U.S. Detention Policy and Terror Trials

December 3, 2009

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A year after President Obama promised to close Gitmo, 210 people are still being detained.

Lawyers for the first detainee from Guantanamo Bay to face prosecution in the U.S. asked a federal judge last week to dismiss criminal charges against him. He says his lengthy detention overseas and the use of interrogation techniques "amounting to torture" violated his constitutional rights. The lawyers also maintain that the U.S. government made a "conscious and deliberate" decision to house their client for two years at secret Central Intelligence Agency "black sites" and subject him to so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" in an effort to make him an intelligence asset, rather than bring him to trial in the U.S. in a timely manner. An official from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan declined comment. Ghailani faces charges of conspiracy, murder, bombing of a U.S. Embassy, use and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction against U.S. nationals, and other charges under an indictment originally issued in 2001.

Also, the Justice Department recently announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks, and four others charged in the plot will be tried in civilian courts in New York this summer. All five had been held at Guantanamo Bay. The move is part of President Obama's plan to close the prison for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay.

Recently I spoke with Doug Cassel, Director of the Center for Civil and Human Rights at the University of Notre Dame and Worldview's Human Rights Contributor about the upcoming trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and U.S. detention policy within the so-called "War on Terror”.