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bu$h junta about-face: tribunals

The bush regime has done a 180 on military tribunals, just like changing their minds about independent 9/11 inquiries!

Administration's Position Shifts on Plans for Tribunals

ASHINGTON, Nov. 1 — Despite saying last year that it wanted to move quickly to establish military tribunals for terrorism defendants, the Bush administration is now in no hurry to conduct such proceedings, officials and others say.

A principal reason, the officials and analysts say, is that the pressure to bring some prisoners before a tribunal quickly to demonstrate swift retribution for the Sept. 11 attacks has faded.

At the same time, government officials are now confident that they may detain the Taliban and Qaeda prisoners indefinitely at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba and elsewhere as enemy combatants and continue to gain valuable information from them through interrogations.

"The priority now is to continue to gather intelligence from these people, not to put them before any kind of court," an administration official said.

The official said that there would certainly be no tribunals this year and perhaps not any until late next year at the earliest.

This represents a reversal from the administration's approach last year. A month after the attacks, President Bush surprised Congress with an order providing for tribunals to deal with many prisoners taken in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

In March, William J. Haynes II, the Defense Department's general counsel, rebuffed an effort by the American Bar Association to help shape the regulations that would govern the tribunals, saying there was not enough time.

Mr. Haynes said that utilizing the help of the lawyers' group would be impractical because of "the need to move decisively and expeditiously on the war against terrorism."

But the senior government official who discussed the new approach said that the emphasis was now heavily weighted to preventing terrorit acts. That, the official said, means intensive and lengthy interrogation of the detainees.

Victoria Clarke, a spokeswoman for the Defense Department, said that "there was never a sense to do this as quickly as possible but there was direction to do this as appropriately as possible."

Ms. Clarke said that Donald H. Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, made it clear he wanted subordinates to develop a tribunal system "in as thoughtful and deliberate fashion as possible to make sure we would be prepared if and when the president decides to bring someone before a military commission."

Those in custody considered the most likely candidates for a military tribunal are two senior officials of Al Qaeda: Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a Yemeni who has been described as a ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks, and Abu Zubaydah, believed to be the Qaeda director of operations.

Mr. bin al-Shibh was arrested in Pakistan in September; Mr. Zubaydah was picked up there in March.

Officials said, however, that those two were also the most important subjects for continued interrogation. Once put before a tribunal, analysts said, they would no longer be available for questioning by authorities.

Despite the more deliberate pace of creating military tribunals, the Defense Department is starting to find people to staff the system, officials said. Candidates are being considered for the posts of prosecutor general and chief defense counsel, as well as for slots on the appeals panel. Lt. Col. William K. Lietzau, an experienced Marine Corps lawyer and judge, is overseeing recruitment.

Colonel Lietzau, a former legal adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been mentioned as a possible candidate for chief prosecutor. He is now a staff member of the general counsel's office at the Pentagon.

In addition, some legal scholars are on a list of possible appointees to the appeals panel that would be established under the regulations, officials said. Any civilian named to the three-member panel would be temporarily appointed a military officer.

The procedures the Pentagon released in March require a unanimous verdict for the death penalty; allow most proceedings to be open to the public; and provide military lawyers at government expense to the defendants, as well as let them pay for civilian lawyers if they choose.

The rules also say that defendants would be presumed innocent and entitled to see the evidence against them. Thus, officials said, tribunals might not provide a cure for a problem that has arisen in the civilian trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in an American court in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks. Defense lawyers say Mr. Moussaoui cannot get a fair trial without testimony from imprisoned Qaeda figures like Mr. bin al-Shibh.

Some officials have suggested that if Mr. Moussaoui's civilian trial falls apart, he could face a military panel.

Eugene R. Fidell, a Washington lawyer and authority on military law, said that the process of establishing military tribunals gives the government great flexibility in deciding whom to prosecute, and when.

"There is a growing conviction that there will be one or more prosecutions" by tribunals, he said. "So the machinery will eventually be used. The questions that remain are when will they be used, who will be charged and with what offenses."

The administration's confidence that it does not have to rush to bring detainees before a tribunal was enhanced this summer when a federal judge in Washington ruled that federal courts had no jurisdiction over the prisoners held in Guantánamo.

homepage: homepage: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/02/politics/02TRIB.html?ex=1036904400&en=0351ee5f57119ea8&ei=5062&partner=GOOGLE ei=5062&partner=GOOGLE

Bush only changes timing/ 9/11 inquiry?? 04.Nov.2002 10:23


Bush still appears to be intent on the tribunal, only changed his mind on the timing, according to this article.
What are the changes regarding the 9/11 independent inquiry? You provide no insights.

here's my insight 04.Nov.2002 11:21

nw winlundn@efn.org

used to be at:  http://www.ptd.net/webnews/wed/az/Attacks-intelligence.RFXi_CSK.html (Friday, 20-Sep-2002 5:31PM)

Bush (now) Supports Independent 9/11 Probe

(AP) -- Reversing course, President Bush said Friday he now supports establishing an independent commission to investigate the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Momentum for such a commission has grown in recent months. The House has already voted to approve a commission as part of its intelligence authorization bill.

