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The 2004 Guantanamo Military Commissions

Last week NPR’s Morning Edition aired a story about Guantanamo sketch artist Janet Hamlin saying, “When the secretive military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay began, only one courtroom sketch artist was allowed in. Her name is Janet Hamlin.” That’s not exactly correct.

Janet is a great artist and has done a great job visually documenting the tribunals created  under the Military Commissions Act of 2006. She has recently come out with a book of her drawings, “Sketching Guantanamo, Court Sketches of the Military Tribunals, 2006-2013″, that is a must buy. But I just want to set the record straight that the first Military Commissions were in 2004. The Supreme Court in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld found that they violated both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and The Geneva Conventions, and that the president did not have the authority to create them without authorization of Congress.

So, to be correct, when the secretive military tribunals at Guantanamo began, in 2004, only one artist was allowed in, me. Below are some of my sketches, never before posted -it was before I had a blog, done during four days in August 2004 at Guantanamo.

Above, NGO observers; below, members of the arabic language press.

I wasn’t allowed to portray the likenesses of the detainees or Guantanamo personnel.

Above Australian detainee David Hicks, seated, his military lawyers’ hand on his back. Hicks’ parents are in the left foreground.

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Posted in Military

Justices Dismiss Uighurs Appeal

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In October 2008 U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina ordered the release of 17 Uighur detainees from Guantanamo into the U.S.  That of course never happen as the order was immediately appealed by the government.  The DC Circuit ruled that only the President and Congress have jurisdiction over immigration matters, and attorneys for the detainees then appealed to the Supreme Court which agreed to hear what had now become a separation of powers case.

With some of the Uighur detainees, ethnic Chinese Muslims who feared persecution if returned to China, already resettled in other countries and the remaining soon to have new homes – see Saved by the Swiss – the Supreme Court chose to send the case back to the DC Circuit.

NYT story here.

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Posted in Courtroom

Judge Frees Gitmo Detainee

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Judge Ellen Huvelle yesterday ordered the government to release Mohammed Jawad, a young Guantanamo detainee whose confession under torture was thrown out by a military judge.  Though unlikely, criminal charges could still be brought against Jawad, an action the judge discouraged. “I hope the government will succeed in getting him back to Afghanistan,” Huvelle said.

In the sketch Jawad’s attorney, Maj. David Frakt, is pictured at the podium. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Ian Gershengorn is standing on the left.

NYT story here.

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Posted in Courtroom, Military

Judge Leon Orders Release of Another Guatanamo Detainee

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Mohammed El Gharani, a citizen of Chad, was captured in Pakistan seven years ago when he was 14 years old, and has been held at Guantanamo ever since.

The government’s case relied mainly upon the unsubstantiated statements of two other detainees, and in granting Gharani’s habeas petition, Judge Leon said, “a mosaic of tiles bearing images this murky reveals nothing about [Al
Gharani] with sufficient clarity, individually or collectively, that
can be relied upon by this Court.”  He ordered the prisoner released “forthwith.”

Washington Post story here.

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Posted in Courtroom

Judge Orders Release of 5 Gitmo Prisoners “Forthwith”

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Judge Richard Leon, a conservative Bush appointee, in the first ruling since the Supreme Court ordered habeas review of the government’s evidence in the Guantanamo detentions, ordered the release of five of the six detainees in Boumediene v. Bush. The judge said the Justice Department had relied solely on a classified documents from an unnamed source, and that its arguments were not persuasive.

In an unusual move, Judge Leon asked the government not to appeal his decision, saying “seven years of waiting for our legal system to give them an answer to their legal question is enough.”

Washington Post story here.

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Posted in Courtroom, Military

Urbina Frees the Uighurs

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Applause erupted in a packed courtroom today after Judge Ricardo Urbina ordered the government to bring 17 Chinese Muslims held at Guantanamo for the past seven years into his courtroom at 10am Friday.  The Uighur detainees, whom the government concedes are not enemy combatants, have no country willing to take them in, and return to China would likely mean imprisonment or worse.

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Judge further ordered that the Uighurs are not to be questioned or detained by immigration officials. “Nothing will happen to these people,” he said.

The government is likely to seek a stay of the order from the Court of Appeals.

Washington Post story is here.

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Posted in Courtroom, Military

Judge Vows Detainee Cases “Resolved This Year”

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At a second hearing this week resulting from the Supreme Court’s recent decision allowing Guantanamo Bay detainees to have their cases heard in civilian courts U.S. District Judge Richard Leon emphatically expressed his intent to move quickly. “The Supreme Court has spoken. They want this done. By God, we’ll get this done”.

Reuters story here.

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Posted in Courtroom, Military

Habeas Hearings for Gitmo Detainees Begin

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The ceremonial courtroom in Washington’s U.S. District Court was filled to capacity with more than 120 lawyers representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay, a dozen government lawyers, and various clerks, reporters and spectators. Another couple dozen lawyers for the detainees listened to the proceeding on conference call.

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At the conclusion of the hearing Judge Hogan remarked: “The government has to set aside
every other case pending before them and get these cases moving
first….People in all levels of government should understand that.”

AP story here.

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Posted in Courtroom, Military

A new court for Gitmo

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The U.S. Court of Military Commission Review held its first hearing yesterday in a borrowed courtroom a half block from the White House.

Back in June two military judges at Guantanamo ruled that the detainees brought before them could not be tried by the new Military Commissions, created  by Congress and the White House after the Supreme Court rejected the previous Commissions, because they had not been properly declared unlawful enemy combatants. At the time the government filed an appeal there was no court, just a mailing address in Virginia.

Meanwhile all war crime cases at Gitmo are on hold  because none of the more than 550 status review hearings determined that the detainees were “unlawful”.

AP story is here.

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Posted in Appellate Courts

Gitmo guilty plea

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David Hicks, a 30 year-old Australian who has been detained at Guantanamo since 2002, last night pleaded guilty to one count of material support for terrorism.

The drawing is from his first appearance before the military commissions in August 2004. Hicks, seated, is flanked by his attorneys, military – Maj. Michael D. Mori with his hand on Hicks’ shoulder, and civilian. Hicks’ parents are in the left foreground.

Washington Post story here.

 

 

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Posted in Courtroom, Military
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