Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Even I thought the Court of Military Commission Review couldn’t reach such an absurd conclusion. . . . The CMCR’s reasoning is, not surprisingly, a complete joke.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
As reported by the Atlantic, included at the end of the Senate's version of the National Defense Authorization Act is a measure that would require that all terrorist suspects be placed under immediate military custody rather than being placed with civilian law enforcement agencies.
As it stands, the President can decide whether to place a terror suspect with the military or with law enforcement agencies, and the latter is often preferred because of their expertise in interrogation and intelligence gathering.
This measure was inserted by Sen. John McCain, who has criticized the use of law enforcement agencies in these situations because they allow terrorist suspects to be “lawyered up” despite the pressing need for intelligence. This measure has been criticized because it would force agencies like the FBI to suspend productive interrogations in order to hand suspects over to the military, and it would “pave the way for the military to conduct law-enforcement activities on American soil,” which contravenes the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. Critics also say that the measure is broad enough to encompass American citizens who are suspected of terrorist offenses.
Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon's General Counsel, expressed concern about “overmilitarizing our approach to the current terrorist threat,” while Republican aids insist that the military is “better-suited” because it can “detain [terror suspects] indefinitely and interrogate them without advising [them] of the right to remain silent or giving them access to a lawyer.”
This measure will be debated late-September.
Ironically, a demonstration is reportedly planned for Friday to protest the use of military tribunals, even though the council justifies the use of military tribunals as the only way to handle repeated demonstrations in the country in the absence of an independent and impartial judiciary.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
As Australians prepare to mark the tenth anniversay or the 9/11 attacks, we should not have to be confronted with special pleading - publicly funded at that - by David Hicks.
Among almost 3000 casualties from Osama bin Laden's atrocity, there were 11 Australians. More than 100 have been killed in subsequent terrorist attacks in Bali, London, Saudi Arabia, India and elsewhere.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Friday, September 2, 2011
Sprenger has been temporarily relieved of his duties and reassigned while the investigation is pending.
Three Marines May Face Charges Related to “Hazing” in Connection With the Suicide of a Fellow Marine
These Marines allegedly forced Lew to perform “excuciating excersises in his full combat gear,” poured sand on his face, kicked him, and threatened to beat him up - all because he would fall asleep while manning a guard post. Lew's father believes that allegations of his son's poor performance on the job was just an “excuse to beat him up.”
At a hearing on Sept 8, a judge will decide whether to recommend charges.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Capt. James Young, an infantry instructor, partially blames the “incredibly busy, congested and complex environment” at KAF. Currently, 10,000 soldiers occupy the base which was built for only half that many people.
Details on the testimony of Master Cpl. Andrew Noseworthy can be found here.
Six other Marines charged in this matter had their charges dismissed, and one was found not guilty.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
More details can be found here.
Behenna's full letter can be read here on a website created by his parents and dedicated to his defense.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
A three-year inquiry into how a prisoner died in British custody in Iraq will clear the Army of operating a systematic regime of torture.
According to The National:
The report in The Sunday Telegraph - whose accuracy was later confirmed by government officials - said the inquiry will criticise the brutal conduct of individual soldiers and the "numerous failures" of officers to tackle the problem.
Publication of the report, scheduled for September 8, is expected to lead to calls for a full public inquiry by lawyers representing 40 Iraqis who claim to have been tortured by British forces.
Sir William Gage, a retired Appeal Court judge, chaired the three-year inquiry, which focused on the death of Baha Mousa, 26, a Basra hotel worker, and the abuse of nine other Iraqis arrested with him six months after the invasion.
Human rights lawyers, who represent up to 40 Iraqis who claim to have been tortured as well as the family of Baha Mousa, are expected to call for a full public inquiry and may bring legal action in an attempt to force one.It will be interesting to see if these litigants fare better than those who have attempted to sue in U. S. courts.
Here are some additional points from The Guardian.
