Abu Ghraib Closed by Iraqi Government

Earlier today, the Iraqi government announced that it has shut down the Abu Ghraib prison. According to Iraqi officials, the closure is due to growing concerns that Sunni insurgents in the area may have the capabilities to launch an attack against the prison, possibly freeing some of the roughly 2,400 prisoners. Those prisoners have now been moved to more secure locations in central and northern Iraq. It is unclear at this point whether Abu Ghraib will reopen if the Iraqi government is able to secure the area. Continue reading

Federal Courts v. Military Commissions: The Debate Isn’t Over

After last week’s conviction of Bin Laden’s son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith in Federal Court, Attorney General Eric Holder issued a statement praising the trial as a demonstration that Federal Court is the proper venue for high-profile terrorism cases. As I cited in a post earlier this week, Holder said of the trial:

“We never doubted the ability of our Article III court system to administer justice swiftly in this case, as it has in hundreds of other cases involving terrorism defendants. It would be a good thing for the country if this case has the result of putting that political debate to rest. This outcome vindicates the government’s approach to securing convictions against not only this particular defendant, but also other senior leaders of al Qaeda.” Continue reading

Abu Ghaith Convicted

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Bin Laden’s son-in-law, was convicted this week of conspiring to kill Americans and a series of other terror-related charges.

Abu Ghaith, was indicted nearly a year ago in The Southern District of New York, just a few blocks from the World Trade Center site, for his role in the September 11th attacks and as a senior associate of Bin Laden. Since news of Abu Ghaith’s indictment was first released last March, there has been a great deal of debate regarding whether SDNY was the appropriate forum for the trial. While many believed SDNY could hold a fair, safe trial for such a high-profile case, many opponents believed a military commission was a far more appropriate venue. Continue reading

Al Darbi Pleads Guilty

Alexandra Kutner is currently at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on behalf of the Center for Policy and Research 

Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza al Darbi spoke in both English and Arabic as he answered judge Air Force Col. Mark L. Allred’s questioning on Thursday. Clutching his prayer beads, al Darbi, a Saudi Arabian national, pled guilty to having joined with other members of al Qaeda in planning and preparing attacks against civilian oil tankers in Southwest Asian Waters. While al Darbi entered Court Room 1 knowing he was going to plead guilty to the charges, he listened attentively to each question and the detailing of every element of his charges. Despite being captured during the actual attack of the MV Limburg, al Darbi acknowledged today that he was complicit in the plot that lead to the explosion. Al Darbi will likely spend between 9 and 15 additional years in prison, possibly in his home country of Saudi Arabia.

There has been speculation that Al Darbi will testify against Nashiri, accused of plotting the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, in his upcoming trial, but this has been neither confirmed nor denied at this time.  Al Darbi is the sixth detainee to plead guilty at the military commissions and the first Saudi convicted of terror charges.

Alexandra Kutner, Research Fellow
Center for Policy and Research

US Considering Drone Strike Against Citizen

Yesterday afternoon, the Associated Press reported that the US is currently tracking an American citizen and terrorist suspect in Pakistan. While officials have not confirmed the identity of the man, they described him as an “al Qaeda facilitator” who is currently plotting attacks against the United States. Now the Obama administration is struggling with the question of whether to use the controversial drone program to eliminate him. Continue reading

KSM Releases Lengthy ‘Nonviolence’ Manifesto, Shows Nothing Has Changed

 

High-value Guantanamo detainee Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (“KSM”) has released a 36-page ‘nonviolence’ manifesto, filled with deeply extremist religious ramblings and advocating that Muslims should avoid using violence to spread Islam. What KSM fails to realize however, is that, while what he likely means is avoiding force, his hate-filled, extremist rant is nonetheless promoting violence, hate, and intolerance.  Continue reading

Study Finds NSA Surveillance Programs Ineffective

This morning, the New America Foundation released a study entitled “Do NSA’s Bulk Surveillance Programs Stop Terrorists?”,  which concludes that the NSA surveillance programs are not as effective as the government purports them to be. After analyzing 225 individuals recruited by al-Qaeda or similar groups, the New America researchers found that the government’s claims regarding the NSA surveillance programs’ effectiveness are “overblown and even misleading.” Continue reading

Drone Strikes Remain in CIA Territory

Six months after the White House announced that drone strikes would move from the CIA’s authority to the DoD, new reports state that the transfer will not be happening any time in the near future.  President Obama originally claimed that the transfer was meant to increase transparency and open up debate in regard to the controversial drone strikes across the Middle East.  While many will undoubtedly criticize the delay, the situation may not be as bad as it appears on its face.  In fact, it may be that keeping drone strike capabilities in the hands of the CIA will actually be a positive in the long run. Continue reading

Dispatch from Guantanamo Bay: US v. Mohammed

“It’s a Mixture of Kafka, Machiavelli, Catch 22, and George Orwell’s 1984.  It just depends on the day” – Major Jason Wright Defense Counsel for K.S.M.

            Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to Guantanamo from October 22nd through 25th to observe the Military Commission proceedings for United States v. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed et. al. Perhaps the most appropriate word to describe my observations is frustration.  Regularly during the week, the observable liberties afforded to each of the accused, including prayer time in the courtroom, freedom of attire, and remaining unshackled were only contradicted by the accusations of intentional sleep deprivation, confiscated attorney-client privileged material, and force-feeding. Furthermore, the interpretation of the Military Commissions’ rules and their applications were consistently debated, particularly with regards to how they should be implemented when other laws, such as international laws, hold inconsistent stances. Continue reading

Drone Strikes Linked to More Civilian Deaths

Despite claims that drone strikes in Pakistan have been effective and efficient, new reports are set to come out later this week that link the drone campaign with high civilian casualty rates, raising questions regarding the United State’s transparency in the ongoing drone war.   Continue reading