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US pushing ahead with Qaeda military tribunals.

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US pushing ahead with Qaeda military tribunals

Sources say number of cases probably low

By Susan Schmidt and Bradley Graham, Washington Post, 11/18/2002

WASHINGTON - The government is nearly ready to go forward with military tribunals for suspected Al Qaeda operatives in US custody in Cuba and Afghanistan, pending completion of final details and approval from President Bush, according to federal officials.

William J. Haynes II, the Pentagon general counsel, has met in recent weeks with senior officials in other agencies, including the Justice Department, to outline the plans for the tribunals, also known as military commissions.

The moves, officials said, confirm the government's intention to put Al Qaeda prisoners on trial in special military courts in the near future. Until now, US officials have been preparing rules and regulations for the tribunals, but have suggested they were unsure if the military courts would ever be used.

Bush will make the decision about moving forward on specific cases.

The military proceedings currently are contemplated only for a small number of prisoners held in camps outside the United States and would be conducted outside this country, sources said. Only a small number of the approximately 625 detainees in the US Navy prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the 100 or so in a US military compound in Bagram, Afghanistan, are ever likely to be taken before a tribunal, they said.

Though there has been speculation that accused Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui might be moved from federal court in Virginia to a military tribunal, Justice Department officials said there is no plan to do so now.

The decision to push forward with tribunals comes at a time when US interrogators have gained information from a number of detainees that may prove useful in prosecuting other Al Qaeda operatives. Among those who have been providing significant information is Abu Zubaida, the high-ranking Al Qaeda leader whose information led to the apprehension in Chicago earlier this year of Jose Padilla, who was allegedly in the United States to scout targets for an attack with a radiological bomb.

Two others, Omar al-Farouq, the alleged Southeast Asia facilitator for Al Qaeda, and Muhammad Darbi, an alleged member of a Yemeni cell, have provided information about Al Qaeda plans and personnel in those regions, government sources have said.

More recently, interrogators have been questioning Ramzi Binalshibh, who admitted his role as a planner of the Sept. 11 attacks shortly before his capture.

Moussaoui, who is accused of conspiring with Binalshibh in the Sept. 11 attacks, has said he wants to call Binalshibh as a witness in his trial. That prospect, coupled with the recent decision of Justice Department officials to take a more active role in the handling of his case, has led to the theory that federal officials will move to dismiss the case and put Moussaoui, who is defending himself with the aid of court-appointed lawyers, before a military tribunal.

But government sources said the Justice Department has no interest in doing so. Because Moussaoui is in this country, he could try to fight such a move in federal court. That could open the tribunal process to a constitutional challenge, something the Bush administration wants to avoid.

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Tribunal expands wiretap authority

Earlier limits lifted on terrorist probes

By Lyle Denniston, Globe Correspondent, 11/19/2002

WASHINGTON - A special federal appeals court, giving the Bush administration unprecedented discretion to use secret wiretaps as a weapon in the fight against terrorism, unanimously removed limits yesterday that a lower court imposed earlier this year on the Justice Department's investigative powers.

In the first decision ever by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, which operates almost entirely in secret, the tribunal provided what appeared to be the clearest victory for the administration in the legal battles that have grown out of the war on terrorism.

The ruling was one of three developments of the day on the legal front in the antiterrorism campaign. A federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled that a coalition of clergy, lawyers, and law professors had no legal right to challenge the detention of individuals that the US military captured in Afghanistan and imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. In Washington, a federal appeals court held a hearing on a lower court decision to require the government to identify hundreds detained in the investigation of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The wiretapping decision by the special Court of Review made it clear that the Justice Department can use foreign intelligence wiretaps not only to gather data on spies or terrorists, but also to build evidence for criminal cases. The Bush administration was the first to take that position.

In May, a lower court had ruled that court-approved wiretaps to gather foreign intelligence could not be used if the goal was to prepare for criminal prosecutions.

The Court of Review disagreed, saying that foreign intelligence wiretapping is barred only when the ''sole objective'' is criminal prosecution. Otherwise, such electronic eavesdropping can be done to gather evidence for criminal cases, the three-judge panel ruled.

''The process cannot be used as a device to investigate wholly unrelated ordinary crimes,'' the higher court said.

Usually, when government investigators use electronic or other search techniques to gather criminal evidence, they must obtain a warrant. The law that authorizes foreign intelligence wiretaps dispenses with that requirement, allowing such surveillance under an order of a special secret court set up for that purpose in 1978, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in Washington. The Court of Review hears appeals of its rulings.

