Tag Archives: Guantanamo Bay

9/11 Mastermind to be Tried in New York

The alleged mastermind of the September 11th attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will be tried for his crimes in New York City. Mohammed, Walid bin Attash, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, and Ramzi Bin al-Shib will be tried by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. 5 other detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison (Omar Khadr, Mohammed Kamin, Ibrahim al Qosi, Noor Uthman Muhammed and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri) will be tried by a military commission, CNN. Profile: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, BBC News.

In Canada, the Supreme Court is hearing an appeal by the government that seeks to remove an order by a lower court that Canada must do everything possible to bring Omar Khadr back to Canada. Khadr is a  Canadian citizen who was captured as a child soldier in Afghanistan when he was just 15 years old. He has been held in Guantanamo for the past 8 years, Toronto Star.  Watch the hearing live on C-SPAN2.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will hold a press conference about Guantanamo Bay detainee trials at 11am EST today. Watch live on C-SPAN.

The U.S. seized a New York City skyscraper and 4 mosques suspected of illegally funneling money to Iran today. The buildings were under the control of an Iranian foundation that was set up during the reign of the Shah of Iran. After a coup displaced the Shah in 1979, the members of the foundation were replaced with supporters of the current government, ABC News.  The U.S. also renewed financial sanctions against Iran yesterday, Reuters.

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Karzai Agrees to Runoff Election

The CDC reports that over half of those hospitalized with the H1N1 virus in the U.S. are under the age of 25. Only seven percent are over the age of 65, and 12 percent of deaths from the virus are elderly. This is a huge difference from the seasonal flu, which finds that 90 percent killed and 60 percent hospitalized are over the age of 65, Reuters.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has agreed to a runoff election after a UN report found that there was no way for Karzai to have legally won the August presidential election. At the press conference, Karzai was joined by U.S. Senator John Kerry, who is credited with pressuring Karzai to agree to a runoff. The vote will occur on Nov. 7th, Wall Street Journal.

The U.S. Senate passed a bill today allowing Guantanamo Bay detainees to be tried on U.S. soil. The bill states that the government must be provided with an assessment of security risks before an inmate can be brought to the the U.S. The passing is seen as a positive step in helping close the prison, BBC News.

Hot Topic: Leader of China’s Uighur Minority Builds a Stage Across the Globe.

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Iranian Opposition Leader Claims Protesters Being Killed in Jail

Mehdi Karroubi, who ran in the latest Iranian presidential election, is claiming some protesters have been tortured to death while in police custody. Karroubi and numerous human rights groups have previously claimed that male and females prisoners are being raped. Officials denied this, but did admit that some abuse has taken place, BBC News.

Officials visited a Michigan maximum-security prison today to determine if it could house Guantanamo detainees. If found suitable, the prison in Standish could receive 229 detainees and the move could also help out the town by allowing the prison to stay open and creating 340 jobs, AP.

Electric guitar legend Les Paul died today at the age of 94. Paul is famous for creating solid-body guitars and multitrack recording, USA Today.

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WHO Declares Swine Flu Pandemic

The World Health Organization has declared a global flu pandemic based on the growing spread of the swine flu, or H1N1, in many regions of the world and now 74 countries. Health experts had developed the pandemic protocols based on much deadlier flu scenarios such as the bird flu, or H5N1. The swine flu is not nearly as deadly but officials are fearful that the virus could mutate, BBC News. Three more people have died from H1N1 in New York City, bringing the total to 15 there, Fox44 News. Hong Kong has ordered all its daycares and primary schools shut in an effort to keep the virus from spreading, Voice of America.

Five American contractors being held in the death of James Kitterman, owner of a Houston, Texas based contracting company, were ordered released by an Iraqi judge due to insufficient evidence. Two will remain in custody in Iraq on drug charges, Associated Press.

Palau and Bermuda will take some of the 17 Chinese nationals who are still being held at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay despite court orders from as far back as 2003 clearing the individuals to be released, AFP. The Uighurs are an ethnic group of mostly Turkish descendants in central Asia. Many live in China and international reports indicate that China discriminates against the group.  22 Uighurs were held at Guantanamo Bay. The men were picked up at a camp in Afghanistan but have never been linked to terrorism or  expressed hatred against the United States. Some of the Uighurs have been released to Albania though China has requested they be sent home to face charges there. Experts suspect that they will be executed if returned to China.

Demonstrators march in support of Iran’s presidential candidates. Women account for about 65% of the voting population in Iran and 70% of the population is less than 30 years old.  President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s main opponents are Mirhossein Mousavi, a reform candidate and Mehdi Karoubi who is the major liberal candidate. Mousavi’s support has been rising in recent days with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators taking to the streets to show their support. However, Karoubi could spilt the liberal-reform vote. Some analysts predict the election will be forced into a run-off between President Ahmadinejad and Mousavi, Reuters.


