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Entries in Guantanamo Bay (9)

Tuesday
Jul302013

Detainees at Secretive Guantanamo Camp Read 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

John Moore/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- High-value detainees at Guantanamo Bay's secretive Camp Seven enjoy the Fifty Shades of Grey series of novels, according to a congressman who recently toured the base.

The Huffington Post quoted Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) who recently received a tour of the secret camp from military officials as part of a congressional delegation. Moran said, "Rather than the Quran, the book that is requested most by the [high-value detainees] is Fifty Shades of Grey."

Moran was joined on the tour by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and former Pentagon Chief of Detainee Policy William Lietzau.

The tour was led by the commander of the base, the deputy commander, the head medical official and the officer in charge of Camp Seven.

According to the Huffington Post, Moran said that the conditions in Camp Seven are comparable to maximum security federal prisons. However, military officials do not publicly acknowledge the existence of Camp Seven.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun302011

CIA Cleared in All But Two Interrogation Investigations

Danita Delimont/Gallo Images/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday it is closing all of its investigations into the Central Intelligence Agency's controversial enhanced interrogation program without further legal action, except in the case of two incidents in which detainees perished.

The investigations by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham into the alleged mistreatment of detainees by the CIA, which covered the experiences of more than 100 detainees, concluded that, not including the two fatal cases, "an expanded criminal investigation of the remaining matters is not warranted," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a press release. Beyond finding that the CIA officers acted "in good faith and within the scope of legal guidance" given them, in some instances Durham found the detainees were never in CIA custody at all.

CIA Director Leon Panetta said had been informed of the department's findings and he "welcomed" the news.

"We are now finally about to close this chapter of our Agency's history," he said. "As Director, I have always believed that our primary responsibility is not to the past, but to the present and future threats to the nation."

Panetta, who is on his last day as the spy chief before heading to his new job as the Secretary of Defense, said the agency will "of course" continue to cooperate in the two cases of detainee death that Holder said required further investigation. Earlier this month, Time magazine reported Durham had begun calling witnesses before a secret federal grand jury concerning his investigation into the 2003 death of Iraqi prisoner Manadel al-Jamadi, known as "the Iceman."

The inquiry into the CIA's interrogation program initially grew out of a 2008 probe into whether the CIA had purposefully destroyed nearly 100 interrogation tapes. The tapes purportedly show CIA agents using harsh interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, on terror suspects. No charges were filed at the conclusion of that investigation.

The use of such enhanced interrogation techniques and the ensuing scandal created such tension between the White House and the CIA that at one point in a heated argument in 2009, Panetta reportedly threatened to quit his post. More recently, controversy surrounding the technique reemerged after several former officials said that it was key to gaining the intelligence that led to the successful operation against al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden -- a claim vehemently disputed by others, including Sen. John McCain, who was himself a torture victim during the Vietnam War.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun232011

Kentucky Terror Arrests Fuel Ongoing Battle: Guantanamo or US Courts?

John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Although it is far from the headlines, the battle over where to try terrorism detainees wages on between Attorney General Eric Holder and Congress.

In the latest salvo, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky argued Wednesday that the two alleged terrorists arrested in his home state should be sent to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba, after Holder criticized Congress last week for blocking efforts to bring detainees from Cuba to U.S. soil for trial.

Holder, speaking Thursday to a friendly crowd of lawyers at the American Constitution Society, reiterated his belief that civilian courts are more than capable of handling terrorist trials.

"Our criminal justice system has proven...time and again, that it provides all the authority and flexibility we need to effectively combat terrorist threats," he said. "Since 9/11, hundreds of individuals have been convicted of terrorism or terrorism-related offenses in civilian courts."

Holder said in November 2009, with great fanfare, that the alleged mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, would be tried in civilian courts in New York. But the decision was later overturned by the Obama administration after state officials and congressional Republicans expressed security concerns.

Since then, Congress has stymied efforts to transfer detainees to U.S. soil.

