DECEMBER 26, 2013
The leftist human rights groups pushing for Guantanamo terrorists to be tried in the civilian legal system should take note that a famously liberal federal appeals court affirmed the Military Commission at Gitmo has jurisdiction in the case against an Al Qaeda operative who bombed a U.S. Navy ship in Yemen.
The ruling, issued by the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, is a blow to the powerful leftwing organizations—including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch—that have long fought to afford Islamic terrorists the same rights as American citizens. For years they have petitioned the Obama administration to try terrorists incarcerated at the U.S. Naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in federal court rather than the Military Commission created to hear the cases.
The Obama administration caved into the demands with a disastrous plan to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) and four conspirators in Manhattan a few years ago. The preposterous idea blew up in the administration’s face and KSM and his cohorts are being tried in the more appropriate Military Commission at Gitmo. Judicial Watch has been approved by the Department of Defense (DOD) to travel to Gitmo and has monitored many of the Military Commission hearings.
On every occasion JW witnessed a deep commitment to justice by military lawyers as well as the topnotch civilian attorneys assigned to the terrorist suspects. Additionally, the Department of Justice (DOJ) closely monitors all proceedings and deploys a number of lawyers to each hearing. Nevertheless, influential leftist groups continue to advocate on behalf of the Gitmo terrorists, demanding that they be brought to justice in the same civilian courts used by American citizens and residents.
The effort includes appealing to civilian judges, which is what Saudi Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri did. In 2000 the Al-Qaeda operative orchestrated the bombing of the Navy destroyer USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden. Seventeen American sailors were murdered and dozens were injured. Osama bin Laden’s terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the attack and in 2002 al-Nashiri was captured in the United Arab Emirates and charged with masterminding the bombing.
A DOD intelligence report describes al-Nashiri as one of Al-Qaeda’s most skilled, capable and prolific operational coordinators. JW has been present for all of his Gitmo proceedings, including his first one in November, 2011. Al-Nashiri appears physically fit, cocky and quite relaxed for a man facing death. Upon entering the courtroom he likes to wave at the observer gallery where family of USS Cole victims watch proceedings.
A few years ago al-Nashiri filed a lawsuit claiming that the Gitmo Military Commissions have no jurisdiction to prosecute him because the system only has authority to hear cases involving crimes committed during a state of war. When the Cole was bombed, the U.S. was not at war with Yemen, according to al-Nashiri’s lawsuit, and then-President Bill Clinton called it a peacetime attack. A federal judge slammed the lawsuit and al-Nashiri appealed to the 9th Circuit, which upheld the lower court’s ruling that the Military Commission does in fact have jurisdiction over his case.
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