The issue of how to obtain some measure of justice in court for the attacks of Sept.11, 2001, has perplexed American officials across all four presidencies. Five Guantánamo Bay inmates accused of conspiring with the hijackers have been in a military tribunal case for more than a decade without a trial.
The Biden administration is now in charge. However, the case’s prospects for resolution remain hazy, highlighting the political and legal obstacles that have intensified since the attacks.
The Pentagon is deciding how best to proceed while the White House distances itself from the negotiations by declining to participate.
The case has languished for more than a decade due to seemingly interminable disagreements
In his memoir, Attorney General William P. Barr concluded that the Guantánamo military commissions system “had become a hopeless mess” and should be abandoned a decade later under President Donald J. Trump. The fact that he had suggested the use of tribunals to the White House of President George W. Bush in Sept.11 2001 as a private citizen made the observation stand out even more.
Under Mr. Barr, the Justice Department had begun a new investigation into the evidence and determined that it could prevail in federal court in obtaining a conviction. (Sept.11)
According to a person familiar with those discussions, officials intended to continue the case as a capital case, but they did not consider the likelihood of sustaining any death sentences upon appeal in light of the torture.
Mr. Barr argued that the transfer ban should be separate from the idea of closing the Guantánamo prison and asked senior Republican lawmakers to drop it so that a trial could still take place in federal court. Trump had lifted Obama’s closure order and promised to keep the prison open.) But Republicans in Congress, who had invested a lot of money a decade earlier to undermine Mr. Holder’s plan, did not want to change course. Nothing came of the concept.
Senior national security lawyers are currently debating whether to support a plea deal under President Biden. According to people who are familiar with internal deliberations, prosecutors presented the question to the administration nearly a year ago, but the White House has so far steadfastly refused to weigh in.
Caroline D. Krass, the general counsel at the Pentagon, is currently handling the matter instead.
She had served as the C.I.A.’s general counsel during the Obama administration. Late last year, Ms. Krass set up a secure videoconference meeting with senior lawyers from several other agencies.
The task force had been set up by Mr. Obama as a first step toward closing the prison. (Sept.11)
Some also want a civilian mental health program to treat what they say are the ongoing effects of torture from their C.I.A. interrogations during the Bush administration: disorders including insomnia, traumatic brain injuries, and others.
A spokesperson for the National Security Council, as well as Ms. Krass, Mr. Olsen, and Ms. Ingber, declined to comment. “U.S. government officials are continuing to discuss the proposed policy principles in connection with extremely complex cases involving numerous interagency equities,” an email from Chris Meagher, a senior Pentagon spokesman, read Sept.11.
According to The New York Times, a National Security Council lawyer wrote a letter to military commissions officials in March stating that the Biden administration would not take a position on any case. The letter gave Ms. Krass a copy.
The C.I.A. tortured Mr. Mohammed and the other four prisoners after they were captured in Pakistan in 2002 and 2003.
The C.I.A. put intelligence gathering on Al Qaeda and upcoming attacks ahead of obtaining legal evidence. In 2006, they were moved to the Guantánamo Bay military prison.
Col., the presently serving military judge in the case, Since March, when prosecutors who had been on the case for more than a decade proposed the plea negotiations, Matthew N. McCall has canceled all public hearings.
However, while they wait for the Biden administration to make a decision, none of the parties appear to want to return to court for yet more pretrial hearings.(Sept.11)
This month, Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, stated that he had supported Mr. Barr’s idea of bringing the case to federal court while Mr. Trump was in office. But right now, he said, he didn’t support the idea because he didn’t trust Vice President Biden to keep Guantánamo open once the most notorious prisoners were out.
According to him, “I told Barr that I get the desire to accelerate this trial and bring about justice for the families of Sept.11.” That’s a worthy objective. However, I don’t want to do anything that makes it harder for us to hold someone if we find someone with valuable intelligence.
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