Looking back at Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s pretrial address to the Gitmo tribunal

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba, Oct 17, 2012—Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks told the Guantanamo courtroom on Wednesday that the U.S. government had killed many more people in the name of national security than he is accused of killing on 9/11.

Yes, and that was before an investigation to make a case that Afghanistan was responsible for the attack, though we attacked them preemptively and illegally. I would add to that list of possible attackers should include both Israel and NORAD, both of whom profited most from the attack. And I would delete Iraq, which was set-up for its oil and real estate resources.

Khalid Sheik Mohammed was allowed to address the court at a pretrial hearing held at Guantanamo Bay, which was to have been closed by the beginning of Obama’s administration but regrettably is still there. The hearing focused on security classification rules for evidence that will be used in his trial on charges of orchestrating the hijacked plane attacks that killed 2,976 people.

Concerning Mohammed’s “confessions,” we forget that in the days of George Bush, waterboarding was still in practice at Guantanamo on Enemy Combatants and not considered being torture, though in Obama’s days it is. What’s more, The New York Times Reported that Waterboarding was used 266 Times on 2 Suspects. More importantly, the memo also says that “the CIA waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times in March 2003, as the self-described planner of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.”

Given that much torture, which waterboarding is now considered to be, Khalid Sheihk Mohammed would probably have confessed to bombing Pearl Harbor and the Sinking of the Maine as well. Waterboarding derives its name from having a prisoner lay face down on a body-length board with his whole head wrapped in toweling. Then water is poured profusely over the head, soaking the toweling and the victim is told he’s going to be drowned as he struggles to take air into his lungs. Most intelligence experts do not value confessions taken in torture for the obvious reasons: the testimony is taken under fear of death. These confessions should not stand, even if the plaintiff is foolish or lucky enough to resist the torture.

Thus, when KSM says with seeming bravado, which is not a punishable offense but only telling the truth on his part. “When the government feels sad for the death or the killing of 3,000 people who were killed on September 11, we also should feel sorry that the American government that was represented by (the chief prosecutor) and others have killed thousands of people, millions,” said Mohammed, wearing a military-style camouflage vest to the courtroom.

He accused the United States of using an elastic definition of national security, comparable to the way dictators bend the law to justify their acts. A case could be made for that statement by any conscionable person following U.S. foreign policy. President Obama uses drone-bombings that seem to come from out of nowhere on mostly innocent populations. These drones have killed thousands of innocent people in Pakistan especially, mostly women and children and few terrorists.

Also, relentless Shock and Awe bombings were heaped upon Saddam Hussein by Bush and Cheney & Company, based on the false statements that he was prepared to drop weapons of mass destruction on the U.S. at any moment. That statement was made close to 1,000 times in the run-up and voting to start a preemptive, illegal war on Iraq. Hans Blix, who was the head of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, could not find WMD after weeks and weeks of searching. Yet, we had Colin Powell appearing on worldwide television pointing to reconnaissance photographs of weapons storage facilities which were in fact empty or scrapped building, and mobile weapons laboratories that turned out to be used to manufacture hydrogen for weather balloons.

Returning to Mohammed he added, “Many can kill people under the name of national security, and to torture people under the name of national security, and to detain children under the name of national security, underage children,” he said in Arabic through an English interpreter.

“The president can take someone and throw him into the sea under the name of national security and so he can also legislate the assassinations under the name of national security for the American citizens,” he said in an apparent reference to the U.S. killing and burial at sea of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The president, as of the NDAA passage, also gives himself and the military the right to indefinite detention of anyone suspected of terror, including Americans, and to hold them without charge, a lawyer, or trial. This is totally unconstitutional.

Additionally, the president has an official kill-list, which includes heads of sovereign states. In Libya, it was used to kill Muammar Gaddafi, and to establish a “no-fly zone” that was used to kill some 65,000 Libyans, also totally illegal.

Perhaps this is why KSM advised the court against “getting affected by the crocodile tears” and said, “Your blood is not made out of gold and ours is made out of water. We are all human beings.” Again, this is a logic no conscionable person can deny. Perhaps he was referring to the 9/11 family members who have been brought to Guantanamo to supply, in their minds, genuine tears. One family member questioned why KSM was allowed to say such things? And another told her, “This is our way,” the American way I guess, our sense of exceptionalism overriding horrendous war crimes.

Our way should have questioned more deeply the sole Muslim blame for the crime of 9/11, and sought the more likely participation both of Israel and our own NORAD, who stood most to gain, the latter via the expansions of the military industrial complex. Israel, because they have had an intense hatred of the Palestinians for more than 65 years, and committed an Ethnic cleansing in 1948, even before the two-state solution went into effect. This is documented by Orthodox Jewish Historian Elan Peppe in his landmark book, “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.” More than 800,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homeland, hundreds of villages were destroyed, and thousands were injured, killed or raped.

