Professor George Edwards Observes Pre-trial Hearings of Guantanamo Bay Detainees


Professor George EdwardsProfessor George Edwards traveled to Fort Meade in Maryland on December 19 to observe secure satellite television feeds of pre-trial hearings for detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The hearings were in the case of five defendants who are accused of masterminding the September 11 World Trade Center attacks. The hearings were held in Cuba, but the Pentagon has secure satellite feeds which permit viewing in the United States. Two of the viewing sites are at the Fort Meade military base; the other is in New York City.

“Secure satellite viewing is not the same thing as being at Guantanamo in person,” Edwards said. “I was at the Guantanamo Bay base in 2007 as an expert witness in the case of David Hicks, an Australian ‘detainee’ who ended up being the first person convicted before a U.S. Military Commission since World War II. Things have changed.”

The hearing on December 19 lasted less than 10 minutes, Edwards said. One of the defendants has argued that his U.S. guards have been too loud and that he can’t sleep at night, meaning he can’t participate in his defense. The judge in the case ordered psychiatric testing on this particular defendant, Edwards said. Hearings are to recommence in February, but it is unclear whether that will happen.

Edwards hopes to be able to take IU McKinney students to the next round of hearings for Guantanamo detainees, as students have expressed interest in being able to observe the hearings. He has petitioned the Pentagon to allow the Program in International Human Rights Law to have official civilian observer status. This status would permit students to be on the list for travel to Guantanamo Bar to observe proceedings in all the cases.

IU McKinney has other ties to the proceedings at Guantanamo Bay. Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David, ’82, has served as chief defense counsel at Guantanamo Bay; and Richard Kammen, who teaches as an adjunct professor, is currently defense counsel in one of the cases there.

Professor Edwards is the Carl M. Gray Professor of Law, and the founding director of the Program in International Human Rights Law.

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