Watching the Shadows
The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Oct. 24 upheld the conviction (PDF) of ex-Guantánamo detainee Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani in the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in Africa. Ghailani had appealed his conviction on the premise that his constitutional rights to a speedy trial had been violated by his lengthy detainment and interrogation by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Although the interrogation techniques that were used remain classified, the CIA has justified this practice as an effort to gain "critical, real-time intelligence about terrorist networks and plots." This appeal provided the court an opportunity to consider, and ultimately provide support for, the legal implications of US efforts to gain intelligence from terrorism suspects before prosecuting them. Ghailani's lawyer has said that he will appeal the case to the Supreme Court.
A military judge on Oct. 2 refused to suspend the pretrial hearings in a case against five Guantánamo Bay prisoners related to the 9-11 terrorist attack. Army Col. James Pohl reasoned that the measures taken to respond to the defendants' concerns were adequate to continue the hearings. The defense team claimed that the government's computer network was not secure. The lawyers alleged that confidential data, e-mails and private research went missing or were erroneously sent to the prosecution. The US Department of Defense stated that it will address the concerns. The next pretrial hearing is set for October 22 while no trial date is set.
The Joint Task Force at Guantánamo Bay said Sept. 23 that they would no longer issue daily updates on detainee hunger strikes. This announcement sought to effectively declared the end of the unprecedentedly broad, six-month long, prisoner protest. There are now 164 prisoners in Guantanamo, and as many as 106 were on strike at the peak of the protest in July. Only 19 detainees are still classified as on hunger strike. For those 19 prisoners, force-feeding continues. The hunger strike has brought attention to the prison, and caused US President Barack Obama to renew his pledge to close the facility.
A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled (PDF) Sept. 13 that the US government does not have to release photographs and videotapes taken during the investigation of Mohammed al-Qahtani's connection to the September 11 attacks. Al-Qahtani was held in Guantánamo Bay until his charges were eventually dropped. The videotapes depict al-Qahtani's interrogations, something the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) claims should be public record. However, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald stated:
We always say there's no vindication like getting it from both sides, but this is about as vindicating as it gets. Your trusty blogger has long taken pride that my name appears on the Jewish Self-Hating and/or Israel-Threatening (SHIT) List, compiled by some proverbial Zionist hoodlums who wish to intimidate critics of the settler state. I assume I won this honor through my bloggery, my anti-Zionist website New Jewish Resistance, and my interviews with Palestinian activists on WBAI over the years. It has certainly been very handy for me—I can trot out this impeccable credential every time some anti-Semite accuses me of being "pro-Zionist" for calling out Jew-hatred. So now I was just pleased to find that I have my own hateful little entry in Metapedia, a sort of Wikipedia for neo-Nazis. (See their flattering entry for Adolf Hitler.) So the next time some Zionist hoodlum accuses me of being "self-hating," I'll know just what to do...
Ron Paul's connections to the neo-fascist right are already well established, for those who are paying attention. Now it seems his longtime connection to the John Birch Society has led him deeper into the radical right nexus. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch blog, Paul is scheduled to speak at a confab sponsored by a wing of the "Traditionalist" schism that literally claims to be more Catholic than the Pope and has long been a magnet for sinister reactionaries. In this case, one of the fellow luminaries on the bill is the Italian neo-fascist leader Roberto Fiore.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Aug. 13 insisted that US drone strikes must operate within international law. The secretary-general hailed the country's lead role in UN peacekeeping operations and addressed the controversial weapons in a speech at the National University of Science and Technology in Islamabad, stating, "[a]s I have often and consistently said, the use of armed drones, like any other weapon, should be subject to long-standing rules of international law, including international humanitarian law. This is the very clear position of the United Nations. Every effort should be made to avoid mistakes and civilian casualties."
Military Judge Denise Lind on July 30 found Army Pfc. Bradley Manning guilty of violations of the Espionage Act for his disclosure of classified information to anti-secrecy organization Wikileaks. The judge, however, acquitted Manning of the more serious charge of "aiding the enemy." In 2010 Manning leaked more than 700,000 government documents, diplomatic cables and a controversial classified video of a 2007 US helicopter strike in Iraq that resulted in the deaths of numerous civilians and two Reuters journalists. The US Army formally charged Manning in July 2010, but his bench trial did not begin until last month at Fort Meade, Md., nearly three years after his initial arrest. Manning faces 136 months to life in prison. The court is expected to sentence Manning on later this week. Several advocacy groups have decried the verdict, with Wikileaks terming it "extremist," while members of the US government have praised it as evenhanded.