(1) Victims Of TWAT
We still have detainees in Guantanamo who have been held there for years, without ever been charged with anything, not even before a military commission:
Hambali (who “is accused of leading the Jemaah Islamiah group, an organization allied with al-Qaeda that is accused of staging the 2002 Bali nightclub bombing”) was captured in Thailand in August 2003 and was held in a secret CIA prison until September 2006, when he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay. He is among 16 detainees held at the top-secret Camp 7 at Guantanamo Bay, but he has never been charged in a military commission.
(2) Warriors In TWAT
One of the strangest battles in TWAT is the fierce competition between U.S. Attorneys to handle the prosecutions of top Guantanamo detainees. Apparently, the Attorney General himself had to be brought in to adjudicate the assignment of cases:
The U.S. attorney’s offices in Alexandria and Manhattan are embroiled in intense competition over the opportunity to prosecute Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and his co-conspirators, according to Justice Department and law enforcement sources.
At a time when many state officials are determined to keep suspected terrorists out of their jurisdictions, federal prosecutors are in a hidden struggle to have potentially history-making trials held in their districts. “There’s competition on all of these guys, and that’s to be expected — these are big cases,” said a Justice Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity Monday because of the sensitivity of the deliberations.
In an effort to meet President Obama‘s commitment to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by January, the Justice Department has begun to send the files of approximately 30 detainees to U.S. attorney’s offices in the District of Columbia, Alexandria and the Southern and Eastern districts of New York. Federal prosecutors are being asked to determine which terrorism suspects can be tried in federal criminal court, according to Justice Department sources.
Justice Department officials expect each federal jurisdiction to end up with a handful of high-profile criminal trials.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. met separately with the U.S. attorneys from various jurisdictions last week amid what two law enforcement sources described as fierce lobbying over the assignment of cases.
“Holder was brought in to hear people out,” said one law enforcement source in Virginia. Officials at the U.S. attorney’s offices in Alexandria, the District and New York declined to comment.
I have serious trouble understanding why prosecutors would be fighting for the right to try cases that are tainted through and through by the Bush administration’s charming torture practices. I can’t imagine it does much to advance your career when you try to prosecute Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and get nowhere because the judge throws out almost all the evidence against him as tainted. I can’t imagine your career prospects are improved by standing up in court, and squirming to defend or explain Khalid Sheikh Mohammed being waterboarded 183 times in just one month.
(3) ReluctanceTo Host Battles IN TWAT
The city of Alexandria, after the experience of hosting the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, does not want any more high profile prosecutions handled by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Alexandria:
An outcry is growing in Alexandria over a prospect no one seems to like: terrorist suspects in the suburbs.
The historic, vibrant community less than 10 miles from the White House markets itself as a “federal friendly zone.” But it has turned decidedly unfriendly to news that the Obama administration might move some detainees from their highly controlled military fortress at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Alexandria to stand trial at the federal courthouse.
“We would be absolutely opposed to relocating Guantanamo prisoners to Alexandria,” Mayor William D. Euille (D) said. “We would do everything in our power to lobby the president, the governor, the Congress and everyone else to stop it. We’ve had this experience, and it was unpleasant. Let someone else have it.”
The 2006 death penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, who was convicted of conspiring in the terrorist attacks of Sept, 11, 2001, turned the neighborhood into a virtual encampment, with heavily armed agents, rooftop snipers, bomb-sniffing dogs, blocked streets, identification checks and a fleet of television satellite trucks.