Saturday, May 31, 2008

This Weeks Hero's

And another heartless judge...
I personally would like to thank each of these men and women for refusing to just sit back and watch....
I hope our next president will pardon each of them and give them medals for their courageous and important actions in trying to bring the plight of the Guantanamo detainees to the attention of the sleeping masses here in the United States... Click on the title for the video (sorry that wapo makes you watch a commercial first).
And when you are finished watching that inspiring video go to their website and thank them for standing up while so many are sitting through the collapse of our government ....

Anti-Guantanamo protesters convicted for illegal Supreme Court demonstration
Deirdre Jurand at 12:27 PM ET

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[JURIST] A Washington DC Superior Court found 34 members of anti-war activism group Witness Against Torture [advocacy website] guilty Thursday on misdemeanor charges of illegal protesting. Police arrested 71 group members at a protest [JURIST report] in front of the US Supreme Court in January, where they were demonstrating for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison [JURIST news archive]. They were indicted on charges of violating an ordinance barring demonstrations on court grounds. Officials charged 35 protesters, and the Superior Court judge dismissed charges against one for lack of evidence. The defendants, who represented themselves, argued that they were exercising their right to free speech [advocacy press release], but the judge found that they had continued to violate the ordinance despite police warnings. They were scheduled to be sentenced Friday. The Washington Post has more.

At their court appearance [JURIST report], protesters wore orange jumpsuits similar to the ones worn by Guantanamo detainees and some identified themselves using the names of detainees as a way to "symbolically grant the Guantanamo prisoners their day in court" [advocacy press release]. During the trial, one defendant turned his back to the judge and, when arrested for contempt of court, yelled that the judge had committed a crime against justice. The January 11 protest took place on the sixth anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo Bay teror detention facility in Cuba.

More on the sacked judge at Guatanamo Military Commission (UPDATED)

Click on the title for the update.... seems the military is desperately looking for judges, this particular judge offered to stay on after his term ends at the end of June but the military said "no thanks" and pulled him out early...

Pentagon dismisses judge in Khadr military commission trial

Andrew Gilmore at 10:11 AM ET

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[JURIST] The US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] on Thursday dismissed the military judge presiding over the military commission trial of Canadian Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr [DOD materials; JURIST news archive]. No explanation was given for the dismissal of Col. Peter Brownback [JURIST news archive], but Khadr's defense lawyers speculated that it was was related to Brownback's threat earlier this month to suspend the military commission proceedings [JURIST report] against Khadr until the US government submits daily records of Khadr's detention. Khadr's military lawyers had requested the records to corroborate allegations of abusive treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. In November 2007, Reuters reported that at a pre-trial hearing in the Khadr case, Brownback said that the Pentagon was unhappy with his decisions in the case, and that he had "taken a lot of heat" [Reuters report] for dismissing charges against Khadr [JURIST report] in June 2007. Those charges were later reinstated [JURIST report]. AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

Khadr, 21, faces life imprisonment for crimes allegedly committed at the age of 15 while fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan. He was charged [charge sheet, PDF; JURIST report] in April 2007 with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism, as well as spying. In April, Brownback ruled [PDF text] that Khadr was not a child soldier when he was captured in Afghanistan. Khadr's lawyers had asked for the case to be dismissed [JURIST report] saying that it violated the Optional Protocol of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child [text], which gives special protection to children under 18 involved in armed conflicts.

Now here is a surprise!

Former Guantanamo prosecutor says DOD punished him for Hamdan testimony
Deirdre Jurand at 10:19 AM ET

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[JURIST] The former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay alleges that the US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] retaliated against him for giving testimony [JURIST report] at the pre-trial hearing of detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan [DOD materials; JURIST news archive] which reflected poorly on the DOD. In an email released Wednesday, Air Force Col. Morris Davis [official profile, PDF] wrote that Pentagon officials denied him a medal for his two years of work on Guantanamo cases for failure to "serve honorably", a justification he says is politically motivated. He also said that he will not cooperate in any future cases and that he fears further punishment by the DOD before his official retirement later this year. The Washington Post has more.

Davis resigned [JURIST report; JURIST op-ed] from his position at Guantanamo Bay in October 2007, saying that politics were interfering with the prosecutions. He testified at Hamdan's pre-trial hearing that DOD officials had pressured him to bring charges against detainees and had told him that there could be no acquittals. Davis also stated that the legal adviser to the Convening Authority [official backgrounder] for Military Commissions at Guantanamo Bay, US Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann [official profile], questioned the need for open trials [JURIST report] and pressured him to move forward with military commissions quickly "before the election." A judge disqualified Hartmann from a Guantanamo trial earlier this month, and Hartmann's objectivity has since been questioned [JURIST reports].