9/11 Defendant accuses Navy of torture for lack of olives and honey with meal.
Yesterday’s proceedings clearly illustrated the problems with this commission. Both legal teams are outstanding; let’s start there. I get that people hate the defense attorneys, and I might normally even agree in part. But the reality is that they are doing their job. Some might argue it’s a job not worth doing, but clearly the Constitution says otherwise. As one example that has some historical interest shows: how many of you know who the defense attorney was for the British soldiers after the Boston Massacre? It was a well-known Boston attorney named John Adams, who would less than 25 years later become President of the United States.
So, let’s just agree for purposes here that the Al Qaeda guys (if there are going to be trials, which Congress, the Supreme Court and the President says there will be) need representation. Now, the Government lawyers are excellent as well. The General is am amazing guy, who is no less impressive for his ability to not talk like a lawyer. There’s a female attorney here that has impressed me beyond belief as well, mostly because she talked for about 40 minutes the other day without so much as a pause to say “um.”
So yesterday’s LEGAL argument dealt with how classification of documents is done. Let me say that this isn’t just a question of law, but apparently the facts are in dispute to. So no matter how I lay out the argument, one side would take issue. But essentially the defense is arguing that if they read an article in the New York Times that deals with detainee stuff, they can read it with no problems, but the minute they try to save it to their computer, put it into a legal document, discuss it with their client, or even muse vocally about it, the document or story then becomes classified.
One example that was used to attorney James Connell (lawyer for al Baluchi) was that investigators talking to a witness to something could listen with no problems, but follow up questions on a matter that is needed for further discussion might actually violate the classifications. So, the legal argument was somewhat obscure and arcane, and not just a little boring at times, but it was vitally important. And the lawyers treated it with the serious interest the mater deserved.
At lunch we broke for a while, and I was pondering how to write the whole thing up. Again, not the most exciting topic, and it doesn’t really matter as much in the long run to people who just want to know when these guys will be going to meet their maker through government help. But then I came back from lunch, they reconvened the hearing and….
Jihadist Ramzi Binalshibh, who has been charged in the deaths of 2,976 innocents on 9/11, had a meltdown in court over his belief that the U.S. military withheld olives and honey from his meals as 'a form of psychological torture.'
“There are big problems with the food that was provided,” Binalshibh angrily told the judge, Army Col. James Pohl, through a translator.
“It is a form of psychological torture,” he growled.
Binalshibh also has alleged mistreatment by prison guards, yelling at one point, that “Maybe they are going to kill us and say that we are committing suicide.”
Torture is a subjective thing I suppose, but lack of olives and honey doesn’t match anyone’s definition. Except of course this guy. There is some evidence that bin al Shibh is just plain crazy. Obviously he’s a evil guy, and not all there, but some say he has schizophrenia and other mental disorders.
I was talking about it with Ben Fox, my neighbor here in the Media pit. He works for AP and is being fairly patient with my idiotic questions, and he had a fairly interesting anecdote. Apparently in the past bin al Shibh was complaining about how the US Government was shaking his room while he was trying to sleep. He was complaining basically about tremors and stuff, which he said they were doing to drive him crazy. The court even took evidence, with the government predictably coming in and saying that not only did they not have any idea what he was talking about, but that no one else had ever brought it up or felt any such tremors. The court eventually just tossed it and moved on.
Turns out though that they discovered later that there was problems with the foundation for the building, and there might actually have been some minor trembling, that literally no one else ever felt. Now, the Government clearly wasn’t doing it, and didn’t know anything about it, but bin al Shibh somehow picked up on something no one else did.
In November, a judge granted Binalshibh's lawyers access for the first time to "Camp 7" and "Camp Platinum," the secret section of Guantanamo where he is held, to evaluate his conditions. The lawyers said in court documents that he was so unstable that he believes his bed shakes and noxious odors are pumped into his cell.
"Mental status does not arise from a vacuum: present and past experiences affect one's perceptions, understandings and general mental competency," his lawyers wrote in seeking access to the overseas prisons.
So anyway, we had really serious discussions about important legal issues….and then we had a guy complaining that lack of olives is torture. It’s like holding a wake with a circus going on around you. No matter how serious the attorneys, both defense and prosecution take this, no matter how genius the legal arguments are, no matter how valid a specific interpretation of some legal document is….in the end all we are doing is trying to figure out how soon these clowns will go to their everlasting reward or punishment.
If the court is going to take time to address whether lack of olives is torture, or whether missing court because of explosive diarrhea is “voluntary absence” (like we had yesterday) this will take a lot of time, and cost the government a LOT of money. The Congress set up the mechanism for holding these trials, but it could just as easily have been Ringling Brothers.
VIDEO: Here is an interview by our videographer with Capt Hahn, who is every bit as nice as she seems in this video.