GITMO, 9/11 families, and trials

*cross-posted from Assoluta Tranquillita*

Remember a few days ago when Judge Col., James Pohl refused to halt the trial of USS Cole suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the 2000 Navy destroyer bombing that killed 17 U.S. sailors in Yemen? It was one of my B*N*S*N pieces last week.

That story is here:

Judge refuses to delay Gitmo detainee’s trial

Rejection of Obama request could complicate effort to close prison

updated 3:46 p.m. PT, Thurs., Jan. 29, 2009 function UpdateTimeStamp(pdt) { var n = document.getElementById(“udtD”); if(pdt != ” && n && window.DateTime) { var dt = new DateTime(); pdt = dt.T2D(pdt); if(dt.GetTZ(pdt)) {n.innerHTML = dt.D2S(pdt,((”.toLowerCase()==’false’)?false:true));} } } UpdateTimeStamp(‘633688696023670000’);

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A military judge at Guantanamo on Thursday rejected a White House request to suspend a hearing for a USS Cole bombing suspect, creating an unexpected challenge for the Obama administration as it reviews the U.S. war-crimes trials process.

The judge, Army Col. James Pohl, said his decision was difficult but necessary to protect “the public interest in a speedy trial.” The ruling came in the case against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the 2000 Navy destroyer bombing that killed 17 U.S. sailors in Yemen.

It seemed to take the Pentagon completely by surprise…. [Go read the rest here.]

It seems the President was not happy with the Colonel’s decision, and just now comes this story:

President Obama Likely to Order Military Commission Charges Dropped Against Terrorist Suspect Al-Nashiri Friday

February 05, 2009 5:46 PM

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Lindsey Ellerson

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ABC News has learned that on Friday, President Obama will likely order the Department of Defense’s Military Commission to withdraw charges against terrorist suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. The charges may later be reinstated in a military commission or pursued in a civilian court. Al-Nashiri will remain in custody.

The announcement will not be made until after President Obama meets with the families of victims of terrorist attacks on 9/11 and on the U.S.S. Cole, where he will assure them that this step is not being done to be lenient towards al-Nashiri. The move is being done to stop the continued prosecution of al-Nashiri in a court system that his administration may ultimately find illegitimate, not for any other reason, sources told ABC News.

President Obama has expressed concern about whether the military commissions set up by the Bush administration are the proper way to go forward in pursuing charges against the U.S. detainees, and on January 22 he asked all the judges supervising the trials of detainees for a continuance of 120 days, so a team of administration officials could review the best way forward.

In almost the cases, that continuance request was granted. But last week the judge supervising the al-Nashiri trial — Army Col. James L. Pohl, the chief judge at the Guantanamo Bay war crimes court — said he would not heed President Obama’s request for a 120-day continuance, or delay, in prosecutions of terrorism suspects. Pohl called the president’s request “not reasonable” and not “in the interests of justice.”

The arraignment of al-Nashiri is scheduled for Monday, February 9.

Al-Nashiri has been identified as the former Persian Gulf Operations Chief for al Qaeda and the mastermind of the attack on the U.S.S. Cole. In March 2007 he testified in military court that he only confessed to certain crimes because he has been tortured for the previous five years.

Asked for reaction to the news, Commander Kirk Lippold (Ret.), former Commander aboard the U.S.S. Cole when it was bombed on October 12, 2000, told ABC News that “I am concerned about the President considering dropping the charges because it may be indicative that the president does not intend to follow the military commissions process which has undergone extensive legal and legislative review.”

“For some reason the administration says what’s been expressed through the legislature is not sufficient,” Lippold said of the military commissions. “They need to allow the process to go forward.”

The 26-year Navy veteran said he found the decision to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay “disappointing,” but he seemed willing to hear the president out…[read more on this here]

I have actually been following a story today of the 9/11 families and the USS Cole survivors families expecting to meet the president at the White house today:

OBAMA INVITES 9/11 KIN TO WHITE HOUSE

By CARL CAMPANILE

Last updated: 4:58 pm

February 5, 2009

Posted: 12:52 pm

February 5, 2009

President Obama – under fire for suspending trials of suspected terrorists and phasing out Guantanamo military prison in Cuba – has invited family members of victims killed on 9/11 to the White House for a meeting tomorrow.



The White House sit down is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room.

Attendees told The Post they will urge Obama to swiftly prosecute the terrorists responsible for the evil 9/11 slaughter.



Relatives said they will grill the new president over his controversial plans to close Gitmo and temporarily suspend the trials against Gitmo detainees – including those who bragged of plotting to blow up the World Trade Center.



Retired Deputy Fire Chief Jim Riches – whose firefighter son Jimmy died at Ground Zero – was ticked off when Obama ordered those actions. Riches last month visited Gitmo and attended the trial of Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and other alleged 9/11 plotters, who stood up and admitted their guilt.



“We saw these people face to face. I want to tell the president what happened at Gitmo. That these detainees were laughing about what they did. I wish these trials were on TV. Americans would be outraged.”



“I don’t want what happened to my son happen to anyone else,” Riches said.