Gage is expected to point to a catalogue of failings that led to the death of 26-year-old Mousa, who was arrested with nine other Iraqis at the Haitham hotel in Basra by soldiers of the 1st Battalion The Queen's Lancashire Regiment (QLR).
Mousa died after 36 hours in detention. A postmortem found he had suffered asphyxiation and at least 93 injuries to his body, including fractured ribs and a broken nose. Sir Michael Jackson, Britain's top general at the time, described the episode as "a stain on the character of the British army".
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Widespread human rights violations by the military have been reported, and many cases remain in the military justice system; but this case a positive step in a new direction.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Interestingly, soldiers directly in charge of overseeing the detention facility were not tried, supposedly because responsibility is being put on the superior officer whose duty it was to ensure that those below him did their jobs correctly.
In 1902, during the Boer War, the three men were court-martialed after twelve unarmed civilians were killed over a period of four days because the commanding officer was killed and his body was mutilated. The families of these men argue that they did not have the opportunity to consult with a lawyer until right before the court-martial, they were denied the right to appeal, and they were kept in solitary confinement for three months.
An Australian military lawyer, James Unkles, is leading the effort to post-humously pardon these men. He believes the soldiers were scapegoats used to cover up certain orders given by Lord Kitchener, the commander of the British forces in South Africa, not to take prisoners.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
FORMER Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks is going to the United Nations to clear his name and get compensation. [T]the submission calls for Australia to "request the US authorities to formally overturn Hicks' conviction under US law and to nullify the plea agreement". It also asks for the Federal Government to begin an independent investigation "into allegations that David Hicks was tortured or subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in US custody".
Today's New York Times Sunday Review leads off with "An Empty Regard," a thought-provoking essay by William Deresiewicz. See what you think. Oddly, the photograph of the faceless soldier that accompanies the article is different between the print (far left) and online (near left) versions. For Army readers: if you were conducting a personnel inspection, would either soldier pass? If not, why not?
Friday, August 19, 2011
After Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981, emergency rule in Egypt allowed police to hold people for months in prison without charge. Beating and torture of detainees was not uncommon. Now, Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Silimi announced that the government is trying to draft a document of constitutional principles, including commitment to a democratic and civilian state, to help guide Egypt during this transitional period.
There are concerns that such a ruling could lay the groundwork for a class action suit for all those discharged under the policy. As it stands, there is nothing in place to compensate officers discharged under these circumstances; and since the poor economy has made joining the military very competitive, it may be difficult for discharged soldiers to get back into the military otherwise.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear argument on this issue in September. For details, click here.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Details can be read here.
Behenna's supporters believed he was denied the right to a fair trial when a prosecution witness who could confirm Behenna's account of the events surrounding Mansur's death, was not permitted to testify. The witness was Dr. Herbert MacDonell, who says he told the prosecution that based on the evidence, Mansur must have been reaching for Behenna's gun when he was shot, making Behenna's actions in shooting Mansur justified. Defense attorneys were not informed about the possible exculpatory evidence until after Behenna was convicted when MacDonnell approached them.
Behenna is currently serving a 15 year prison term in Ft. Leavenworth. The details of this controversy can be accessed here.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Although the facility has long been criticized for detaining suspected insurgents without trial, and has been seen by Afghans “as a sign of imperial overreach,” the number of detainees has tripled over the last few years and U.S. officials are concerned that many Taliban insurgents will “slip through the cracks of an undeveloped legal system” if power is pre-maturely transfered to Afghan officials.
The transfer of authority over this prison was supposed to be part of a broad transition of power over to Afghan officials; but now the U.S. will retain authority over the prison until 2014, when all foreign troops are set to leave Afghanistan.
Recently, three soldiers were court-martialed after a Papuan priest was killed. Last week, they were sentenced to up to 15 months in jail after being convicted of various charges, including insubordination, disobeying orders, and abuse. Details about this story can be found here and here.
After an innocent woman was shot during the arrest of Boko Haram suspects in northern Nigeria, the government has ordered an investigation of wide-spread military misconduct against civilians. The Minister of Defence, Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammad, attributed such acts to “a few bad eggs” who “sometimes over-reacted to situations.”
