Developing nations, especially ones with emerging or fledgling democracies, look to America to study its institutions, laws and the ingenious balance of powers created by our Founding Fathers. Through various programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), delegates from these nations visit the United States and are put into contact with organizations like Judicial Watch. Since 2001, Judicial Watch has been a major participant in the Department of State’s IVLP and other leadership exchange programs, having received over 83 visiting delegations. As the premier Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigator in America today, Judicial Watch is one of the most sought after transparency and accountability organizations for personal meetings with emerging leaders from around the world who are interested in learning how they can stop corruption and demand accountability from their judges, government officials, and political parties.
The United Nations Department of Public Information
The United Nations Department of Public Information hosts monthly briefings and other workshops and an annual conference where representatives of NGOs from every corner of the world come together for the purpose of networking and collaborating on solutions to some of the world’s most challenging problems, from security issues such as crime and violence, hunger and disease, persecution and war, to major development issues of education, job opportunities, and women’s empowerment.
Judicial Watch is associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information (UN.DPI) as a nongovernmental organization (UN-DPI), whose mission is to promote transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law. It fulfills its educational mission through litigation, investigations, and public outreach. Its International Program serves as an integral part of its educational program.
Judicial Watch GTMO Observer Program
Judicial Watch was granted observer status by the Pentagon to observe the arraignment of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in June of 2008. Since the recommencement of the 9/11 hearings at Guantanamo Bay in November 2011, JW has attended 95 percent of the hearings held at the detention facility, as well as Periodic Review Board Proceedings (PRBs) currently held at the Pentagon. Judicial Watch staff and representatives have attended and monitored over 154 hearings to date.
The detainee background information and summary of the most recent hearing is set forth below. For previous hearing summaries, see the Archive section.
Subject of Hearing: Military Commission Hearings for 9/11: Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, et al.
The 9/11 Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, et al., military commission is a joint trial of five defendants charged with conspiracy, attacking civilians, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, murder in violation of the law of war, hijacking or hazarding a vessel or aircraft, and terrorism. The U.S. government asserts that together the defendants planned, supplied, enabled and worked to carry out the hijacking of the four airplanes used in the asymmetrical attacks of 11 September 2001. This military commission remains in the pre-trial phase.
Colonel Shane Cohen, detailed 3JUN2019, is the fifth judge to preside over the Military Commissions pre-trial and trial hearings for Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and the 9/11 conspirators. He follows Colonel Ralph Kohlmann (1MAR2007-NOV2008?), Colonel Stephen Henley (NOV2008?-17MAR2010), Colonel James Pohl (8APR2012-AUG2018), and Colonel Keith Parrella (27AUG2018-JUN2019). He authorized and underwent VOIR DIRE during the morning of 17JUN2019.
Pre-Trial Hearings, 9/11: Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, et al.
Week of July 22, 2019 – July 26, 2019
Judicial Watch, Inc. observed the 22-26 July 2019 pretrial hearings for the 9-11 military commission from the telecast facilities provided at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland. The open session on Monday was attended daily by between 7 and 20 representatives of the media, NGOs, mainland members of the prosecution and defense teams, observers from the Office of Military Commissions (OMC), and observers from the Military Commissions Defense Organization (MCDO). The members of OMC and MCDO polled other attendees on the present viewing accommodations and public perception of Judge Cohen.
The motions and arguments largely focused on the nature of discovery processing, the logistics of calling and recalling witnesses, and proposed methods and schedules for establishing a trial timeline:
- AE 118 N: Prosecution explained the nature of the two teams that handle security guidance and declassification services for the defense and prosecution, why more face-to- face meetings are feasible, how the SECRET-level e-mail inbox reserved for the defense functioned, and the accountability authorities governing the teams. The defense argued for the addition of a direct phone line for instant classification answers and stated a desire for a shorter timeline. The judge directed the prosecution and defense to propose a joint solution and stated his intent to rule after reading proposed solutions.
- AE 628 B: Prosecution and defense (Baluchi) co-presented the numbers of witnesses intended for calling during the September hearings.