Riches said he was pleased that the White House agreed to meet 9/11 families and hopes the president shows up at the meeting. It was unclear if he would personally attend the staff meeting.



Debra Burlingame, whose brother, Charles, was the pilot of hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon, said she was eager to hear from the new commander-in-chief.



“I’m hoping it’s a substantative meeting,” she said. (here)

I have checked the White House site for mention of this. Apart from the Press Secretary Robert Gibbs repeatedly answering questions with “I don’t know”, or general bafflegab (you can read today’s briefing here if you are having trouble sleeping tonight,) there was no mention of this meeting taking place today.



From all I have read today, the 9/11 families and the USS Cole families are very upset about the plans to stall the military trials, and the closing of GITMO.

One I read:

9/11 Families Urge Obama to Continue Guantanamo Terror Trials

Three families of firefighters killed at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 want “a firm commitment” from Obama to prosecute suspects in the 2001 attacks.

NEW YORK — Three families of firefighters killed at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 want to meet with President Barack Obama to urge him to reverse his decision to suspend the trial of five detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who admit roles in the terror attacks.

In a meeting with reporters at their attorney’s office on Sunday, the families deplored what they called “delays and confusion” in the former Bush administration’s effort to prosecute suspects in the 2001 attacks, which killed about 3,000 people, saying they want “a firm commitment” that the same process won’t continue under Obama.

“Seven and a half years is a very long time for 3,000 families to wait,” said Maureen Santora, whose son was among the 343 firefighters killed when the twin towers collapsed after being struck by two hijacked jetliners. Nearly 2,800 people were killed at the World Trade Center, another 184 when a third hijacked jetliner struck the Pentagon and 40 when a fourth plane crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pa. The totals don’t include the 19 hijackers.

Along with Santora and her husband, Al Santora, a retired deputy fire chief, the delegation included retired deputy chief Jim Riches and his wife, Rita Riches, whose son was killed on Sept. 11, and Sally Regenhard, whose son also perished at the trade center.

The families’ position was spelled out in a brief letter mailed Sunday to Obama, requesting a meeting “at your earliest convenience.”

There was no immediate comment from the White House on Sunday…(more here at FOX )

Chuck Norris has some opinions on where GITMO should be IF BO insists on closing it:

Top 10 Reasons Gitmo Should Be on Alcatraz

When I heard about the possibility that the terrorist detention camp at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (Gitmo) will move to Alcatraz Island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, I got excited. Ideas from economic stimuli to renewed patriotism started flooding my mind.

Here are the top 10 reasons I believe Gitmo should be moved to Alcatraz:

10. D-Block. Not the hip-hop group, but the row of solitary confinement cells at Alcatraz. Need I say more? (Of course, “Gitmo and the Golden Gates” might make a hit rap song, too.)

9. It is rumored that “Dirty Harry” (Clint Eastwood’s notoriously tough San Francisco cop character) still roams the streets with his .44 Magnum. Would terrorists really try to escape if he were across the bay? Do they feel that lucky? Well, do they?

8. It would give Congress something better on which to spend those hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout money than the absolute waste of more Wall Street bonuses and partisan pork.

7. My buddy the Governator needs a bailout, and the new “Hasta la Vista, Alcatraz” tour could be a gigantic boost for California tourism.

6. It’s about time for a sequel to “Escape From Alcatraz,” called “Bet Your A– That You Better Stay on ‘The Rock.'”… [go read the rest of this here]

Need I tell you that Nancy Pelosi has something to say about Alcatraz?:

Pelosi Shrugs off Alcatraz as Possible Terror Detention Facility

Republicans opposing an Obama administration order to close Guantanamo Bay prison facility within a year suggest sending terror detainees to House Speaker Pelosi’s district.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday shrugged off Republican suggestions that the federal government reopen Alcatraz prison in her San Francisco district to house detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

President Obama this week signed an executive order calling for the closure of the prison at Guantanamo within the year. Republican Rep. Bill Young then suggested to White House counsel Greg Craig that the prisoners who could not be released back to their home countries or sent to a third country be put up in “the Rock,” the famous military installation and prison that closed down in 1963 and is now part of the National Park Service.

Asked whether that was a serious proposal, Pelosi said, “It is — no.”

“Perhaps he’s not visited Alcatraz,” Pelosi said of Young while displaying little sense of humor. “Alcatraz is a tourist attraction. It’s a prison that is now sort of like a — it’s a national park.”

That explanation didn’t stop House Minority Leader John Boehner from repeating the suggestion on Sunday, making that point that closing down Guantanamo by year’s end may not be the best plan considering the recidivism rate of terrorist detainees is about 12 percent.

“If liberals believe they ought to go, maybe we ought to open Alcatraz,” Boehner, R-Ohio, told NBC “Meet the Press.” Being reminded that Alcatraz is a national park, Boehner responded, “It’s very secure.”…[more here]



Yes, Alcatraz would be very secure, and with Chuck patrolling? Never mind, we’ll always have Harry – Reid that is. No such thing as NIMBY for him.

The insanity continues.

[Update: MoveAmericaForward has something to say on this, via Michelle Malkin here:

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