Sentences have been handed down to seven men responsible for an attack on Pakistan's army headquarters in 2009, which killed eleven soldiers. A retired Army serviceman was sentenced to death, while another former serviceman received life in prison. Five civilians who assisted in the attack received prison sentences ranging from seven years to life imprisonment.
Amnesty International reports that four civilian men who were arrested during raids in a town in northern Tunisia in July will face a court-martial. They are being charged with creating or leading armed groups, inciting violence, and assault with the intention of changing the government. Eight other men will be tried in absentia.
Amnesty International criticized these courts-martial, stating that “civilians should never face trial before a military court.” They are facing courts-martial because three security officers were reportely injured during the events, and Tunisian law allows civilians to be tried by the military when a member of the military is involved, if an offence is committed in an military area, or if the offense is related to terrorism or national security.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Although this action will not be an examination of his case or his guilt, Hicks' family is pleased that he will have the chance to be heard in court. Some lawyers have said that the legitimacy of Hicks' conviction will be in the spotlight of this case because the military tribunal that convicted him may not fall within the Act as a court. In addition, he pled guilty to providing material support for terrorism, an offense that some in Australia have argued was "an offence invented by Congress after the fact; it did not exist at the time he allegedly committed it.”
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
The Turkish Court of Accounts began auditing military-run firms after a long-standing law that kept military expenditures outside of civilian oversight was amended last year. Not all military spending is affected by the amended law and many defense expenditures remain outside of its reach; but this move has been hailed as a step in the right direction by many observers.
On another note, a photograph taken of the new seating order at this year's Supreme Military Council that shows the prime minister alone at the head of the table (without the chief of the General Staff sitting next to him) is causing a stir. Government officials insist that this is symbolic of the democratic changes taking place in Turkey and that this seating arrangement will become a 'permanent scenario.'
In addition, the government may be planning to abolish Article 35 of the Turkish Armed Forces Internal Service Law that provides a legal basis for military takeovers in Turkey. A previous proposal to amend this law, submitted by the main opposition party, the Republican People's Party, was criticized as being undemocratic. The new proposal will be formulated after Parliament resumes on Oct. 1. The last time this law was used was in 1997 when the military staged an unarmed intervention which overthrew the Refah-Yol coalition government. Significantly, both the government and the military agree that this kind of a law needs to be amended.
Finally, last week, the Prime Minister announced the the Military Supreme Court of Appeals will be abolished and the General Staff will report directly to the Ministry of Defense. The Prime Minister argued that the dual system of justice was inappropriate and undemocratic, while a retired chief prosecutor added that officers, even those with legal educations, cannot be impartial in the face of command hierarchies, and the right to a fair trial is always at risk.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
He will be on probation until December 2014.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Social workers in Germany became concerned about the child after a base pediatrician made note of a suspicious burn on the child's shoulder. They were scheduled to visit Wickware's home a second time on the day that the child was brought to the German hospital with fatal brain injuries. He had been violently shaken and had fractures on his arms and legs.
Surprisingly, the mother, Jennifer Wickware, was charged by German authorities with failing to protect the child and sentenced to 5 years in prison. Usually women in her position are only charged if they are being uncooperative; and in the US, such charges rarely result in actual jail time.
Behenna's supporters believed he was denied the right to a fair trial when a prosecution witness who could confirm Behenna's account of the events surrounding Mansur's death was not permitted to testify. The witness was Dr. Herbert MacDonell, who says he told the prosecution that based on the evidence, Mansur must have been reaching for Behenna's gun when he was shot, making Behenna's actions in shooting Mansur justified. The defense attorneys were not informed about the possible exculpatory evidence until after Behenna was convicted when MacDonnell approached them.
Behenna is currently serving a 15 year prison term in Ft. Leavenworth. The details of this controvery can be accessed here.
Friday, August 5, 2011
This statements comes after Washington approved a deal to allow 10,000 US troops stay in Iraq to continue to train Iraqi forces on various military equipment.
