by C. Dixon Osburn, Director, Law & Security, Human Rights First
Twelve years after 9/11, those who planned the attacks have yet to be held accountable for causing the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians. Guantanamo policy is to blame.
While the military commission trial against Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his co-conspirators will resume next week on the isolated base in Cuba, no one should expect progress any time soon. The commissions, even in their current third incarnation, have been plagued with one misfire after another, leading the chief of staff for the official overseeing Guantanamo to reportedly call the prison “a hot mess.” The myriad recent problems with the commissions include:
The military judge failed to determine whether the Constitution applies to the commission proceedings as a whole, leaving the parties to argue over every possible application of the Constitution.
The court ruled defendants are not able to hear evidence of their own torture because it’s classified.
The CIA, unbeknownst to the military judge, had the ability to censor testimony, which was discovered when a white noise button was used, but not by the court security officer.
It was discovered that eavesdropping devices at the court could monitor attorney client communications.
Defense emails and documents have disappeared from government computers, leading the chief defense counsel to bar use of Pentagon computers for casework.
In a major counterterrorism speech this spring, President Obama pledged to redouble efforts to close Guantanamo – a symbol of torture and indefinite detention. He said, “Guantanamo has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law.”