Watching the Shadows
A federal appeals court on Oct. 20 upheld (PDF) a conspiracy conviction of the former personal assistant to Osama bin Laden. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that a military tribunal had jurisdiction to convict Ali Hamza Ahmad Suliman al-Bahlul. Bahlul was tried and convicted by a military commission created after September 11, 2001. A three-judge panel had thrown out the conspiracy conviction last year, and the Obama administration requested that the full appeals court reconsider the case. The issue in the case was whether the constitution grants Congress the ability to determine that conspiracy to commit war crimes is an offense triable by military commissions even though conspiracy crimes are not recognized as international war crimes. The majority determined that foreign nations could not have "a de facto veto power" over Congress' determination of which war crimes may be considered by a military tribunal:
Uruguay's Foreign Minister, Rodolfo Nin Novoa, on Oct. 7 urged a former Guantánamo prisoner, Jihad Diyab, to call off his hunger strike, stating that Montevideo is attempting to transfer him to another country. Diyab is a Syrian national who was held for 12 years in Guantánamo without being formally charged and was released in 2014 along with five other prisoners. Diyab started this strike two months ago demanding that he be reunited with his family. According to rights groups, Diyab is conscious although in weak physical condition. Novoa reiterated that his government will "continue looking for a better future for him and his family" and urged Diyab to abandon his hunger strike immediately.
A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Washington on Oct. 4 ruled (PDF) that four former high-ranking Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officials must testify in depositions in a lawsuit against two psychologists who designed the CIA torture program. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the lawsuit last year against James Mitchell and John "Bruce" Jessen, who allegedly designed torture techniques and persuaded the CIA to adopt these techniques as official practice. According to the lawsuit, they personally took part in many of the torture sessions and oversaw the entire program's implementation. The court order also requires the government to furnish documents requested by the psychologists. Although the federal government is not a party in the case, it filed motions to prevent the depositions, arguing that it could lead to an accidental disclosure of classified information. The court denied the request, and stated counsel for the parties must agree on scheduling the depositions and the best manner to conduct them efficiently.
The US Congress on Sept. 28 overrode President Barrack Obama's veto of a bill that will allow the families of 9-11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia. Obama had vetoed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), stating that it violates international standards of sovereign immunity, and may set a dangerous precedent for the US to be held liable by foreign courts. Obama stated that the decision was necessary to uphold US national interests. Congress voted overwhelmingly to override Obama's veto, with the Senate voting 97-1 and the House 348-77. This is the first veto overridden during Obama's presidency.
US President Barack Obama on Sept. 23 vetoed a bill that would have allowed 9-11 victims and their families to sue Saudi Arabia, citing concerns that it would open US diplomats and servicemen to suit abroad. Congress overwhelmingly approved the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) earlier this year, with support from both parties for the bill that would allow federal suits against foreign nations determined to have had a hand in terror acts. In rejecting the law, Obama stated:
The US House of Representatives on Sept. 15 approved a bill (PDF) that would temporarily block the transfer of detainees from the Guantánamo Bay detention camp. The bill, which passed with a 244-174 vote, would prevent transfers until a 2017 military budget is passed or until President Barack Obama leaves office. The Obama administration has cleared 20 of the remaining 61 detainees for transfer. The bill is not expected to survive, as the White House has threatened to veto even if the bill does pass through the Senate. Proponents of the bill argue it is necessary due to threat of recidivism. To date, more than 693 detainees have been released during the Bush and Obama administrations. According to a report from the Director of National Intelligence (PDF), 122 of these have returned to militancy, while others are "suspected" of having returned to terrorist activity.
Bill Weinberg rants about the current left-right convergence, and how the politics of the Hitler-Stalin Pact are being revived in the age of Trump and Putin. The recent appearance at the "progressive" (sic) Brooklyn Commons of a neo-Nazi-cohort-turned-9-11-conspiracy-guru exemplifies the "Red-Brown" politics of the contemporary "left"—also seen in the nearly universal position in favor of the genocidal dictatorship in Syria.
The US House of Representatives approved legislation (PDF) Sept. 9 that would allow US nationals to seek relief from foreign governments believed to have had involvement with a terrorist attack taking place within the US that caused physical damage to that citizen's person or property. The Act, titled the "Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act," would allow families of those killed in the 9-11 terrorist attacks to sue the government of Saudi Arabia. President Barack Obama is in opposition to the bill because of its major foreign policy implications, including the possibility that US approval of the Act would open the country up to receiving civil suits by foreign nationals in return. The Saudi government has warned that if such legislation is enacted it may begin selling off up to $750 billion in Treasury securities and other assets. The US government maintains that Saudi Arabia did not fund the 9-11 attacks. The bill was approved by the Senate in May, and Obama has threatened to veto it.