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Live Post: President Obama’s Remarks on the Closing of Guantanamo Bay

11:44 EDT TPM has a better live blog of Cheney’s remarks due to Joshua Micah Marshall’s superior ability to actually listen to what Cheney says. And a good commentary on Obama’s speech by Andrew Sullivan.

11:40 EDT Oh, I thought the speech was over, but Cheney just had to pause for a drink of water. It will be interesting to see how the media plays this and who they say won the “debate”.

11:30 EDT “So we’re left to draw one of two conclusions – and here is the great dividing line in our current debate over national security. You can look at the facts and conclude that the comprehensive strategy has worked, and therefore need to be continued as vigilantly as ever. Or you can look at the same set of facts and conclude that 9/11 was a one-off event – coordinated, devastating, but also unique and not sufficient to justify a sustained wartime effort. Whichever conclusion you arrive at, it will shape your entire view of the last seven years, and of the policies necessary to protect America for years to come.” [no! there are not only two conclusions to draw from this! seriously, how can you argue with someone who thinks like this?]

11:25 EDT “Everyone expected a follow-on attack, and our job was to stop it. We didn’t know what was coming next, but everything we did know in that autumn of 2001 looked bad. This was the world in which al-Qaeda was seeking nuclear technology, and A. Q. Khan was selling nuclear technology on the black market. We had the anthrax attack from an unknown source. We had the training camps of Afghanistan, and dictators like Saddam Hussein with known ties to Mideast terrorists.” [wow. Cheney is still push the Saddam Hussein link to terrorism. How can anyone have an argument with this guy when he just makes stuff up?]

11:22 EDT Cheney starts speech at AEI with unclassy “joke” about how long Obama’s speech took.

11:18 EDT Wrapping Up. “The terrorists can only succeed if they swell their ranks and alienate America from our allies, and they will never be able to do that if we stay true to who we are; if we forge tough and durable approaches to fighting terrorism that are anchored in our timeless ideals.”

11:10 EDT Will apply stricter test to “State Secrets” privilege. Still opposes creation of an independent commission- Congress is investigating and has authority to investigate [I agree with this- after rolling over during the Bush years, Congress needs to exercise some of its Constitutional powers.].

11:06 EDT Washington Independent has text of Cheney’s AEI speech that he will give immediately following Obama’s speech. I’ll be interested to see if he makes any changes.

11:05 EDT Security and Transparency: Defends release of Bush administration torture memos b/c practices in those memos are banned and defends blocking release of torture photos b/c they would inflame anti-American opinion- it would endanger the troops. [It’s almost like we are so not used to dealing with thoughtful judgment that we can’t understand the difference between these too cases.]

11:00 EDT Strategy for dealing with detainees: 1) will try detainees in US courts if they’ve violated US laws. 2) will use military courts if necessary. George Washington used military courts. Military courts will follow rule of law- evidence obtained by use of torture is offlimits. 3) 21 detainees have already been ordered released by the courts. 19 before Obama took office. 4) 50 detainees are approved to be transferred to other countries. 5) detainees we have no evidence on but that we think are a danger to US- still not sure what to do with them. “I will not release individuals who are a danger to the American people”.

10:50 EDT Obama is squarely placing blame for this situation on Bush administration. Cheney was supposed to begin speaking at the American Enterprise Institute at 10:45. It was reported earlier that he said he would wait until the President had finished. Obama is about halfway through his speech. Washington Post reports that the audience at AEI is listening to Obama’s speech.

10:45 EDT Guantanamo only resulted in three convictions. Previous administration already released 2/3 of prisoners. Guantanamo is symbol that creates more terrorists- makes America weaker. 240 prisoners are still in Guantanamo. We are cleaning up something that is – quite simply – a mess; a misguided experiment that has left in its wake a flood of legal challenges that my Administration is forced to deal with on a constant basis, and that consumes the time of government officials whose time should be spent on better protecting our country.”

10:40 EDT Obama categorically rejects use of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’- says they do not work and they undermine rule of law. Pres. quotes McCain: “As Senator McCain once said, torture ‘serves as a great propaganda tool for those who recruit people to fight against us.'”

10:36 EDT Advance text of Obama’s speech, New York Times.

10:35 EDT Most important responsibility is to keep people safe, etc. Documents in Archives are not just aging parchment. Must not turn back on principles of Constitution.

10:28 EDT Obama takes podium. The speech is at the National Archives and I can’t think of a better place to give this kind of speech. He is standing directly in front of the Constitution. What a change from the previous administration. It will be interesting to see what Cheney’s response is. If you ever get a chance to go to the Archives, don’t miss it.

