PolySciFi Blog

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


Only In Guantanamo!

And now it's time for a new, semi-regular feature in which we send you the happenings and goings-on in America's wildest new beyond-the-reach-of-constitutional-rights vacation spot, Guantanamo! Today's item comes from a transcript of Mustafa Ait Idr's CSRT (Combatant Status Review Tribunal) hearing, in which our boy Mustafa attempts to defend himself from mystery allegations without the aid of counsel or any information about exactly what is being alleged! Remember, folks, for Mustafa to have any chance of avoiding indefinite incarceration, he's gotta show he is not an enemy combatant.

In reading a list of allegations forming the basis for the detention of Mustafa Ait Idr, a petitioner in _Boumediene v. Bush_, 04-CV-1166 (RJL), the Recorder of the CSRT asserted, "While living in Bosnia, the Detainee associated with a known Al Qaida operative." In response, the following exchange occurred:

Detainee: Give me his name.

Tribunal President: I do not know.

Detainee: How can I respond to this?

Tribunal President: Did you know of anybody that was a member of Al Qaida?

Detainee: No, no.

Tribunal President: I'm sorry, what was your response?

Detainee: No.

Tribunal President: No?

Detainee: No. This is something the interrogators told me a long while ago. I asked the interrogators to tell me who this person was. Then I could tell you if I might have known this person, but not if this person is a terrorist. Maybe it was a person that was on my team. But I do not know if this person is Bosnian, Indian or whatever. If you tell me the name, then I can respond and defend myself against this accusation.

Tribunal President: We are asking you the questions and we need you to respond to what is on the unclassified summary.

So! Pretty good so far, but watch out for the bonus round...

Subsequently, after the Recorder read the allegation that the detainee was arrested because of his alleged involvement in a plan to attack the U.S. Embassy in Sarajavo, the detainee expressly asked in the following colloquy to see the evidence upon which the government's assertion relied:

Detainee: ...The only thing I can tell you is I did not plan or even think of [attacking the Embassy]. Did you find any explosives with me? Any weapons? Did you find me in front of the embassy? Did you find me in contact with the Americans? Did I threaten anyone? I am prepared now to tell you, if you have anything or any evidence, even if it is just a very little, that proves I went to the embassy and looked like that [Detainee made a gesture with his head and neck as if he were looking into a building or a window] at the embassy, then I am ready to be punished. I can just tell you that I did not plan anything.


Tribunal President: Mustafa, does that conclude your statement?

Detainee: That is it, but I was hoping you had evidence that you can give me. If I was in your place--and I apologize in advance for these words--but if a supervisor came to me and showed me accusations like these, I would take these accusations and I would hit him in the face with them. Sorry about that.

[Everyone in the Tribunal room laughs.]

Tribunal President: We had to laugh, but it is okay.

Detainee: Why? Because these are accusations that I can't even answer. I am not able to answer them. You tell me I am from Al Qaida, but I am not an Al Qaida. I don't have any proof to give you except to ask you to catch Bin Laden and ask him if I am a part of Al Qaida....What should be done is you should give me evidence regarding these accusations because I am not able to give you any evidence. I can just tell you no, and that is it.
Yes, there's nothing funnier than making someone defend themselves from accusations that you won't tell them any details about! Oh, to be a fly on the wall at that tribunal room!

So, just as a thought-experiment: Someone you know is a member of Al Qaida. No, I'm not going to tell you who. No, you can't have a lawyer. Defend yourself.

Only at Guantanamo, folks!

Update: Jody requested the full transcript. I don't have it, just the parts excerpted in Judge Joyce Hens Green's opinion covering about 50 Gitmo detainees (Mustafa wasn't one of them). You can find that opinion here (PDF); the transcript starts on page 46. I think it's a pretty good opinion, although the censors made some of it impossible to understand.

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