Monday, February 11, 2008
Finally, let the adjudication begin! The United States has formally charged six suspects held at Guantanamo Bay for years with murder and conspiracy charges stemming from the Sept. 11 attacks and asked for the death penalty. The six suspects include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Pakistani national who claims to have planned the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. The U.S. government wants to try the six suspects — Mohammed, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, Mohammed al-Qahtani, Ramzi Binalshibh, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi and Walid bin Attash — together in the same proceeding. It will be the first U.S. military tribunal involving the death penalty since World War II. The tribunal system was established after the Sept. 11 attacks to try suspects the Bush administration termed enemy combatants, not subject to the U.S. court system. Many have been held at Guantanamo Bay for years without charges. Yet difficult questions remain before the proceeding can begin, including whether evidence obtained from Mohammed through the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" will be admissible. Mohammed was one of three terror suspects subjected to waterboarding, a technique that involves making suspects feel they are drowning. The technique has been repudiated as torture by the United Nations. Rules of the Guantanamo Bay tribunal bar the use of evidence gained through torture, as does an international treaty the United States has signed. But Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, a legal adviser at the Guantanamo prison camp, would not rule out the use of evidence gathered during the CIA interrogation of Mohammed. "The question of what evidence will be admitted, whether (involving) waterboarding or otherwise, will be decided in the court," Hartmann told the Reuters international news service. Civil rights groups in the United States questioned the fairness and legality of the tribunal system, Reuters said, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch.