Inside a Terrorist’s Plea Bargain

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In Heritage Work

Guantanamo Bay

The plea deal between the government and a terrorist detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, “is a significant milestone in the war against terror,” says Heritage Foundation legal scholar Charles Stimson.

Majid Khan’s plea deal, in which he agreed to testify against other terrorists, may mean more trials and more guilty pleas by terrorists, Stimson argues. The government followed a similar model in taking down the Gambino crime family in New York.

Khan pleaded guilty  to charges of conspiracy, murder, support for terrorism, and spying before a military commission. In exchange for his plea and cooperation in testifying against future detainees, he will receive a prison sentence capped at 25 years.

But how did this extraordinary plea agreement come to pass?

Stimson explains:

After the 9/11 attacks, Khan, who had graduated from Owings Mills High School in Baltimore, traveled to Karachi, Pakistan, to “explore the possibility of entering Afghanistan and understanding jihad from close terrorist associates.

Once in Pakistan, an unnamed co-conspirator introduced Khan to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Khan told KSM that his family owned gas stations in the United States, and they discussed a plot to blow up underground gasoline storage tanks at gas stations in the United States and poison water reservoirs. KSM ordered Khan to attend training on explosive device detonators and timers and then return to Baltimore in furtherance of the conspiracy.

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Debunking Myths About the National Defense Authorization Act

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In Heritage Work

The National Defense Authorization Act, passed by Congress last fall to provide funding and authority for America’s armed forces, included several provisions intended to strengthen America’s fight against terrorists.

Critics from across the political spectrum charge, however, that section 1021 of the bill creates or expands federal authority to detain United States citizens without due process.

“Those claims are false,” Heritage Foundation legal scholar Charles Stimson argues in a new report.

The NDAA has not impacted the conditions under which a U.S. citizen may (or may not) be detained. In fact, section 1021 of the NDAA is explicit: The law regarding how U.S. citizens are handled, including the right to habeas corpus, is the same today as it was the day before it was passed.

Stimson points to the text of the law, which states that: Continue Reading »

Video: Enhanced Interrogation Helps Catch bin Laden

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In Heritage Impact

In the 24 hours following the announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death, The Heritage Foundation’s experts appeared more than 70 times on media outlets across the country.

Heritage immediately went to work dissecting what the death of Osama means for U.S. national security policy. Cully Stimson, the former the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs, went on Fox News this morning to offer his insights into how the much-derided enhanced interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bay had a direct role in the effort to locate and kill Osama bin Laden.

Watch his appearance on Fox News this morning:

Bin Laden’s Death Vindicates U.S. Counter-Terrorism Efforts

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In Heritage Work

Last night, President Obama announced that American servicemen had shot and killed terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

“For over two decades bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies,” the President explained in a speech to the nation. ”The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.”

Right he is. Bin Laden’s death sends a clear message to the world that America remains committed to hunting down its enemies for as long it takes. But it also underscores the importance of our counterterrorism efforts both at home and abroad. Continue Reading »

WikiLeaks Target Guantanamo. Heritage Responds

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Camp Justice, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Wikileaks and the New York Times have revealed secrets about Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Photo: Flickr/News Hour

“It is long past time for the U.S. Congress to update the nation’s espionage laws,” Heritage national security expert James Carafano writes in response to the latest WikiLeaks disclosures.

He’s absolutely right.

The latest batch of classified information WikiLeaks let loose involves the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Thanks to Wikileaks founder Julian Assuage and his “partners” like the New York Times, our foes can now access classified information about individuals currently or formerly held at Guantanamo, “including material gleaned from interrogations,” notes one press report.

The release of such highly sensitive information is both illegal and a threat to national security. However, the documents in question “largely confirm what we already know about the detention facilities at Guantanamo,” writes Carafano, who has been to the detention facility many times.

The detainees remain at Guantanamo “for good reason,” he continues:

The detainees who are left are either serious risks to U.S. security or there is no safe place to release them. Keeping the facilities open makes sense. As Heritage has noted, “The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is first-rate, and detainees are well treated. Congress should deny funds to close the facility until it is no longer needed.”

How would you update our nation’s espionage laws?

Heritage on TV Today: Guantanamo and Wikileaks

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In Heritage Impact

James Carafano

James Carafano

Today at 12:20 p.m. Eastern on Fox News and at 12:30 p.m. Eastern on Britain’s Sky TV, Heritage national security expert James Carafano will discuss the Guantanamo Bay secrets made public by Wikileaks.

Justice is Coming…Nearly Ten Years Later

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In Heritage Impact

After ten years of waiting, the families of the nearly 3,000 individuals killed in the September 11th attacks received a glimmer of hope for justice on Monday when the Department of Justice announced that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-conspirators would be tried in front of a military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Lawmakers at both the national and local levels approved of the decision, which marks a major shift in the Obama administration’s policies towards enemy combatants.

President Obama has a history of poor judgment on this issue, and The Heritage Foundation has been tracking every decision closely for the past two years. In January 2009, he signed an executive order to shut down the detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Attorney General Eric Holder announced shortly thereafter that Mohammed and his co-conspirators would be brought before a civilian court in Manhattan, just blocks away from where the Twin Towers stood. Citizens and politicians from both sides of the aisle joined in vociferous opposition to both moves.

One of the strongest voices for sanity on this issue has been Heritage senior legal fellow Cully Stimson, who previously served as the Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Detainee Affairs.

“The administration deserves credit for making this decision, however late in coming,” Stimson writes:

All along, a majority of the American people supported the use of military commissions to try terrorists. Regardless of the reasons for [Monday’s] announcement, the administration has finally made a choice.  The victims of 9/11 have waited too long for justice.  The trial, which will take years to complete even in military commissions, is huge step in the right direction.

Stimson testified this morning before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism and Homeland Security about the use of military commissions in terrorism cases. Follow Stimson’s testimony here.

Heritage on TV Today: Guantanamo Bay

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In Heritage Impact

Cully Stimson

Cully Stimson

Today at 12:05 p.m. Eastern on Fox News’ “Happening Now,” Heritage Foundation legal expert Cully Stimson will discuss President Obama’s decision on Guantanamo Bay detainees.

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