Winfield will testify along with Pvt. Jeremy Morlock, who pled guilty to three murders and was sentenced to 24 years in prison last March. He has been cooperating with prosecutors since then. The credibility of Morlock's testimony has recently been called into question by investigators and defense attorneys, in light of 'inconsistent testimony' and the fact that Morlock recently requested court transcripts and investigative documents, saying they help him remember the relevant events. Since last year, Morlock said that it was Gibbs who would randomly choose civilians to kill and plan scenarios to make it look like they were killed in action.
More information about Winfield's plea deal and his role in the crimes can be accessed here.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
While posts may be a little less frequent in the next week (or two), keep checking back for new content and announcements.
And thanks to all of the great contributions from Jon Tracy, Michelle Lindo McLuer, Freda Carmack, and all the others that have been contributing to NIMJBlog.
Surprisingly, the financial markets and the government were 'unfazed' by this move. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan named General Necdet Ozel as the new head of land forces and acting deputy chief of the general staff, but otherwise gave no response to the military's action.
The resignations have been described by some as the 'moment the Turkish military was finally civilianized.' In previous months, Erdogan refused to endorse many of Kosaner's suggestions on military appointments and promotions, perhaps in an effort to show the military no longer has the same political influence that it once did. Still, some military analysts are concerned that military morale and military capability will suffer greatly as a result of the resignations.
The commanding officer of PNS Mehran, the security officer of the airbase, and the naval aviation commander are those currently facing a court martial.
Mubarak appeared in court lying on a hospital bed and placed behind the bars of an iron mesh cage. Though he looked better than expected, he was pale and exhausted, showing Egyptians a much different side of himself than they are used to seeing.
This is the first time that the people of an Arab country put their own leader on trial, leading many to call this the 'trial of the century.'
The trial is adjourned until August 15.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
During the discussion, Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, reviewed instances of what he viewed as the Bush Administration's “utter lawlessness” and he criticized the Obama Administration for not adequately dealing with these issues. John Yoo took issue with Romero's contention that “lawlessness or broad unconstitutionality” is the biggest threat to American national security, blaming this view on a lack of understanding in the US of the rules of war. He said that the real threat to civil liberties is not the system of enhanced interrogation under the Bush Administration, but rather the targeted drone killings taking place under Obama's Administration. He credited the use of what he called “coercive interrogation” for acquiring the intelligence that led to the death of Osama Bin Laden, adding that he still does not believe that enhanced interrogation methods are torture.
With regard to the continuing use of military commissions, Alberto Gonzales explained that despite Congressional efforts to the contrary, he does not believe criminal trials for all suspected terrorists are necessarily “off the table.” He noted that he prefers this to military commissions, since it is “available and appropriate.”
Other speakers included David Cole from Georgetown University Law Center and Bill Bratton, former chief the LAPD and former commissioner of the NYPD. The panel discussion can be viewed in full on the Aspen Institute's Website.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
As of tomorrow, our mailing address, e-mail, and phone will all change. Our WCL website will also go away.
For general inquiries, please use our new e-mail address:
Or leave a message:
For media inquiries, please start here:
Victor M. Hansen
Professor of Law
New England Law Boston
NIMJ's new mailing address for hard-copy queries will be as follows:
National Institute of Military Justice
c/o Prof. Elizabeth L. Hillman
UC Hastings College of the Law
200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Thank you for your support of NIMJ.
Apparently, this is not the end of the situation, as there is still a pending investigation into whether leadership took reprisal actions against 2 officers who questioned information-gathering tactics used by the unit. The IG claims Caldwell is not the focus of the reprisal investigation.
NIMJ's previous coverage of the allegations is here, here, and here.
Premeditated murder is one of the few crimes under the Uniform Code of Military Justice that carries a mandatory minimum. Most UCMJ crimes have "no punishment" as an option.
NIMJ's previous coverage of the debate about the number of USAF generals, particularly as it relates to the JAG Corps is here and here.