Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Four Co-Defendants Seek to Plead Guilty

_44719290_ap226bodyksmThere are reports today that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-defendants have indicated that they want to plead guilty to the charges that they are facing before a US military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It is a bizarre turn of events when the defendants were likely to see new rights granted under an Obama Administration. I will be discussing the development today on the BBC and later on Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.

Army Colonel Stephen Henley, the tribunal judge, stated on Monday that “The accused in this case had decided that they wished to withdraw all motions… and wished to enter pleas in what was termed as confessions in this case.” When asked by the judge if he was prepared to enter pleas Monday to all the charges, Mohammed reportedly said “Yes. We don’t want to waste time.”

It is unclear if these men know about the likely change in their status in January. Mohammed is clearly facing the death penalty on the charges.

The decision to plead guilty brings to mind the behavior of Zacarias Moussaoui, who appeared to be a barking lunatic made more unpredictable by years of segregation.

For the full story, click here.

12 thoughts on “Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Four Co-Defendants Seek to Plead Guilty”

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  2. Here’s an update from this A.M. It appears to shed some light on what is happening. Here’s a starter quote and I’ll put in the link in the next post:

    “The news out of Guantanamo yesterday was perplexing, with first reports saying that the five detainees–including alleged mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed–wanted to plead guilty, then the apparent withdrawal of those pleas when the issue of the competency of two of the men was raised.”

  3. The following is from today’s article in Salon. It is a description of torture of one detainee. The entire article is quite interesting as it is speaking of both right and left wing “think tanks” coming together to urge Obama to keep up the indefinite detention of prisoners, just not at Gitmo. There is definitely something very unholy going on with these detainees and we are only seeing the surface of it.

    “Qahtani — who U.S. officials believe may have been the intended “20th hijacker” — was subjected to perhaps the most meticulous and brutal torture protocol of any Guantánamo detainee: his “interrogation logs” for a 50-day period in 2002 and 2003, leaked to and published by Time magazine, make for harrowing reading. Qahtani was strapped down, injected with fluids, and forced to urinate on himself; he was subjected to prolonged sleep deprivation, often woken in the middle of the night by dripping water or blaring pop music; his head and beard were forcibly shaved; he was left naked in a frigid room and forced to stand for prolonged periods; he was sexually humiliated by female interrogators; he was menaced by dogs and was himself led around on a leash and forced to bark like one. An FBI agent who witnessed some of this abuse wrote that Qahtani had been “subjected to intense isolation for over three months” and “was evidencing behavior consistent with extreme psychological trauma (talking to nonexistent people, reporting hearing voices, crouching in a cell covered with a sheet for hours on end).”

  4. I think these pleas should not be accepted for both a moral and practical reason. No plea can hold up when given by people who have been tortured. Until a full investigation that rafflaw mentions above has taken place all and full and fair access to attorneys is granted these pleas cannot be accepted. As well we need a complete investigation into what actually happened to the detainees. Seton Hall says those “interrogations” were taped and I’m certain those tapes are somewhere. They should be released to the public.

    Practically speaking everything that happens at Gitmo is a terrorist recruitment tool. After years of isolation/torture it is impossible to say if these men wish to die martyrs or just wish to die, and being a martyr makes their death have some meaning.

    The timing of these pleas is suspicious. There is no limit to the unholy actions of cheneybush and nothing should happen to any terrorist suspect until they are no longer in power.

  5. Has anyone considered that this is coerced precisly to corner Obama? If you are going to tourture, who knows what other threats have been made to family etc..

  6. I gotta say that everyone is missing the big picture here. What better way to be a marytar, than not only to die for your ideaology, but help keep in place those fantastic recuiting tools. By pleading guilty Mohammed is ensuring that the techniques used to interrogate him are off the table and American law doesnt get the chance to prevail. The fact they made their decision on election day proves it. They knew Obama would transfer them to a real court, where they could hire an attorney that they trust and probably get off b/c of the torture. If that happened the world would see that we hold the law above all else,,thus destroying many Muslims disbelief in our system. But if they are convicted and executed, then the stain on America sticks,,,,possibly for good, at least in the Muslim world. No matter what Obama does.
    What the GITMO court should do, the honorable thing, would be to recuse the court. Everyone knows that Obama has made it crystal clear that the court and Gitmo will close very shortly after swearing in. The court knows they are basically more lame duck than even the president….at least the office of president will remain, the court and GITMO wont.

    The thing I want to know is what will the ICC do after these guys leave office??
    Can Bush leave office w/o a pardon for himself??? B/c as far as i can tell the Constitution doesnt allow the president to pardon himself.

    Peace always,,

  7. H,
    It is not hard to stop the execution since KSM was tortured and any evidence derived from that torture should be inadmissable. They could be making the confessions in order to be martyrs of a unfair military commission system, before Obama comes in and provides a fair trial process which could make them look more like criminals instead of martyrs. As Jill has stated above, the evidence is becoming overwhelming that the torture at Gitmo was pervasive. With both the inmates and former prosecution attorneys going public about the torture, the only way the detainees will be able to be legitimately tried is if the FBI does a whole new investigation without the use of the tainted evidence derived from torture. It will be difficult, but the FBI has done it before. It is the only fair and truly American way to handle these detainees who were victimized by torturers.
    I just saw Prof. Turley on Rachel Maddow and I agree that the detainees are hard to understand, but some of that “crazy” behavior could be due to the torture and long term incarceration that they were subjected to.

  8. so if KSM is sentenced to death before Obama takes office, what does Obama do? Whatever the legal arguments, politically it’s hard to justify stopping his execution.

  9. The following is from Alternet. It describes a Col. who has come forward with charges of widespread torture at Gitmo:

    “there is no debate that the U.S. military tortured detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Not when you have former Gitmo prosecutors like Lt Col Darrel Vandeveld coming forward to testify about the atrocities that occurred there.

    Col Vandeveld told the BBC this week about the Gitmo detainees who had been mistreated in order to secure confessions. In one particularly brutal case, Col Vandeveld discovered “indisputable evidence” regarding the mistreatment of an Afghan named Mohammed Jawad, who had been accused of throwing a grenade at a U.S. military vehicle.

    According to the BBC, “After Jawad had tried to commit suicide by banging his head against a wall at Guantanamo, Col Vandeveld says that psychologists who assisted interrogators advised taking advantage of Mr Jawad’s vulnerability by subjecting him to specialist interrogation techniques known as ‘fear up’.” Interrogators then subjected Jawad to the sleep deprivation technique known as the “frequent flyer” program, in which prisoners were moved from cell to cell every few hours until they confessed.”

    With this going on it truly makes these pleas hard to accept at face value.

  10. These pleas are strange. We know Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded and evidence has been leaking out confirming other types of torture at Gitmo. This and the lack of access to proper legal counsel makes it nearly impossible to know if this is really the choice of the defendents. I would like to see a civilian trial go forward under the rule of law.

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