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 Global Communications
The United Nations Department of Global Communications 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 Global Communications (UN DGC) as a nongovernmental organization 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 160 hearings to date.
The summary of the most recent 9/11 hearing is set forth below. For other hearing summaries and background information, see the ARCHIVE section.
PRE-TRIAL HEARINGS, 9/11: Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, et al.
January 20–31, 2021 Deposition Testimony Of
Dr. JAMES. E. MITCHELL and Dr. BRUCE JESSEN
Witnesses for the Defense
Judicial Watch observed the January 20–31, 2020, pretrial hearings for the 9-11 military commission from the telecast facilities at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland. The Monday session was closed for classified arguments, but the remaining sessions were attended by members of the prosecution team, defense teams, NGOs, and members of the public with family ties to the defense teams. Media presence was also high, with the added attendance by those who infrequently observe these hearings.
Although the morning of the first day of hearings began with objections to and arguments for and against examining the witnesses, the substance of the remaining hearings over the next two weeks featured the examination and cross-examination of Dr. James E. Mitchell* concerning the personnel, event locations, and fundamentals of the CIA’s renditions (RDI) program and Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs). The final day of the hearings marked the beginning of Dr. Bruce Jessen’s examination on the same topics. At the end of the hearings, defense counsel moved to compel Dr. Jessen’s return to GTMO for further testimony. The judge, however, did not believe that that was within the scope of his authority and suggested instead that Dr. Jessen continue his testimony by telepresence, if he was not available to come to GTMO.
The telecast security lock-out button was activated several times over those two weeks to prevent the potential dissemination of classified information, causing the video and audio feed to go dark and silent until the judge, prosecution, and witness determined what could be said publicly. This occurred in conjunction with “asked-and-answered” objections raised by one side or the other to prevent an examiner from using imprecise and indirect questioning in an effort to elicit incongruities or frustrated revelations. It also occurred in conjunction with objections raised as to “relevance,” when an examiner asked a witness to testify or opine about an absent person’s writing of which he had no direct knowledge, or it was unknown if the writing had been through a security review.
While the judge sustained several objections, he demonstrated a preference to overrule them. He would instead direct examiners to rephrase questions, refrain from reading to the media what was already in the record, and to ask direct questions, as opposed to stalking an answer out of the witness. The judge also allowed detainees to enter and exit the courtroom without pausing to stop the proceedings. These rulings marked a distinct difference in style from previous judges.
Drs. Mitchell and Jessen were rarely seen on camera during the hearings. When visible, they appeared to be in good physical health, wearing traditional American clothing. However, they also appeared distracted and uninterested in the proceedings. Both were ill-disposed toward the defense. Dr. Mitchell asserted that the defense had frequently over the years been responsible for publishing untruths about him and vilifying him. Dr. Jessen noted that he had informed the defense that these were the only two weeks he was willing to make himself available, since he had already been involved in many cases about detainees already, and his testimony remained unchanged. The doctors provided expansive answers upon examination and were generally polite, but neither appeared to trust either the prosecution or defense counsel during questioning.
The testimony given by Drs. Mitchell and Jessen demonstrated that they were far from the stereotypical brutes portrayed in the media but were instead thoughtful men who had been placed in a difficult position and managed to focus on the ethical completion of the tasks before them.
*Author of Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying to Destroy America, and also a long-time contractor for the SERE Schools and the CIA.
The abbreviated summary of Drs. MITCHELL and JESSEN’s deposition testimony is found HERE in the Archive Section on pages 2–91, with links to the “Unofficial/Unauthenticated Transcripts” from the Office of Military Commissions provided on pages 92 and 93.
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 United Nations DGC Briefing
- 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
- United Nation’s Commemoration of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons – September
- Observance of the International Day Against Nuclear Tests – August
- Summary of Meeting with North Africa and the Near East Delegation – February
- 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
- Summary of Meeting with Macedonian Delegation – July
- UNESCO Event Summary SREBRENICA – July
- 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
- Western Hemisphere – September
- 65th UN DPI/NGO Conference – August
- 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