Donald Trump knows what caused the terrorist attack in New York Tuesday afternoon, and it is our sadweak, politically correct justice system!

That was a horrible event, and we have to stop it, and we have to stop it cold ...

We need quick justice and we need strong justice — much quicker and much stronger than we have right now. Because what we have right now is a joke and it’s a laughingstock. And no wonder so much of this stuff takes place.

No doubt the families of the victims were comforted by these wise words, Mr. President. Thank goodness we have someone in office who knows the ONE WEIRD TRICK to stop terrorism COLD.

Send him to Gitmo — I would certainly consider that, yes.

So we should transport a legal US resident, who committed crimes on American soil, 1,300 miles away from every victim, witness, and piece of evidence. Right. Anyone else want on board this crazy train?


Look, we all know that President Dump Tweet has no idea what's going on at Guantanamo. But Senator Graham is an active JAG lawyer who serves on the Armed Services Committee. There is no damn way he doesn't realize that all hell was breaking loose at Gitmo yesterday. FFS, AN AIR FORCE JUDGE FOUND A MARINE GENERAL IN CONTEMPT OF COURT AND LOCKED HIM IN HIS QUARTERS FOR THREE WEEKS! The prosecution of a suspect in the 2000 USS Cole bombing is in shambles. But Senator Graham insists we have to transport Sayfullo Saipov to Gitmo because War on Terror! We're fighting war, not crime! Some other slogans that fit on a bumper sticker!


The Shitshow at Gitmo

To understand what happened yesterday at Gitmo, we have to rewind the tape a bit. Stick with us Wonkers, YOU CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH! (You can also keep up with this story by following Miami Herald reporter Carol Rosenberg on Twitter.)

On January 28, a weird thing happened during the trial of accused 911 plotter Khalid Sheik Mohammed. Via Miami Herald,

Defense lawyers discovered the hidden microphones last week while preparing an emergency motion to halt pretrial hearings — after an undisclosed intelligence agent reached into the courtroom Jan. 28 and muted the audio of Mohammed’s lawyer during a discussion of the CIA’s secret prison network.

Someone had been recording Mohammed's meetings with his lawyers and accidentally played the tape in open court. OOOOPS!

Until 2008, Guantanamo's Echo II facility was controlled by the FBI, which installed monitoring systems in the interrogation rooms. Everyone pinky swore that the listening devices were disabled when the CIA took over, so defense counsel could use those rooms for confidential client meetings. Only someone had his fingers crossed, because a cursory examination revealed that those "smoke detectors" on the ceiling were actually listening devices.

Explanations from the supervising warden went from there are no devices, to we disconnected the devices, to we only monitor visually for safety reasons, to we only listen when it's not privileged, to I'm not authorized to discuss classified information. Which was oddly NOT reassuring to lawyers who spent their whole careers protecting the sanctity of attorney-client privilege. So then they had A PROBLEM.

In June, chief defense counsel Marine Brig. Gen. John Baker told the prosecutors that he had no confidence that attorney-client meetings were not being monitored. And last week the three civilian lawyers representing Omar al-Nashiri, the suspected USS Cole bomber, asked to be excused. Gen. Baker granted the request, because an attorney cannot ethically represent a client without confidentiality.

And then shit really hit the fan, because there must be a "learned counsel," aka death penalty expert, representing defendants in capital cases. Which stopped al-Nashiri's trial cold, as our president would say. On Tuesday, the presiding judge, Air Force Col. Vance Spath, insisted that only he could excuse the civilian attorneys.

Spath ruled that only a judge, not Baker, had the authority to excuse lawyers of record — and ordered the general to swear an oath and answer questions about the episode.

Baker stood three rows behind the defendant and refused, invoking a privilege.

The judge then ordered the general to rescind his decision to excuse the three lawyers. “I’m definitely not doing that,” the Marine general replied. Baker maintains that under the war court rule book he has the unchecked authority to release defense attorneys for “good cause.”

Spath then ordered the remaining attorney Navy Lt. Alaric Piette to represent al-Nashiri himself.

Piette, a former Navy SEAL and 2012 Georgetown Law graduate, declared himself willing to defend Nashiri but unable to do so without a death-penalty defender. “What I am not going to do is make any more pleadings,” the lieutenant said, “because I see the slippery slope.”

Yesterday, Judge Spath, a colonel, held Gen. Baker, a general, in contempt and confined him to his quarters for 21 days. Spath has ordered the three civilian lawyers to represent their client via video link tomorrow. The attorneys are unlikely to comply, and it's not clear whether a judge on Guantanamo can enlist the U.S. Marshals Service to go round the lawyers up and jail them for contempt. By tomorrow, there are likely to be half a dozen petitions filed in three different courts because there is no template for this situation.

Which was entirely predictable when we established a quasi-black site in 2002 to hold suspects indefinitely without trial. Lindsey Graham wants to ship Saipov down there so they can waterboard him, lock him in a coffin, subject him to mock executions, and sexually humiliate him where no one can see it happening. He'd like you to believe that it's necessary to use your tax dollars to fund this because it's the only way to get information from Saipov about ISIS.

IT'S NOT. Most of the evidence is likely to be gathered digitally anyway.

And if Republicans cared about actually stopping terrorism, rather than just scoring political points, they'd cut the shit and stop pretending that lax sentencing laws or PC liberals or civil rights lawyers are the problem. As Steve Vladeck put it in a WaPo editorial this morning,

While Trump may believe the U.S. criminal-justice system is “a joke” and “a laughingstock,” as he declared Wednesday in making his case, nothing could be further from the truth — especially in terrorism cases.

Since 2001, the government has secured more than 600 convictions in terrorism prosecutions in civilian federal courts, virtually none of which have been reversed.[...]

But above all, sending Saipov to Guantanamo would simply be unwise. For all of the successes of the civilian courts in post-Sept. 11 terrorism cases, the military commissions at Guantanamo have produced only eight convictions in 15 years, three of which were thrown out on appeal.

As usual, the grownups in the room ignored Trump entirely. Saipov was charged in a New York federal court with terrorist offenses. Lindsey Graham was sad about it on Twitter, because of course he was. To which we say GTFOH, Senator! We are a country of laws, and there's no patriotism in ducking the American legal system to ship suspects down to the dysfunctional shitshow we have parked on Cuba. It's been 15 years. ENOUGH.

[Chicago Sun Times / Miami Herald 2/13 / Miami Herald 3/12 Miami Herald 10/31 / Miami Herald 11/1 / WaPo]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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