In its first decision, the court ruled that the expanded wiretap authority does not violate the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches or its requirement of a warrant before investigators may search for evidence. The authority ''is constitutional because the surveillances it authorizes are reasonable,'' the court ruled.

Attorney General John D. Ashcroft said the new ruling ''revolutionizes our ability to investigate terrorists and prosecute terrorist acts'' and ''affirmed President Bush's and Congress's call for greater cooperation and coordination in the war on terror.'' But Ashcroft said, ''We have no desire whatever to, in any way, erode or undermine the constitutional liberties here.''

Civil liberties advocates, who had joined in the court fight against broader wiretap powers, denounced the ruling.

''As of today, the attorney general can suspend the ordinary requirements of the Fourth Amendment in order to listen in on phone calls, read e-mails, and conduct secret searches of Americans' homes and offices,'' said Ann Beeson, a litigation director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The federal law authorizing foreign intelligence wiretaps set up lower courts to oversee that process, but did not provide for appeals from those tribunals to the Supreme Court in these circumstances. Beeson said lawyers opposed to the ruling were studying whether there is any way they can challenge the new authority in the Supreme Court.

The new decision, besides allowing foreign intelligence wiretaps to gather criminal evidence, tore down a wall that had existed inside the Justice Department since at least 1995, between staff who gather foreign intelligence about spies or terrorists, and other staff members involved in criminal prosecutions. When the Bush administration came into power, Justice Department officials decided that the wall was not required by federal law, and the Court of Review agreed.

Six months ago, that wall was raised significantly higher by seven judges on the intelligence oversight court. Criticizing the lower court for maintaining the wall of separation, the Court of Review said the panel ''did not provide any constitutional basis for its action; we think there is none.''

The lower court, it added, ''may well have exceeded the constitutional bounds that restrict'' the federal judiciary's power by asserting authority ''to govern the internal organization and investigative procedures ... which are the province of the executive branch.''

It is not up to a federal court, the Court of Review said, to inquire into ''the origins of an investigation'' or the personnel involved. ''All Justice Department officers are under the control of the attorney general. If he wishes a particular investigation to be run by an officer of any division, that is his prerogative.''

In addition, the appellate-level court found that the lower court had misconstrued the law that controls foreign intelligence wiretaps - a 1978 law, as well as the USA Patriot Act that Congress passed last year in response to the terrorist attacks.

The administration last year became the first to argue that federal law does not require a separation between its intelligence wiretap activities and its criminal prosecutions when investigators seek wiretaps to gather foreign intelligence.

The two staffs, the department contended, must remain free to work together closely to plot when and how to use wiretaps, and what to do with the information they gather - to build a criminal case, recruit a new spy or other secret source, or develop diplomatic or military strategies for coping with threats of espionage or terrorism.

Agreeing, the Court of Review said ''there is simply no basis'' for the lower court to have imposed limits on ''criminal prosecutors' ability to advise FBI intelligence officials'' about obtaining or expanding wiretaps that target those believed to be working for a foreign power against the United States.

The administration's position on such wiretapping had led to a running, behind-the-scenes legal feud between the department and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The feud broke into the open in August, when Congress belatedly disclosed the court's May ruling.

The tribunal laid down strict new requirements on how the Justice Department was to plan and carry out foreign intelligence wiretapping, and criticized FBI agents for having submitted false claims to justify wiretaps.

One requirement was that meetings of criminal prosecutors with intelligence staff members to plan a wiretapping had to be ''chaperoned'' by the office that supervises department's intelligence policies. The Court of Review ended those added requirements.

If the department applies for a foreign intelligence wiretap and the lower court is not satisfied, the Court of Review said, it can ask for more information, but it cannot dictate how the department plans the investigation, nor what it can do with evidence obtained through such surveillance.

This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 11/19/2002.

© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company

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Originally posted by bigmahs

If it were china it happened to their would be a aRAB hanged from every 10 yards on the Great Wall of China.

That's why you'll never be president either.

So when is Bush gonna be tried at HIS tribunal?

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Originally posted by normalnoises

That's why you'll never be president either.

So when is Bush gonna be tried at HIS tribunal?

zzzzz...... after all this time you have yet to provide a valid reason as to why Bush should be subject to a trial......

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