By Benjamin G. Davis, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toledo College of Law
Last summer I was designated an observer by the Office of Military Commission of the Department of Defense so that I can observe the Military Commissions at Gitmo. If the hearings are not rescheduled, I am planning to go down there for the 9/11 Military Commission from December 3-7, 2012.
When I made the application I wrote the following to the Office of Military Commissions before acceptance of my application, to wit:
“I met General Martins (Chief Prosecutor) and others at the ABA on August 4. 2012 at a session at which I expressed my opinion that these commissions are third class process that do not respect judicial norms and forms,they are not public, and they are a disgrace to all Americans. General Martins encouraged me to visit the hearings. Notwithstanding my qualms about being in an illegal tribunal and without prejudice to my continued objections to these tribunals expressed in my writing and public appearances, I am willing to take up General Martins on his proposal and would like to go to a hearing in Gitmo. Please contact me at ben.davis @utoledo.edu where I am an Associate Professor of Law at the College of Law. Please note my abiding respect for the soldiers of our military and their sacrifice and the sacrifice of their families. I also consider the lawyers and judges in these tribunals from the JAG and civilian heroes and heroines, but still good people put in a bad spot by the machinations of both the Bush and Obama Administrations and Congress in their attempts to hide US torture, the black sites, and the rest of the betrayals of American values in these conviction machines. If these were truly public proceedings, I would not have to ask you to walk in and watch and I object to this process. I lost a high school friend in the Towers on 9/11 but do not think these processes honor his loss, the loss of other victims of that tragedy, and America. Thank you for your attention to my request to go to a hearing at Gitmo. Best, Benjamin G. Davis”
I have also met Major Poteet, Marine Defense Counsel for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed last summer.
I watched the 10/18 and 10/19 9/11 hearings as an ordinary citizen at Fort Meade, Maryland. I encourage people who can get there to watch them particularly these motion hearings. The process is very straightforward to get to the site, one does not need any special authorization, and the 250 person theater has plenty of room. Dates of hearings are available on the Office of Military Commissions website.
I write this to ask Saltlaw blog readers, if you wish, to send me any questions that you would wish to be asked about the Military Commissions or Gitmo for my trip down there so that I can compile them. Please let me know if you want attribution or not for the questions. I would be grateful if any questions would be sent to me on or before November 21, 2012 at firstname.lastname@example.org. If there are items on criminal law and procedure in federal courts or military law such as court-martials that you think might be of use for me in helping me compare this process, I would be grateful if you would also send that to me. This is of course for domestic US state or federal criminal prosecutions and courtmartials but also, as I am a comparativist, anything from around the world that you would think is relevant in other countries or international law.
Thank you for your consideration of this.