But the White House had opposed an independent commission, citing concerns about possible leaks and tying up officials involved in the fight against terrorism.

In a letter to Capitol Hill, the president's congressional liaison said Bush wanted to focus immediately after Sept. 11 on preventing future attacks and restructuring government agencies to meet the new threats. With that effort now underway, and congressional hearings into the attacks well along, the administration thought it was time to get behind the creation of a commission,

"Now that the work of the intelligence committees is nearing its end, we must take the appropriate next steps," the letter said.

The White House said that before now it had been concerned that an additional inquiry or commission into the attacks would be duplicative and "divert the attention and resources of both the Congress and relevant executive agencies away from their important work of combating terrorism."

Asked to explain his opposition to a commission in May, Bush said that an inquiry into what took place before the attacks should be handled by Congress. "Since it deals with such sensitive information, in my judgment, It's best for the ongoing war against terror that the investigation be done in the intelligence committee," he said during a trip to Germany.

White House officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Bush decided to back the commission now in response to pressure from victims' family members who had lobbied for a review that went beyond potential intelligence lapses and also examined aviation and other issues.

The White House letter only explicitly sanctions an inquiry into such issues as "coordination between the intelligence community and non-national security agencies, border security and visa issues, commercial aviation and the role of state and local governments."

Stephen Push, a leader of a group of Sept. 11 relatives, said the apparent exclusion of intelligence agencies is disappointing. Additional focus on intelligence lapses has been made more urgent by this week's congressional hearings on the attacks, with their disclosures about multiple warnings of attacks before Sept. 11.

"This is disgraceful what we're learning about intelligence failures and the White House is trying to cover it up," Push said.

Rep. Tim Roemer, D-Ind., who led House efforts to form a commission, said he welcomes the proposal -- but also wants the commission to look into intelligence.

"Everything should be on the table," he said.

The change of heart comes as hearings continue on Capitol Hill.

On Friday, a congressional investigator said in a report that FBI headquarters blocked an agent's request to aggressively pursue one of the future hijackers less than two weeks before Sept. 11. The agent warned "someday, someone will die."

The unidentified New York-based FBI agent had asked headquarters Aug. 29, 2001, to allow his office to use its "full criminal investigative resources" to find Khalid al-Mihdhar, one of two hijackers who intelligence agents had identified as attending an al-Qaida meeting in Malaysia in January 2000.

In an e-mail, headquarters denied the request because al-Mihdhar was not under criminal investigation. It cited the "wall" between intelligence and law enforcement.

The agent replied: "Someday someone will die -- and wall or not -- the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain `problems'."

The exchange was included in a report prepared by Eleanor Hill, staff director for the House and Senate intelligence committees' inquiry into intelligence failures leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks.

Hill told lawmakers that the United States failed to pursue al-Mihdhar and another hijacker, Nawaf al-Hazmi, who also attended the Malaysia meeting. Intelligence agencies "had, but missed, opportunities both to deny them entry into the United States and subsequently to generate investigative and surveillance action regarding their activities within the United States," she said.

CIA interest in the Malaysia meeting faded after January 2000, gradually resurfacing after a participant was identified as being a principal planner in the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen.

CIA employees told congressional staff that the Malaysia meeting was seen "as just one of many counterterrorist efforts" at the time. But intelligence documents show it was considered important enough to be discussed in briefings with the CIA director in January 2000.

In March 2000, a cable from an overseas CIA station noted that al-Hazmi had flown into Los Angeles on Jan. 15, 2000. The cable was marked "Action required: None, FYI."

Al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi lived openly in the United States. While residing in San Diego in 2000, they used their true names on an apartment lease and al-Mihdhar obtained a driver's license. They also took flight lessons in San Diego in May 2000.

Not until Aug. 23, 2001, were the two men put on the State Department's watch list for denying visas. By then, both were in the United States. Both al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi were aboard American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon.

Hill said CIA officials told her there were no procedures at the CIA Counterterrorism Center for putting suspects on watch lists and they had received no training on watch lists.

insight v. oversight 05.Nov.2002 12:42

Lonesome, On'ry and Mean

so bush says "yeah, investigate *giggle*--go for it."

how do other independent congressional committee investigations tend to go with regards to such "high profile" incidents, i'm curious?

at any rate, i'm sure that such an investigation would net the some of the (1/2)truth, if not 1 million years after the fact, at least before Jesus comes back.