by Joe Shea
April 19, 2014
13 YEARS LATER, U.S. TRIALS OF 9/11 SUSPECTS ARE STILL IN LIMBO
BRADENTON, Fla., April 19, 2014 -- It seems the U.S. Government is doing everything in its power to keep the trials of suspected 9/11 terrorists held at Guantànamo Bay from ever taking place.
They are doing it by repeated violations of defendants' human rights that may eventually ensure a general mistrial. Allegations published today in the New York Times today leave little else to conclude..
The coveted and precious right to a "speedy trial" guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution? For some of the defendants, their trials have already been delayed for as long as 13 years, even as some ask that America's constitutional values be observed, if not followed to the letter. Because they are considered prisoners of war, of course, some courts have held that the U.S. Constitution doesn't apply to these prisoners, and some have never even been charged with a crime.
But the Times story suggests that the Constitution is honored neither in spirit nor in practice at Guantànamo.
The Times offers a dramatic recent example:
"Two weeks ago," the paper reveals, "a pair of F.B.I. agents appeared unannounced at the door of a member of the defense team for one of the men accused of plotting the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"As a contractor working with the defense team at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the man was bound by the same confidentiality rules as a lawyer. But the agents wanted to talk," the Times reported Saturday.
"They asked questions, lawyers say, about the legal teams for Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other accused terrorists who will eventually stand trial before a military tribunal at Guantánamo.
Before they left, the agents asked the contractor to sign an agreement promising not to tell anyone about the conversation," the Times said.
"With that signature, Mr. bin al-Shibh’s lawyers say, the government turned a member of their team into an F.B.I. informant," said the Times.
It was just the latest example of official government agencies using illegal and unethical tactics to interfere with the Guantanamo suspects' trials.
One observer, using the word "bench" to indicate a judge, said the trial seems to have "three benches" - the real one, the FBI and the CIA (and perhaps a fourth if one includes the Pentagon), "each with a major influence" in the outcome of the trials, the Times said - if they ever occur.
Here are some of the other overt, covert or possibly inadvertent violations that were reported Saturday by New York Times reporters:
Glenn Sulmasy, a military law professor at the Coast Guard Academy told the Times, "...at some point it just becomes surreal. It’s like there’s a shadow trial going on and we’re only finding out about it in bits and pieces.”
The Times said the events were "a reminder that, no matter how much the proceedings at the island military prison resemble a familiar American trial, the invisible hand of the United States government is at work there in ways unlike anything seen in typical courtrooms.'
“'It’s a courtroom with three benches,' said Eugene R. Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School.
"'There’s one person pretending to be the judge, and two other agencies behind the scenes exerting at least as much influence,''" the Times quoted him as saying.
Given the large number of attempts to derail the trials, the obvious questions is, Why?
Why doesn't the United States want the suspected assassins of nearly 3,000 innocent Americans on Sept. 11. 2001, to come to trial?
What is it about the potential testimony the defense will offer that the government so desperately does not want to be heard?
And since such gross violations of judicial and professional conduct have already occurred, why hasn't the U.S. Supreme Court intervened and ordered trials to begin immediately under its supervision?
Perhaps the most important question of all remains to be asked: Who has orchestrated this unfunny comedy of errors?
Only two persons appear to have the power to wave an "invisible hand" over the FBI, CIA and Pentagon that would enable such skullduggery: They are the the President and the Attorney General of the United States.
Joe Shea is Editor-in-Chief of The American Reporter.