What’s more, Israel has received billions of dollars every year since its inception from the U.S. for military arms, including fighter planes, bombs, missiles, and so on. Israel has been relied on as our police force in the Middle East to keep the Arabs in line. Israel has profited greatly from this, and only fueled more fears of danger, this time against Iran for developing nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, ever since 1956, Israel has developed nuclear weapons at its reactors in its plant in Dimona in the Negev desert. It has an arsenal of 300 to 400 warheads and growing. As of last Wednesday, Israel did us the dubious favor of bombing Syria, just in case it might be winning its war against foreign or U.S. interference. This continues as an unholy alliance.

Returning to Guantanamo’s partitioned courtroom, which facilitates silence to the jury on their side of the glass-paneled wall when the information is deemed “classified.” The judge on the other side of the glass, Army Colonel James Pohl, gave Mohammed permission to speak and did not interrupt him, but said he would not hear any further personal comments from the defendants.

Mohammed’s lecture to the court came during a week of pretrial hearings at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba for him and four other captives accused of recruiting, funding and training the hijackers.

Mohammed did not indicate why he wore a camouflage vest, but his wardrobe choice suggested he might be trying to invoke protections reserved for soldiers. This brings up another questionable fact that Guantanamo has never been declared a Prisoner of War Camp, with all the rights reserved by the Geneva Conventions to prisoners. Guantanamo, established by Bush and carried on by Obama, is in essence an “Enemy Combatant Camp,” in which anyone can be interned and, to this day, stripped of their rights.

Pohl had ruled that the defendants could wear what they want to court, so long as it did not pose a security risk or include any part of a U.S. military uniform like those worn by their guards.

Mohammed’s lawyers had argued that he should be allowed to wear a woodland-patterned camouflage vest to court because he wore one as part of a U.S.-armed Mujahadeen force fighting against Soviet troops that occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s. This article of clothing brings up another irony of our history, that it was the CIA who recruited, armed, trained, uniformed and funded the Mujahadeen to create a second front against the USSR, which was fighting in Afghanistan at that time for a decade, and which effectively broke the USSR’s economy. The phrase “Al Qaeda” was a file name on bin Laden’s laptop. It means “the base,” and was a lost of all those fighters that bin Laden had met in training and warfare against Afghanistan, and whom he felt were exceptional men.

“Mr. Mohammed has previously distinguished himself on the battlefield by wearing a military-style vest or clothing. He did it in Afghanistan for the U.S. government during that proxy war, he did it in Bosnia and he has a right to do it in this courtroom,” his defense attorney, Army Captain Jason Wright, had argued.

The United States is trying Mohammed and the other alleged al Qaeda captives as unlawful belligerents who are not entitled to the combat immunity granted to soldiers who kill in battle.

These captives could face the death penalty if convicted of charges that include conspiring with Al Qaeda, attacking civilians and civilian targets, murder in violation of the laws of war, destruction of property, hijacking and terrorism. And what about the U.S. soldiers who shocked, awed, and killed and wounded a million Iraqis or more? What is their penalty, besides the sickness of conscience that they feel, their wounds, their PTSD, the feeling that they will never be the same human beings again?

Under the Geneva Conventions, one of the things that separate soldiers from unlawful belligerents is the wearing of uniforms that distinguish them from civilians. Soldiers must also follow a clear command structure, carry arms openly and adhere to the laws of war. Well, Iraq was fought in an asymmetrical style of warfare, in the fashion of a guerrilla war.

War, it would seem, has departed ways with the Geneva Conventions, and does not adhere to the conventions any longer. If it did, George Bush, Dick Cheney, our present president and a cadre of others would be considered contenders for trials and convictions at The Hague.

Wright had argued that forbidding Mohammed from wearing military-style garb could undermine his presumption of innocence in the war crimes tribunal.

“The government has a burden to prove that this enemy prisoner of war is an unprivileged enemy belligerent,” said Captain Wright.

This, dear reader, is a true example of American Exceptionalism. Wright is brave man holding up the laws of our land and of war, and not afraid to speak his mind, unlike most of the sheep in Congress, the White House and the U.S. courts.

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer and life-long resident of New York City. An EBook version of his book of poems “State Of Shock,” on 9/11 and its after effects is now available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. He has also written hundreds of articles on politics and government as Associate Editor of Intrepid Report (formerly Online Journal). Reach him at gvmaz@verizon.net.

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