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National Post: Budget cuts could delay terrorism trial for Osama bin Laden son-in-law, chief al-Qaeda propagandist

NEW YORK — A judge said he found it “stunning” to hear Monday that federal budget woes could delay the start of a terrorism trial for Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan’s comment came as he set deadlines for lawyers to submit pre-trial arguments regarding Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who pleaded not guilty last month to charges that he conspired to kill Americans in his role as al-Qaeda’s top propagandist after Sept. 11, 2001.

The charismatic al-Qaeda spokesman was shown in early October 2001, sitting with bin Laden and current al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri in what became a heavily watched propaganda video. Prosecutors say he had called on every Muslim to join the fight against the United States, declaring that “jihad is a duty.”

Ghaith, who was brought to the U.S. last month, was handcuffed as he was led into a courtroom on Monday. The handcuffs were taken off before he listened through headphones to an Arabic translator.

Kaplan said he was considering starting the trial as early as September, drawing protests from defence lawyers who said the 5.1 per cent across-the-board federal budget cuts known as sequestration required all public defenders to be furloughed for more than five weeks by autumn.

The judge left open the possibility that the trial may not begin until next year.

Al-Jazeera / The Associated Press
Al-Jazeera / The Associated PressThis image made available by Al-Jazeera shows Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law and spokesman

Defence lawyers said they expected to ask the judge to toss out a 22-page statement Abu Ghaith provided after his Feb. 28 arrest in Jordan.

They also said they were likely to seek a change of venue. The federal courthouse in lower Manhattan is located just blocks from the World Trade Center complex.

Efforts to change the location where a trial is held or to challenge post-arrest statements have been unsuccessful in previous terrorism trials in Manhattan.

The single notable exception occurred when the Obama administration announced it was going to conduct a civil trial in New York for Khalid Sheik Mohammad, who has claimed responsibility for the 9-11 attacks, and four others, only to return the cases to military tribunal proceedings amidst an uproar over security concerns.

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Where is Michael Moore’s Next Film?

NB: The Huffington Post, for whom I have written for the past few years, rejected this post.  “It’s just not right for us,” they told me.  This is the second straight post they’ve rejected, and both lean to the right.  So much for the free exchange of ideas, HuffPost.  –AA

The timeline of events which occurred in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including an ambassador of the United States, has made it unambiguous that a third-rate YouTube video was not the impetus of the attacks on the American embassy. We now know, without any doubt, that there was no protest by Libyan Muslims whose feelings were hurt (as if that would have been an excuse to riot in the first place). No, this was a terrorist attack against Americans on the eleventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11. And this isn’t just the opining of some right-wing groups: even CBS is reporting this.

With such a scandal upon us, I’ve been eagerly awaiting an announcement from documentarian Michael Moore that a new film is in the works. By choosing September 11 to strike, the terrorists even did Moore a favor and set him up with the obvious title: Fahrenheit 9/11: The Sequel. Remember Moore’s famous scene of President George W. Bush sitting in the Florida classroom as an on-screen timer ticked away until Bush made a move? The Sequel could show the calendar flipping as President Obama and his most senior staff continue to blame the insipid video for days on end. There’s plenty of video from which Moore can choose: the Secretary of State at the transfer of the remains ceremony; the ambassador to the United Nations on the Sunday morning shows saying that it was not a pre-planned attack; and of course, the president himself before the United Nations. There’s even horrific footage of Ambassador Stevens being dragged in the streets. To cap it off, he could interview the father of one of the dead Navy SEALs who gave his life for his country in Benghazi (though he might not like what he hears). He could wrap up the film by showing the viewer that by perpetuating the falsehood that the video The Real Life of Mohammad was at the root of the murders, millions more people saw it, leading to more violence in the streets near U.S. embassies in the Middle East.

But oddly, Michael Moore has been silent about any plans for another expose on a terrorism-related scandal. Instead, he seems emboldened to throw his formidable weight behind the president in the face of the death of Americans, including two Navy SEALs. Rather, he’s produced an odd commercial so NSFW that it could never air on television. It appears only on the web, and features elderly people threatening violence–using the most vulgar expletives–should Mitt Romney win the election.

The video is plainly exploitative as it seems to be an attempt to derive humor from seeing old people curse, as if people of their age wouldn’t normally know dirty language. In fact, I wonder why the AARP hasn’t condemned it. And its threats are geared towards those who might “steal” the election away from Obama through voter suppression. That’s truly perplexing, because national polls show Romney either leading or tied in the race, and I’ve heard no credible claims of pollster suppression. One wonders how Moore and his nonagenarians could believe that Romney can only win by keeping people away from the polls when in fact there’s every indication that he’s ahead.

It seems evident that the real suppression that is occurring involves not voters, but the story of the Benghazi cover-up. Fortunately for the president, there’s little time between now and November 6th for an inquiry to expose the bumbling plan to keep the American people from knowing what really happened in Libya on 9/11/12. One day, though, one of President Obama’s favorite quotes will come back to haunt him, as sunlight serves as a disinfectant on the events in Benghazi.

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9/11 Villains Appear Before Tribunal

USA TODAY

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) — Five Guantanamo prisoners charged in the Sept. 11 attacks returned before a military tribunal Monday, forgoing the protest that turned their last appearance into an unruly 13-hour spectacle.

But the apparent cooperation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has said he masterminded the worst terror attack on U.S. soil, and four codefendants did little to speed up proceedings that have stuck in a legal and political morass for years.

Prosecutors and lawyers spent hours arguing the most preliminary of issues, including whether the defendants have to be in court at all, with one attorney saying the hearings may dredge up bad memories of their harsh treatment in CIA detention.

“Our clients may believe that … I don’t want to be subjected to this procedure that transports me here, brings up memories, brings up emotions of things that happened to me,” said Jim Harrington, who represents Ramzi Binalshibh, accused of helping to provide support to the hijackers who crashed planes into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001.

The five men sat quietly at the defense tables under the watchful eyes of military guards and several 9/11 family members at the U.S. base in Cuba. Mohammed, his beard dyed a rust color with henna, serenely read legal papers. Two others responded politely to the judge when asked.

All seemed to cooperate with their attorneys in a specially designed high-tech courtroom that allows the government to muffle sounds so spectators behind a glass wall cannot hear classified information.

The orderly scene was in stark contrast to their arraignment in May on charges that include terrorism and murder. At that session, one prisoner was briefly restrained for acting out, Binalshibh launched into an incoherent rant, the men generally ignored the judge and refused to use the court translation system, and two stood up to pray at one point.

Harrington told the court that the defendants may want to boycott future court sessions because they don’t recognize the U.S. government’s authority, or because their transportation from their high-security cells may remind them of the harsh treatment they endured when confined in the CIA’s overseas network of secret prisons before they came to Guantanamo in September 2006.

Prosecutors want the men to be required to attend court sessions. The military judge, Army Col. James Pohl, is weighing several options, including allowing them to skip months of pretrial sessions but requiring their presence at the trial. He had not ruled on the issue before the court adjourned Monday for lunch and a prayer break.

Pohl is presiding over a weeklong hearing to consider about two dozen preliminary legal issues. An eventual trial is likely at least a year away.

The focus of the week’s hearings include broad security rules for the prisoners, including measures to prevent the accused from publicly revealing what happened to them in the CIA prisons.

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