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The farce of a "trial" at Gitmo

Welcome to the utter madness of a so-called trial at Gitmo.      If it weren't so very serious one ought to be laughing out loud.   And all of this is permitted on the watch of a president said to be liberal, a trained lawyer and then a law lecturer.

ProPublica reports in "Now on Trial at Guantanamo Bay: Spiral Notebooks".....

"On October 12, 2000, a skiff pulled up alongside the U.S.S. Cole, docked in Aden, Yemen, and blew up. The attack killed 17 sailors and nearly sank the Cole. It was one of Al Qaeda’s most lethal operations before 9/11.

Nearly 13 years on, prosecutors and defense lawyers are still in pre-trial hearings, arguing over spiral notebooks, whether a dead man can testify, and dozens of other legal questions ranging from mundane errors to constitutional challenges to the court’s authority. There’s no indication when the actual trial will be able to begin.

Welcome to the courts at Guantanamo Bay.

Abd al Rahim Al Nashiri faces the death penalty for allegedly being “in charge of planning and preparation” of the attack on the Cole, as well an attack on a French ship and an attempted bombing of another U.S. vessel. The 48-year-old Saudi has been in U.S. hands since 2002, first at a CIA secret prison and for the six last years at Gitmo.

In this week’s hearings, Nashiri sits in a wheeled office chair, unshackled, dressed in a white, oversize, short-sleeved shirt. (On a tour of the courtroom, we were told defendants had to sit in chairs without wheels.) His lawyer can’t say whether he’s fasting as part of the ongoing hunger strike at Guantanamo, but he appears to be a normal weight.

I’m watching the first day’s proceedings behind triple-paneled soundproof glass, looking into the courtroom, facing the judge, alongside legal observers and victims and family members of those harmed in the bombing.

We are not allowed to doodle, lest we reveal the layout of the room.

TVs above the window play the proceedings along with audio. Both have a controversial 40 second delay, allowing censors time to bleep out classified information.

So we all rise for the judge, then sit again as he takes his seat and starts talking, only to still be hearing nothing and watching, on TV, an empty chair. When the court recesses, the judge leaves the room, and we all remain standing, rapt at his still-speaking image on the TV screen.

The issue currently before the judge, James Pohl, is, well, according to Pohl: “This is an issue…” He paused, with a sigh.

“I won’t characterize what I think of the issue.”

In fact, the morning’s hearing covers a motion the defense has filed, seeking to clarify what, precisely, they can bring into meetings with their client. Recently, the government wouldn’t let them bring in a note-filled spiral-bound notebook, saying the wire, if removed, could be dangerous.

The prosecution offers solutions. The defense lawyers could, for example, take the pages they need from their spiral notebook and transfer them to a three-ring binder, Marine Major Christopher Ruge tells the judge. The defense lawyers’ notebook, Ruge notes, “comes three-hole punched.”

But when pressed on it, the prosecutor is not actually sure that binders are allowed."

Continue reading here.


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