Holder has consistently maintained that accused terrorists should be tried in either civilian courts or military commissions, depending on the circumstances of the specific case. But Holder's speech Thursday was directed at the criticism of using civilian courts.

He said the Article III court system was the country's "most effective terror-fighting weapon" and that "in disrupting potential attacks and effectively interrogating, prosecuting and incarcerating terrorists, there is, quite simply, no more powerful tool than our civilian court system."

McConnell pushed back hard Wednesday in the Washington Post, writing that Holder insulted those on the front lines when he suggested the courts were the "most effective terror-fighting weapon." He also accused Holder of attempting to "justify the Obama administration's two-year misadventure in treating captured terrorists like common criminals."

McConnell pointed to a case brewing in his home state of Kentucky, where two Iraqi nationals -- Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi -- were arrested last month in Bowling Green and indicted for allegedly providing assistance to al Qaeda in Iraq.

In his op-ed article, McConnell presented the case for moving the men to Guantanamo.

"The Justice Department says Alwan and Hammadi should be tried in a civilian setting because they were caught here," he wrote. "This is ludicrous."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr042011

Confessed 9/11 Mastermind to Be Tried At Gitmo

FBI/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a sharp reversal of the Obama administration's policy on trying Sept. 11 suspects in U.S. courts, mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-conspirators will be tried in a military commission at Guantanamo Bay.

Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday placed the blame squarely on Congress for creating conditions where the Department of Justice cannot try them in a federal court, saying their decision would gravely impact U.S. national security and counterterrorism efforts.

They "tied our hands in a way that could have serious ramifications," he said Monday. "In reality, I know this case in a way that members of Congress do not. Do I know better than them? Yes."

Mohammed was to have been tried in New York City, but city officials strongly objected to the move and Congress refused to appropriate funds to house Guantanamo inmates on mainland United States and to provide funds for a trial of extraordinary expense.

Holder said he stands by his decision to try the terror suspects in U.S. federal courts, but was forced to resume the military commission because realistically, "those restrictions are unlikely to be overturned in the near future." He added that the Obama administration still intends to eventually close the detainee center altogether, as the president had announced after becoming president.

Obama, both as candidate and as president, strongly objected to the military tribunals set up by the Bush administration. In 2006, he said their structure was "poorly thought out" and immediately upon taking office, he signed an executive order to close the detainee center at Guantanamo Bay. He later said that the tribunals "failed to establish a legitimate legal framework and undermined our capability to ensure swift and certain justice."

Mohammed confessed to his role in the attacks in 2008. He will be tried alongside Walid Muhammed Salih Mubarak Bin Attash, Ramzi Bin Al Shibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed Al Hawsawi, the four Sept. 11 co-conspirators Mohammed was undergoing proceedings with the first time around.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec072010

Director of National Intelligence: Gitmo Detainees Transferred Under Obama Administration Have Re-engaged in Terrorism

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A declassified summary of a report about detainees formerly held at Guantanamo Bay, written by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, reported that of the 66 former Guantanamo detainees transferred since President Obama took office, “two are confirmed and three are suspected of re-engaging in terrorist or insurgent activities.”

The Bush administration freed many more so-called recidivists, the report stated, having transferred 79 confirmed and 66 suspected of subsequently “re-engaging in terrorist or insurgent activities after transfer.”

As of October 1, 2010, the report stated, 598 detainees have been transferred by the Pentagon from Gitmo into the custody of other countries. “The Intelligence Community assesses that 81 (13.5 percent) are confirmed and 69 (11.5 percent) are suspected of re-engaging in terrorist or insurgent activities after transfer. Of the 150 former GTMO detainees assessed as confirmed or suspected of re-engaging in terrorist or insurgent activities, the Intelligence Community assesses that 13 are dead, 54 are in custody, and 83 remain at large.”

Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes issued a statement in response to the report, saying that the "President and our military commanders agree that closing the prison at Guantanamo is a national security imperative in the war against al Qaeda. The President has also made it clear that he will move toward that goal in a way that best protects the American people. We take any incidence of recidivism very seriously.  We will deal with recidivists the way we deal with any individual who threatens our national security: by working to bring them to justice.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

Saturday
Nov132010

Alleged 9-11 Mastermind Won't Soon Face US Trial, Report Says

Photo Courtesy - FBI/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The alleged mastermind of the 9-11 attacks is expected to remain in military detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, without going to trial, as once planned.

The Washington Post reports that administration officials now believe Khalid Sheikh Mohammed cannot be put on trial in federal court in New York City until at least after the 2012 presidential election because of fierce opposition from members of congress and local officials.

The U.S. this week said it was "close to a decision" regarding the timing and location of the trial.

"The process is an ongoing one, we are working to make a determination about the placement of that trial," said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Following Holder’s comment, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., released a statement voicing his concern, saying, "the trial should not and will not be in New York."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct132010

First Civilian Trial for Gitmo Detainee Gets Underway

Photo Courtesy - John Moore/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The first civilian trial for a detainee once held in the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba got underway Tuesday in a New York City courtroom.

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani is alleged to have helped build the bombs that exploded at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August of 1998.  A dozen Americans were among the 224 people killed in the blasts that were allegedly plotted by al-Qaida.

Ghailani’s trial was supposed to have started last week, but the judge wouldn't allow the prosecution’s star witness to testify.  The defense successfully argued the witness’ testimony against Ghailani was inadmissible because the information was coerced out of him during what lawyers alleged were harsh interrogation techniques employed overseas.

The government decided to move ahead with the trial without calling upon the witness.  Ghailani contends he’s innocent and that he didn’t know what he was delivering would be used to bomb the embassies.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct062010

Update: First Civilian Trial for Gitmo Detainee Delayed

Photo Courtesy - John Moore/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The first civilian trial of a Guantanamo Bay detainee has been put on hold.  Opening arguments were expected Wednesday in New York for the case against detainee Ahmed Ghailani, but in a blow to prosecutors, a judge has ruled the government cannot call its most important witness at the trial.  Court has been delayed until Oct. 12 while prosecutors decide whether to appeal.

Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan's ruling blocks the government from calling the man who authorities said sold explosives to defendant Ghailani.  Defense lawyers say investigators only learned about the witness after Ghailani underwent harsh interrogation at a CIA-run camp overseas.

Ghailani is the only Guantanamo inmate to have been transferred into the civilian court system.  If the trial ends with a conviction and heavy sentence, it could help the Obama administration's case for closing Guantanamo and bringing five alleged Sept. 11 plotters to New York to face trial, including 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Ghailani is not linked to the Sept. 11 attacks, but is charged with playing a key role in the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.  However, since his profile is similar to those involved in the 9/11 attacks, his case has been viewed as a test for civilian prosecutions of terror suspects.

Until recently, Ghailani spent years imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay without legal protection, which could complicate the trial.  Fordham Law School's Jim Cohen says, "There's secret evidence for lots of different reasons and it's not clear how much secret evidence there will be in this case."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct062010

First Civilian Trial for Gitmo Detainee Begins

Photo Courtesy - John Moore/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Opening arguments are expected Wednesday in New York in the first civilian trial of a Guantanamo Bay detainee.  Ahmed Ghailani is the only Guantanamo inmate to have been transferred into the civilian court system.  If the trial ends with a conviction and heavy sentence, it could help the Obama administration's case for closing Guantanamo and bringing five alleged Sept. 11 plotters to New York to face trial, including 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.


Ghailani is not linked to the Sept. 11 attacks, but is charged with playing a key role in the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.  However, since his profile is similar to those involved in the 9/11 attacks, his case has been viewed as a test for civilian prosecutions of terror suspects.

Until recently, Ghailani spent years imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay without legal protection, which could complicate the trial.  Fordham Law School's Jim Cohen says, "There's secret evidence for lots of different reasons and it's not clear how much secret evidence there will be in this case."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio