Judge slams military efforts to limit GITMO detainee access to lawyers
Detainee walking at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
September 6th, 2012
06:32 PM ET

Judge slams military efforts to limit GITMO detainee access to lawyers

By Bill Mears

A federal judge used tough language to block efforts by the Obama administration to limit the legal rights of terror suspects held at the GuantanamoBay military prison inCuba, ruling Thursday that proposed changes were an "illegitimate exercise of executive power."

Officials of the departments of Justice and Defense had claimed they alone should decide when the prisoners deserve regular access to their attorneys.

But in a 32-page ruling, Judge Royce Lamberth said federal courts had proper authority to decide the matter, and criticized the executive branch for recently changing the procedures, when he said the current system was working well.

"The old maxim 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' would seem to caution against altering a counsel-access regime that has proven safe, efficient, and eminently workable," said Lamberth. "Indeed," he added, "the government had no answer when the court posed this question in oral arguments" last month.

"Access to the courts means nothing without access to counsel," added the judge.

Justice Department lawyers said they have started restricting when Guantanamo prisoners could challenge their detention in the Washington-based federal court. If approved, any relaxing of the rules would be made on a case-by-case basis at the exclusive discretion of military officials, not by the courts.


Robotic “cheetah” sets new speed record
September 6th, 2012
05:46 PM ET

Robotic “cheetah” sets new speed record

The fastest robot ever, dubbed "Cheetah," just zoomed past its own speed record and surpassed the fastest known human dash, clocking 28.3 mph during a treadmill test.

Cheetah's previous record speed was 18 mph, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the military's research-and-development arm.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqpO58x7vuE&w=500&h=281%5D

Usain Bolt set the world record for human speed when he reached 27.28 mph for a 20-meter split during a 100-meter sprint, according to the International Association of Athletics Federations. While reveling in the record, the research agency threw Bolt a bone, admitting the Cheetah had a slight advantage as it ran on a treadmill.

The agency has worked with Boston Dynamics on the Cheetah to create legged robots that "don't sacrifice speed for mobility on rough terrain," it said.

The high-speed running bot will be tested on natural terrain next year.

If Cheetah the bot, however, were to meet the animal it was designed after, there is no question which would win in a race.

Real cheetahs can run faster than any other land animal, regularly clocking as fast as 60 mph in short bursts. Their robotic cousin still has a way to go to beat that pace.

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Filed under: DARPA
On Jerusalem, political parties prone to pander
September 6th, 2012
05:22 PM ET

On Jerusalem, political parties prone to pander

By Elise Labott CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter

Much is being made of the Democrats' decision to remove a reference to Jerusalem being Israel's capital from the party's political platform, and President Barack Obama's decision to put it back in.

The partisan politics over this issue, however, is missing the point.

Everyone knows when it comes to the issue of Israel, presidential candidates will say almost anything to get elected. But few of their promises are ever delivered on.


Judge orders Maj. Nidal Hasan forcibly shaved for court martial
Bell Co., Texas Sheriff's Office Photo
September 6th, 2012
03:16 PM ET

Judge orders Maj. Nidal Hasan forcibly shaved for court martial

By Larry Shaughnessy

Col. Gregory Gross, the judge who will oversee the military trial of Maj. Nidal Hasan, ordered the Army psychiatrist to be forcibly shaved for his trial, according to Tyler Broadway, a spokesman at Fort Hood.

The order is likely to trigger an appeal that would further delay the case, which has dragged on now since 2009.

Hasan's attorney had filed an appeal when Gross threatened to order the shaving but the appeals court said it wouldn't issue a decision until the shaving was actually ordered. Thursday's order by Gross opens the door for that appeal.

The last time he was in court, Hasan told the judge, "Your honor, in the name of almighty Allah, I am a Muslim. I believe that my religion requires me to wear a beard."

Gross has said the beard violates Army regulations and Hasan is still an officer in the U.S. Army and subject to regulations.

Hasan's court-martial had been scheduled to start last month at Fort Hood, in Killeen, Texas, where he is accused of killing 13 people and wounding 32.

His lawyers can now go to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, an independent tribunal with worldwide jurisdiction over active-duty members of the U.S. armed forces and others subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The District of Columbia-based court is made up of five civilian judges appointed for 15-year terms by the president. Decisions of the court are subject to direct appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Such an appeals process could delay Hasan's criminal trial for months if not years.

CNN's Bill Mears contributed to this report

Report: Libyans claim waterboarding, other CIA abuses
Human Rights Watch says the CIA interrogated detainees before handing them over to Moammar Gadhafi.
September 6th, 2012
03:13 PM ET

Report: Libyans claim waterboarding, other CIA abuses

By Chelsea J. Carter and Joe Sterling, CNN

An alleged new case of waterboarding emerged in a massive report Thursday detailing brutal CIA interrogations of Libyan detainees last decade before they were handed over to Moammar Gadhafi's regime.

Mohammed al-Shoroeiya "provided detailed and credible testimony that he was waterboarded on repeated occasions during U.S. interrogations in Afghanistan," Human Rights Watch said in a 200-plus page report.

The allegations directly challenge long-standing claims by President George W. Bush and his administration that only three terror suspects, none of whom were Libyan, were waterboarded during interrogations.

Human rights groups consider waterboarding - in which a prisoner is restrained and water poured over his mouth and nose to produce the sensation of drowning - a form of torture.

"While never using the phrase 'waterboarding,' he said that after his captors put a hood over his head and strapped him onto a wooden board, 'then they start with the water pouring. ... They start to pour water to the point where you feel like you are suffocating.' He added that 'they wouldn't stop until they got some kind of answer from me,'" the report said.

Click here for the full story

Filed under: Afghanistan • Central Intelligence Agency • CIA • Gadhafi • Intelligence • Libya • Libya
September 6th, 2012
02:35 PM ET

Clinton: Russia, China on board with the U.S.

Russia and China back the U.S. pressure on Iran, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told CNN's Jessica Yellin in an exclusive interview.

"With respect to these very stringent sanctions, Russia and China have been cooperating," Clinton said.

Filed under: China • Clinton • Russia • State Department
Navy Seals: A battle for the conscience
Active duty Navy SEALS at February premiere of "Act of Valor"
September 6th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

Navy Seals: A battle for the conscience

By Barbara Starr

(CNN) - Deep inside the military's special operations forces there is a crisis of conscience unfolding. The publication of "No Easy Day," a former Navy SEAL's account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, is forcing many to rethink a fundamental point of military honor. How much should America's commandos talk about what they do?

It's a debate that goes beyond disclosure of classified information, which is a crime. The discussion now centers on honor, ethics and cultural values inside the ranks.

"This is a battle for the conscience of the SEALs," a recently retired senior SEAL told me.

He served for decades in operational positions in the force, and has never told me any of the details of his missions. For years he did what every SEAL has done: Go on raids, find targets and, if necessary, kill them. It's what the nation asks of them.

Buzz ramps up over SEAL's bin Laden book

The question now: Is the SEAL community taking that Tom Clancy superman image and turning it into celebrity? "Was No Easy Day" indeed that last straw?