Military Commissions: Legislative Development

Chief Prosecutor Statement on This Week's Hearing in the 9/11 Case

By Wells Bennett
Sunday, February 8, 2015, 10:00 PM

Here y'are.  Brig. Gen. Mark Martins' remarks begin as follows:

Good afternoon. On this day in 1949, the bill that ultimately became the Uniform Code of Military Justice was introduced into both houses of Congress, and on the same day two years later, the President prescribed the Manual for Courts-Martial. Creating uniformity of procedures across military services, this foundation of law and implementing rules not only reformed our military justice system over the ensuing decades but also came to serve as a firm basis for the procedures governing military commissions today. See 10 U.S.C. § 948b(c).

On the eve of another series of pre-trial sessions in United States v. Mohammad, et al., it is thus timely to call attention to the enduring and robust procedures that are demanded in all trials held under the Military Commissions Act of 2009. And for those who do not usually focus upon military courts or Guantanamo-related matters, it is also important to recall that each of the 122 individuals who continues to be securely detained here—whether or not facing trial for specific alleged crimes—may challenge his detention and conditions of confinement through a petition for habeas corpus in federal court. See Aamer v. Obama, 742 F.3d 1023 (D.C. Cir. 2014). Such detention under the law of armed conflict conforms to the standards of humane treatment required by Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. See U.S. Dep’t of Def., Review of Department Compliance with President’s Executive Order on Detainee Conditions of Confinement 4 (Feb. 20, 2009). This accountable framework of detention and trial is what the law requires, and those of us who have official duties within that framework are committed to faithfully carrying out the law.

The five Accused—Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin ‘Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi—stand charged with plotting the attacks of September 11th. Those attacks resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 persons. I emphasize that the charges are only allegations. The Accused are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Matters under consideration by a military commission in this or any other case are authoritatively dealt with by the presiding judge, and any comments addressing systemic issues that are the subject of frequent questions by observers should always be understood to defer to specific judicial rulings, if applicable.