still blame (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NonnyO, Kombema, Don midwest

    the corporate Dem centrists, who have given Obama all the cover he has needed to pursue these nefarious policies under the auspices of the Democratic Party. If he ever hangs for it, they will blame us, of course, not themselves, or, more importantly, Obama.

    The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

    by Words In Action on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 11:23:27 AM PST

  •  Every conviction reversed. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ImpeachKingBushII, Don midwest

    Every conviction from a contested proceeding (i.e., non-plea bargain) has been vacated by appellate courts.  Every single one.  That means the tribunals are a complete and utter failure, even if measured by the most simplistic of metrics.

    Contrast that with a 95% affirmance rate for federal courts.

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