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Reporters grill top WH official for allowing Taliban to harbor al Qaeda — then Peter Doocy ratchets up the pressure

By CHRIS ENLOE | August 03, 2022


National Security Council coordinator John Kirby was peppered with questions Tuesday over how the Biden administration will respond to the Taliban violating the Doha Agreement.

The United States carried out a successful counterterrorism strike against the leader of al Qaeda over the weekend, killing Ayman al-Zawahiri. American operators were successful partly because al-Zawahiri was “hiding” in plain sight in a wealthy Kabul neighborhood, thus underscoring the type of impunity the Taliban have extended to al Qaeda after the fall of Afghanistan last year.

The close relationship between the Taliban and al Qaeda violates the Doha Agreement, a peace treaty negotiated under former President Donald Trump between the U.S. and the Taliban. Specifically, the agreement bars the Taliban from allowing al Qaeda to operate in Afghanistan, a provision the Taliban have clearly violated. With the Taliban in clear violation of the Doha Agreement — a reality Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged — reporters from multiple media outlets grilled Kirby over how exactly the Biden administration will respond.

“What will the repercussions be for the Taliban harboring al-Zawahiri?” ABC News chief White House correspondent Cecilia Vega asked.

“I’m not going to telegraph moves and decisions that we might make,” Kirby responded. “I’m certainly not going to get ahead of anything at this point.”

Kirby, however, disclosed that U.S. leaders have spoken with Taliban leaders for harboring al-Zawahiri, which he admitted is a clear violation of the Doha Agreement. But when NBC News chief White House correspondent Peter Alexander pressed Kirby on whether the Biden administration would hold accountable the Taliban, Kirby obfuscated, saying only that he will not “telegraph punches” and the Taliban know the U.S. is aware they violated the Doha Agreement. Kirby even suggested the Taliban might shape up because they want legitimization from Western powers.

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and John

Then Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy ratcheted up the pressure.

“You guys gave a whole country to a bunch of people that are on the FBI Most Wanted list. What did you think was going to happen?” Doocy pressed.

Kirby responded by saying he takes “issue with the premise that we gave a whole country to terrorist groups.”

“The Taliban was harboring the world’s number-one terrorist. How is that not giving a country to a terrorist-sympathizing group, if not giving them permission to have terrorists just sit on a balcony?” Doocy pressed.

Engaging in circular reasoning, Kirby then told Doocy the strike against al-Zawahiri is proof the U.S. is not idly permitting the Taliban to harbor al Qaeda terrorists. And in the end, Kirby praised Biden.

“I would go so far as to say not only the American people are safer as a result of President Biden’s decision, but the rest of the world is safer,” Kirby said.

Other reporters asked Kirby similar questions about the Taliban and their violations of the Doha Agreement, but he never offered substantive answers.

Kirby said violations of the agreement will “lead to consequences not just from the United States, but from the international community” — but he never said what any of those consequences would be.

9/11 Mastermind, 4 Co-Conspirators Still Awaiting Trial 18 Years Since Attacks

Reported by Edwin Mora | 

URL of the original posting site:

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, 911 mastermind, was allowed to build a vacuum will in a secret CIA prison in Romania keep him from going nuts. / HO/AFP/Getty Images

The death penalty trial of the self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind and his four co-conspirators held at the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, is still pending nearly two decades after the jihadis executed the attack, the deadliest on American soil.

In an unprecedented move, however, the judge overseeing the military tribunal at Gitmo finally set a date at the end of last month for the start of the trial for the five defendants.

On August 30, U.S. Air Force Col. Shane Cohen, who took over as the judge overseeing the case in June, said the trial would begin January 11, 2021, as the nation approaches the 20th anniversary of the day that triggered the longest war in American history.

The United States invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 to remove the Taliban from power for harboring the late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the days leading to the attack and prevent the South Asian country from again becoming a haven for terrorists seeking to attack America.

Afghanistan is now home to the “highest regional concentration” of terrorist groups in the world, including the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), the Pentagon reported in July.

Pre-trial hearings for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) and the four other men alleged to have played vital roles in helping carry out the massacre on September 11, 2001, resumed Monday.

As the U.S. holds another memorial service Wednesday for the nearly 3,000 people killed by al-Qaeda 18 years ago, the five defendants will still be awaiting trial.

KSM and his co-conspirators — Walid Muhammad Bin Attash, Ramzi Bin Al Shibh, Ali Abdul-Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Al Hawsawi — could face the death penalty.

The U.S. is still holding the five terrorists at the detention facility in Guantánamo, commonly known as Gitmo.

U.S. authorities did not arraign KSM and his four co-conspirators until May 2012, more than a decade after the attacks. American service-members captured KSM in 2003 and transferee him to Gitmo in 2006.

The military commission at Gitmo has repeatedly delayed the prospective trial of the 9/11 perpetrators in U.S. custody.

In setting the trial date, Judge Cohen acknowledged that the U.S. military base at Guantánamo “will face a host of administrative and logistics challenges,” the Military Times reported.

National Public Radio (NPR) added:

[A] number of other deadlines would need to be met for the long-delayed trial to begin.
That includes the U.S. government turning over all evidence it is required to give to defense attorneys. Lawyers for the five defendants say prosecutors have not been forthcoming.
Several defense attorneys told NPR they think the scheduled trial date is unrealistic, and they say Guantánamo isn’t physically ready for a trial of that magnitude. But prosecutors have been asking for a trial date for several years and say that finally having one will motivate all parties to meet the deadline.

The tribunal overseeing the case of the 9/11 attackers is a hybrid of the federal and military justice system.

This week, the German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) revealed:

Crucial pre-trial hearings for the accused mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks and four other men alleged to have played key roles in helping carry out the passenger plane hijackings will resume on Monday (September 9) in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
[KSM], who confessed to being involved in the capture and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, was subjected to extensive torture and was waterboarded 183 times.
The procedure simulates a drowning experience.
Lawyers for the defense are arguing that any confessions or other material should be invalidated because of the torture and are likely to file motions to have the entire trial set aside.

Gitmo is still housing 40 jihadis, the majority of whom are considered “forever prisoners,” or too dangerous to release.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has only transferred one detainee out of the facility. Former U.S. President Barack Obama had approved the prisoner for release.

The Trump administration is considering sending newly captured terrorists to the prison, particularly the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) jihadis.

Citing the slow-moving pace of the military commissions and the cost of operating Gitmo, critics continue to argue in favor of allowing civilian courts on U.S. soil to handle the remaining cases.

U.S. law approved under the Obama administration, however, makes it impossible to transfer any Guantánamo prisoner to the United States.

Gitmo’s military tribunals have only produced eight convictions, including four overturned completely and one partially.

KSM and the other four defendants are among the only seven prisoners still held at Gitmo who face charges before a “military commission.”

Of the four overturned convictions, the military commission will have to deal with three. The other prisoner has appealed his life sentence to the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. authorities only charged 16 detainees held at G with criminal offenses, Human Rights Watch reported.

Yemenis make up the single largest national group at the prison, followed by Saudis.

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