In the news

Desperate Housewife

By Edward T. Pound – U.S. News – December 19, 2005

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – “Hey baby, I miss you already. . . . I can’t wait until you come back so we can take care of each other . . . you know sex . . . sex . . . sex . . . and of course more sex.” John Diamond was crazy about Michelle Theer–and why not? He had never met anyone quite like her. She was really something–those soft, brown eyes, that adventuress nature. She held a doctorate degree in psychology, she was smart as a whip, she was easy to talk to, and she was a passionate lover–a “sexy, gorgeous, intelligent” woman, he gushed in another E-mail to her. Diamond was accustomed to getting his way with the ladies, but with Michelle, well, she was the one in control. “I love making your life easier,” he wrote another time. “That’s my function in life, you know.” Before long, if all went as planned, he would leave the Army, where he had trained as a sniper, and he and Michelle would live happily ever after.

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An interview with Michelle Theer

By Edward T. Pound – U.S. News – December 10, 2005

Michelle Theer is serving a life term without the possibility of parole in a North Carolina prison. She was convicted in the slaying of her husband, former Air Force pilot Marty Theer. Authorities say that she manipulated her lover, John Diamond, also jailed for life, into killing Theer, execution style, on a frigid December night five years ago. U.S. News interviewed Theer for six hours this past summer in the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh, N.C (she was moved to the Southern Correctional Institution, Troy, N.C., this past September). She did not testify at her trial last year, and this is the only interview she has ever given.

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Errors in investigation erode espionage case

By Laura Parker – USA TODAY – September 7, 2004

It was a shocking allegation: U.S. servicemen at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba were spying on America, and secretly helping terrorists held there.

That was the military’s claim a year ago when it filed charges that ominously described a spy ring that was sympathetic to suspected al – Qaeda operatives and Taliban soldiers held in a military prison at the base. But then in March, the Army abruptly dropped attempted espionage charges against Capt. James Yee, a Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo whom authorities had described as the spy operation’s “big fish.” Military officials said that pursuing a case against Yee would force them to reveal national secrets; critics questioned whether the Army really had a case.

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Accused airman's fellow translators not told about classified material

By Nicole Guadiano – Times staff writer – August 27, 2004

Colleagues of an Air Force linguist accused of attempted espionage at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba, will testify that they were never told that the letters they were translating to and from detainees were classified.

The defense attorney for Senior Airman Ahmad Al Halabi hopes testimony from the linguists, who are among more than 40 witnesses on a list obtained by Air Force Times, will refute the government’s argument that Al Halabi improperly mishandled classified material.

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Defense tries to get TAFB airman's espionage charges tossed out

By BRIAN HAMLIN, The Reporter, Vacaville (June 16, 2004)

Charging everything from investigatory incompetence to prosecutorial misconduct, defense attorneys for a young Travis Air Force Base enlisted man facing espionage charges hammered the prosecution Tuesday during six hours of pretrial motions.

Senior Airman Ahmad I. Al Halabi, 25, still faces 17 charges ranging from espionage and disobeying orders to improperly transporting classified information, photographing facilities in and around Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, unauthorized possession of secret documents and credit card fraud.

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Defense asks for charges to be dismissed against Travis airman

Sunday, May 23, 2004. By KIM CURTIS Associated Press Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — Defense lawyers asked a judge Saturday to dismiss all charges against a Travis Air Force Base translator accused of spying while working at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Citing “repugnant and illegal government and prosecutorial misconduct,” lawyers for Senior Airman Ahmad Al Halabi filed their formal request with a military judge.

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Spying suspect says evidence in case tainted

By Laura Parker – USA TODAY – May 21, 2004

The criminal case against a U.S. airman accused of attempted espionage for his dealings with terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been complicated by allegations that military investigators mishandled evidence, then tried to cover up their mistakes.

The alleged lapses helped to persuade a military judge overseeing the upcoming court-martial of Ahmad Al Halabi, 25, to release him from jail last week. Al Halabi had been held at a base in California since his arrest last July.

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Travis AFB Turmoil - Al Halabi’s crack defense team, led by one of America’s most brilliant military defense attorneys

By Don Rehkopf Jr.

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Remarks by Bush, Rumsfeld may have jeopardized fair trial for troops Commanders prejudged Abu Ghraib abuse cases

By Gail Gibson – Sun National Staff – May 7, 2004

As they scrambled to appease the Muslim world with sharp rebukes of the U.S. soldiers accused of mistreating Iraqi prisoners, President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld may have jeopardized a basic protection of military law – the idea that commanding officers should not prejudge cases where they ultimately could determine a soldier’s fate.

In the hierarchical world of the military courts, it is the doctrine known as “command influence.” And in the growing abuse scandal, military lawyers and legal scholars say efforts over the past few days to salvage America’s image in the Middle East may have come at the expense of basic fair trial rules for the accused soldiers.