10:25 EDT President Obama is expected to begin speaking shortly. He will be answering criticism by former Vice President Dick Cheney, among others, who say that closing the prison will not keep Americans safe and that the Obama administration does not have a plan for closing the prison. Watch live on CNN. Audio of the remarks at Whitehouse.gov/live.

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Over 50 Dead in Deadly Plane Crash in Indonesia

Over 50 people have been killed in a plane crash in Indonesia according to initial reports. Eyewitnesses say the plane was completely destroyed and two people living in the area have been reported killed. At least 109 passengers and crew were on the plane, BBC News.

An arrest warrant has been issued for a missing mother who refused to allow her cancer-stricken son to get chemotherapy treatments. The warrant was issued after she missed a court hearing scheduled for yesterday. She has not been seen since and her son, 13-year-old Daniel Hauser, is also missing. A Minnesota court ruled that Daniel would have to undergo chemo treatments to treat his Hodgkin’s lymphoma, with doctors saying he has an 80 to 95% chance of survival if treated, CNN.

Senate Democrats have blocked President Obama’s request for $80 million to close the Guantanamo detention center. Legislators are worried that the over 200 detainees will have to be moved to the United States and are trying to send the prisoners to other countries instead, NY Times.

A small aftershock shook L.A. today, two days after a 4.7 earthquake hit the area. No damage or injuries were reporting after either quake, AP.

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Sri Lankan President Says Fighting to End Within 48 Hours

Sri Lanka says the military crackdown on the Tamil Tiger rebels should end in 48 hours. The Sri Lankan army has pushed the rebels, along with Tamil civilians, into a 1.5 square mile area in northern Sri Lanka along the coast. Conditions are very poor there and the only semi-legitimate reports come from doctors who have been treating the civilian victims. President Mahinda Rajapaksa says the army is expected to break through and eliminate the rebels in the next two days. The Red Cross has suspended relief efforts in the area because it is so dangerous. A Red Cross worker was killed two days ago, CNN.

The White House is expected to announce today that it will restart military tribunals for some of the detainees held captive in the Guantanamo Bay military prison. The administration says the detainees will have access to their lawyers in order to prepare a defense and that the trials will be more in keeping with U.S. due process laws than they were under the Bush administration but critics fear that secret evidence, which will not be available to either the detainees or their lawyers, will be used in the military tribunals, Christian Science Monitor.

Pakistan lifted a curfew in the Swat Valley to encourage civilians to flee the area. The Pakistani military, which is heavily engaged in conflict with Taliban rebels in the northwestern region of Pakistan, are hoping to minimize civilian casualties as fighting intensifies, Voice of America.

Europe’s recession may be reaching its low point. Growth dropped in many countries in Europe, Reuters.

Google issues apology for yesterday’s slow service, BBC News. Website to bookmark: Is it down for everyone or just me?


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Another Suicide Bombing Rocks Iraq: Over 130 Dead in Past 24 Hours

At least 60 killed in suicide bombing at a northern Baghdad Shi’ite shrine. Two Sunni suicide bombers struck outside of the Imam Moussa al-Kadhim shrine in the Shia neighborhood of Kadhimiya. With yesterday’s double suicide bombings, over 130 people have been killed in bombing in Iraq in the past 24 hours. It is not yet known if yesterday’s arrest of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, will increase or decrease the frequency of bombings, Telegraph.

Israeli bulldozers raze Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem. Israel says the home were built illegally, but Palestinians say it is almost impossible to get permits to build. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in March that the Israeli practice of bulldozing homes is “unhelpful,” AFP via Yahoo News.

Canadian soldier found dead in her quarters at the Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan. Enemy action has been ruled out, CBC News.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of several flu events in north America. Seven cases of swine flu have been found in Texas and California while over 800 cases of an unknown serious flu/respiratory illness have been found in Mexico. The WHO is considering issuing a travel warning for Mexico. Schools for millions of Mexico children have been closed.  Officials are particularly concerned because flu season in Mexico usually ends in late February, Reuters.

Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen accused of  taking part in an attack in Afghanistan that lead to the death of a U.S. soldier. Khadr has been held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002 when he was picked up at the age of 15. A Canadian federal court ruled that Khadr has been denied his due process rights and that he should be treated as a child soldier and that action by the federal government to get Khadr out of Guantanamo should be immediate because the government has known Khadr is being tortured since 2003. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Party, has said he intends to appeal the decision. U.S. President Barack Obama ordered the prison facility closed by January 2010 by which time all prisoners must be either tried or returned to their home countries or to a country that will accept them, The Star.

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