- AE 637: Defense moved for the judge to compel neutrality in the Convening Authority. Convening Authority neutrality came into question because the prosecution obtained one of the defense interpreter’s working schedule documents as part of discovery.
- AE 635: Defense moved for the judge to compel the discovery and release of diplomatic correspondence documents discussing torture both before and after the events of 9/11. Prosecution argued for narrowing of temporal scope and type, if it is to happen at all, and asserted that “random members” of the Department of State do not necessarily represent whole U.S. Government policy in individual correspondence.
- AE 616: Defense moved for the judge to compel the appearance of a former-CIA interpreter who ended up in the defense pool of interpreters as a witness to determine if he was placed in the pool nefariously or mistakenly. Prosecution argued for either questioning by deposition or for extensive protective measures for the interpreter if he is to appear as a witness.
- AE 642: Defense moved for the judge to compel the production of government operational planning documents, in order to show the existence or non-existence of hostilities after Operation Infinite Reach and before the 9/11 events. Prosecution argued that the hostilities had been established by Osama Bin Laden’s declarations and asserted that all of the discovery requested on the events had already been produced.
- AE 639 and AE 639 I: These were motions for scheduling orders, both for the calling of witnesses for suppression motions and for the setting of trial timelines. In each, the defense generally favored the creation of a schedule based on meeting goalposts, where the prosecution favored the creation of a schedule based on hard dates.
The defense (Hawsawi) also called the JTF-GTMO Joint Commander of the Detention Group, Steven Yamashita, as a witness in arguing for greater laptop access for Hawsawi. The defense challenged that the commander did not have a full knowledge of Camp 7 security measures and could not properly evaluate the risks Hawsawi or the other detainees posed with access to laptops. The prosecution asserted that the commander is responsible for the safety of the detainees and the staff in all GTMO detention facilities and is justified in and has the authority for his determinations.
Several of the detainees donned what appeared to be Sindhi topi and Saraiki ajrak, a combination of traditional decorated hat and block printed shawl often associated as a gift given to someone held in high esteem. Though Hawsawi always wears traditional garb, the other four accused often don military camouflage jackets. Topi and arjak can be worn to celebrate Pakistani cultures, but July is not usually the time of year they are worn in celebration; the detainees may be responding to anticipation of greater civilian viewership and media reporting, in which topi and arjak would indicate their respectability or irreproachability to members of certain Middle Eastern countries.
Judge Cohen remains committed to transparency, fairness, and progress in the 9/11 proceedings. OMC and MCDO appear committed to evaluating and expanding the viewing sites, ensuring the perceived fairness of the proceedings, and monitoring the quality and quantity of the hearings made available to the public.
In the Media
The Hill published the following article by Thomas Wheatley, a participant in Judicial Watch’s GTMO Observer Program.
“Trump, honor Obama’s agreement to release Guantanamo detainee,”
The Hill, October 4, 2017
About Thomas Wheatley, https://www2.gmu.edu/news/424386
International Visitors and UN DPI/NGO Briefings
- Summary of UN Event: The Trade in Minors in the Digital Age – September 28, 2017
- Countries represented by international visitors to Judicial Watch in 2016:
Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Albania, Czech Republic, Georgia, Lithuania, Moldova, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Macedonia, Benin, Burkina Faso, Congo, The Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Togo, Finland, Georgia, Guatemala, India, Ireland, Kuwait, Lesotho, Nepal, Netherlands, Philippines, Vietnam, and South Sudan
- Wrap up for 2015
- Countries represented by international visitors to Judicial Watch in 2015:
Macedonia, Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH),Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, Algeria Brunei, Croatia, Egypt, Hungary, India, Lithuania, Malawi, Nepal, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, and Venezuela
- Wrap up for 2014
- Countries represented by international visitors to Judicial Watch in 2014:
China, Argentina, Columbia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Argentina, Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy, Republic of Kosovo, Moldova, Netherlands, Serbia, , Kenya, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Honduras
- Multi-Regional Delegation – The US Judicial System – Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burma, Timor-Leste, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Nigeria, Malawi, Pakistan, Portugal, Romania, People’s Republic of China, South Africa
- 11 Latin American Countries – Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela
- West Africa delegation
- Czech Republic
- Republic of China