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Chaplain’s Release Deflates Guantanamo “Spy Ring” Theory

By Katherine Stapp – April 23, 2004

Although spying charges have been dropped against a Muslim army chaplain ministering to the 600 prisoners at Washington’s Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba, the fate of two others facing similar accusations remains in doubt.

The chaplain, Capt. James Yee, was exonerated and returned to his post last week after spending 76 days in solitary confinement. His ordeal has been held up by many Arab and Muslim groups as further proof the U.S. government relies on racial and religious profiling in its hunt for suspected “terrorists.”

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Lawyers Request Dismissal Halabi Court Martial

By TChris – March 24, 2004

A court martial may be thwarted by the government’s interference with the accused’s right to discuss the evidence with his civilian lawyer. The government originally accused Senior Airman Ahmad Halabi of spying for Syria, although it dropped 13 of the original 30 counts, including espionage. The government claims that Halabi, a Syrian-American linguist who had been assigned to the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, tried to deliver messages from detainees to someone in Syria.

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Associated Press: 3 Counts Dropped Vs. Guantanamo Worker

By William C. Mann – Associated Press Writer – December 20, 2003

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Air Force has dropped three counts in an espionage case against a Syrian-born airman who worked as a translator at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison camp for terrorism suspects.

The lawyer for Senior Airman Ahmad I. al-Halabi, a supply clerk detailed to the prison, said Saturday that once those charges were removed, “simply the gut of the case was gone.”

Dropped was the single count in the charge that accused al-Halabi of “aiding the enemy,” a capital offense.

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Gitmo Translator’s Lawyers’ Offices Searched

By Associated Press – December 16, 2003

WASHINGTON — Military authorities searched offices of lawyers who represent an Air Force interpreter charged with spying at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison, one of the man’s lawyers said Tuesday.

The Air Force delayed a preliminary hearing for Senior Airman Ahmad I. al-Halabi because of the search and other actions last week that defense lawyers say have interfered with al-Halabi’s preparations for his military trial. The hearing, which had been scheduled for Monday, was rescheduled for Jan. 13, the Air Force said in a brief statement issued Tuesday.

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Marines Charged in POW Death

By Associated Press – October 19, 2003

LOS ANGELES – Eight Marine reservists accused in the mistreatment of prisoners of war in Iraq were being held Saturday at Camp Pendleton on charges ranging from negligent homicide to dereliction of duty, military officials said.

Meanwhile, a lawyer representing one of the men said the Army did not have the necessary personnel to run the detention camp and the reservists were untrained for the job.

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Marines face charges after POW’s death

By Associated Press – October 18, 2003

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) — Eight Marine reservists face charges ranging from negligent homicide to making false statements in connection with the mistreatment of prisoners of war in Iraq, military officials said Saturday.

Two of the men were charged with negligent homicide in connection with the June death of an Iraqi who was held at a detention facility, said Marine Staff Sgt. Bill Lisbon, a spokesman at Camp Pendleton.

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Cuban Military Tribunals Reflect Contempt for Our Constitution

By Jacob G. Hornberger – June 2, 2003

The federal government has announced that it intends to go forward with military tribunals for trials of suspected terrorists. The trials will not be held in the United States, however, but instead in Cuba, where military tribunals are also a central part of Fidel Castro’s “war on terrorism.”

In fact, when I visited Cuba a few years ago, I witnessed on Cuban national television a trial by military tribunal of a suspected terrorist with alleged CIA connections. I have to say that it was quite eerie seeing everybody in the courtroom, including the defense attorneys, dressed in military garb.

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U.S. Seeking Defense Lawyers For Guantanamo

By TalkLeft.com – May 23, 2003

Now that the chief prosecutor and chief defense counsel for any upcoming military tribunal trials are set, the issue turns to staffing the offices with capable prosecutors and defense counsel. While there is no shortage of volunteers for the prosecution side, not a single civilian lawyer has applied to be a defense lawyer.

No, it’s not because defense lawyers don’t wan’t to represent these particular individuals.

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Case tests limits of holding citizens in military prison

By Warren Richey – Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor – October 28, 2002

The US Constitution guarantees that Americans have a right to appear before an impartial judge whenever the government attempts to take away their liberty.

But should the so-called “privilege of the writ of habeas corpus” apply in the midst of a war on terrorism in the same way that it has during times of peace? And what if the alleged terrorist is a US citizen?

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Pentagon rules for military tribunals violate constitution rights

By Don Knowland – April 2, 2002

After a four-month delay, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld issued an order March 21 specifying the procedures for the military tribunals that will try alleged terrorists captured in Afghanistan. The rules are clearly designed to guarantee convictions that are unreviewable by any judicial authority in or outside the United States.

US media coverage and statements by US officials—including congressmen who criticized the initial Bush proposal for tribunals issued last year—suggest that the Pentagon rules represent a significant improvement over the initial plan. But the procedure remains fundamentally unfair, and Pentagon spokesmen indicated that prisoners could be detained indefinitely, even if they are acquitted, at the discretion of the president.

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