Terrorism Trials: Military Commissions

Statement from the Chief Prosecutor Regarding This Week's Hearing in United States v. Al-Nashiri

By Wells Bennett
Monday, June 10, 2013, 8:41 PM

You can find it here.  The Chief Prosecutor's statement begins as follows:

Good evening, and welcome to those here for the first time. Welcome back to those who have previously been to Guantanamo Bay to view or report on military commission proceedings. The month of June in the Caribbean is a hot one, and I join all who have urged you to remember to replace the fluids you lose by drinking plenty of water. I also encourage newcomers to measure your periods of outdoor activity until you have become acclimated.

Many visitors, frequent and rare, have commented upon the juxtaposition to be found here of physically beautiful tropical surroundings and relatively austere accommodations for important public criminal trials. It is the remoteness and comparative austerity of this place that make the presence of all of you so crucial. By taking the trip and enduring the heat and inconveniences, you are doing nothing less than helping to ensure this is an accountable process and one that is as open as possible. Throughout history, justice has been achieved in remote places as well as in readily accessible ones, in austere locales as well as in majestic settings. There are many sailors, soldiers, airmen, marines, coast guardswomen and men, civilian officials, and contract workers who of course make these hearings logistically possible, and for that I recognize and thank them. But your role is essential too, as is that of the media,nongovernmental organizations, and members of the public who attend the commission proceedings via closed circuit television from Maryland and as are, of course, the independent role of the trial judge, and the independent and adversarial roles of the defense counsel team, and of the prosecution.

For much is at stake in all of this. Abd Al-Rahim Hussayn Muhammad Al Nashiri stands charged with serious violations of the law of war for his alleged role in attacking the United States warship USS Cole and the French vessel MV Limburg and in attempting to attack the United States warship USS The Sullivans. Together, the attacks on the Cole and Limburg resulted in the killing of 18 people, serious injury to dozens of others, and significant property damage. I emphasize that the charges are only allegations, and Mr. Al Nashiri is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Tomorrow is the first of four days of continuing pre-trial sessions. The Military Judge’s order providing the motions he will hear is available on the military commissions website (Appellate Exhibit 151D), as are all the parties’ pleadings for the issues the Judge will consider. To further aid observers’ understanding and assessment of the contested issues raised, the government has made available binders containing copies of all the pleadings to the media and non-governmental organizations attending the sessions in Guantanamo Bay.