Inside Story America

Where are the Guantanamo legal files?

Hearings in the Guantanamo war crimes tribunals have been delayed after legal defence files vanished from Pentagon PCs.

A week long hearing in the case of the man accused of masterminding the USS Cole bombing in 2000 was due to begin in just a few days.

Somebody, some agency accessed defence computers that were supposed to be secure. Documents were gone, then they would come back, some were completely deleted. We know that  seven GB of documents have disappeared … There are some very  troubling things that have happened to the defence server. In the Nashiri case for example a file disappeared for a week, and came back into the server, but had a somewhat different name …. All the irregularities appear to have affected only the defence.” 

– Richard Kammen, a  lawyer representing Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri

But the trial has now been delayed after his defence revealed that thousands of legal documents had disappeared from what was supposed to be secure Department of Defense servers.

It is just the latest in a string of alleged breaches of confidential communications.

Defence attorneys also accuse officials of mishandling more than half a million attorney-client privileged emails. And earlier this year it was revealed that there were listening devices disguised as smoke detectors in attorney-client meeting rooms. Military officials subsequently insisted that no-one have listened in.

In the light of the latest revelations, the defence lawyers for those accused of taking part in the 9/11 attacks have also asked for a delay in their hearings. 

So what exactly happened with those documents? Where is this information going? Who is accessing it? And how is it being accessed?

Inside Story Americas, with presenter Shihab Rattansi, discusses with guests: Richard Kammen, a lawyer representing Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri at the Guantanamo military tribunals; and Morris Davis, a former chief prosecutor at Guantamo Bay from September 2005 until October 2007.

Who is really being targeted in US drone attacks?

US President Barack Obama and his administration have always insisted that the CIA’s drone strike programme has only targeted high-level al-Qaeda leaders and affiliates who pose an imminent threat to the US. 

There are two authorisations for force, one under US law and one under the international law. Under the US law the AUMF remains the principal legal document, which really limits the United States to those actors that are related, and were involved in the 9/11 attacks, and I think the reporting that was done by McClatchy here … raises a real question about the extent to which current US drone operations are focusing exclusively on those that were involved in 9/11 … We know for example that Ned Muhammad the first person who was killed in the US drone strike in Pakistan … was a tribal anti-Pakistani government leader, and was not directly connected to the 9/11 attacks.

– Omar Shakir, the co-author of Living under Drones

But a new investigation has revealed that many low-level operatives and people only thought to be associated with armed groups have also been killed.

The McClatchy newspaper group’s examination of classified US intelligence reports is the first independent analysis of the administration’s internal accounting of drone attacks since they began.

It found that of the estimated 482 people the CIA killed in the 12 months leading up to September 2011, at least 265 were not senior al-Qaeda leaders, 43 of the 95 drone strikes in the same period hit groups other than al-Qaeda.

The reports also estimated that there was one civilian casualty during that time. 

So is the American administration really being transparent with the use of drones? And who is really being targeted and killed? 

Joining us is the investigative reporter behind the McClatchy investigation, Jonathan Landay.

Inside Story Americas, with presenter Shihab Rattansi, discusses with guests:Jonathan Landay, the reporter behind the Mclatchy Investigation; Omar Shakir, the co-author of Living Under Drones; and Colonel Morris Davis, a former chief prosecutor at Guantamo Bay.

“They are very careful on how the choose their words, and they tend to paint this under the law of war ..they totally disregard that the law of war does not apply to the CIA, which is a civilian agency that is not governed above the Geneva conventions. So to target this individuals… it has to be consistent with the US laws, which is well and good, but we are killing people on other countries …. There have been extraordinaly secret of about what their criteria is … they say trust us, we are complying with the law but we can’t tell you what that is.” 

-Morris Davis, a former Guantanamo chief prosecutor