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Afridi’s Trial: Similar to Gitmo Military Commissions? Bonus: Rohrabacher Goes Bold

Abbottabad district, red, is within Kyhber Pakhtunkhwa Province, green, which is next to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, blue, where the town of Bara is in Khyber Agency. (Wikimedia Commons)

Fallout continues from yesterday’s sentencing of Dr. Shakeel Afridi, the doctor who helped the CIA to identify Osama bin Laden prior to the US raid that killed him. Marcy commented yesterday on the poor outcome from Leon Panetta disclosing Afridi’s cooperation with the CIA and I noted how the sentencing may have been one motivation behind the potential political impetus for yesterday’s drone strike in Pakistan (which has been followed up by yet another drone strike today).

I will get to the obligatory statement of outrage from Dana Rohrabacher in a bit, but first there is a very interesting article in Dawn that has a few details from Afridi’s trial. Although Afridi’s cooperation with the CIA occurred in Abbottabad, which is in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (formerly referred to as North West Frontier Province), Afridi was tried in the town of Bara, which is in the Khyber Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The map on the left shows the FATA in blue, most of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in green and the Abbottabad district in red.

In the Dawn quotations below, “Khyber” refers to Kyber Agency within FATA and not Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as far as I can tell.

Dawn describes where the trial took place and the convictions that were handed down:

Officials said Afridi had been tried at the office of assistant political agent (APA) in Bara. He was sentenced on the charges of conspiring “to wage war against Pakistan or depriving it of its sovereignty”, “concealing existence of a plan to wage war against Pakistan” and “condemnation of the creation of the state and advocacy of abolition of its sovereignty”.

“The trial conducted under the Frontier Crimes Regulation continued for one year during which Dr Afridi was denied the right to engage a lawyer,” said Rahat Gul, an administrative official at the Khyber House.

Dawn then moved on to citing criticism about where the trial took place:

Critics have said he should not have been tried under tribal law for an alleged crime that took place outside tribal jurisdiction, in the town of Abbottabad where he ran a fake vaccination programme designed to collect bin Laden family DNA.

A senior official in Khyber, Nasir Khan, defended Afridi’s trial.

“We have powers to try a resident of FATA (the federally administered tribal areas) under the FCR enforced in tribal areas,” he told AFP.

Hmmm. Venue-shopping. That would never happen in the US, especially when the chosen venue is seriously lacking in due process.

And the trial had to be secret so that Afridi would not be attacked: Read more

Many years ago, Jim got a BA in Radiation Biophysics from the University of Kansas. He then got a PhD in Molecular Biology from UCLA and did postdoctoral research in yeast genetics at UC Berkeley and mouse retroviruses at Stanford. He joined biosys in Palo Alto, producing insect parasitic nematodes for pest control. In the early 1990’s, he moved to Gainesville, FL and founded a company that eventually became Entomos. He left the firm as it reorganized into Pasteuria Biosciences and chose not to found a new firm due a clash of values with venture capital investors, who generally lack all values. Upon leaving, he chose to be a stay at home dad, gentleman farmer, cook and horse wrangler. He discovered the online world through commenting at Glenn Greenwald’s blog in the Salon days and was involved in the briefly successful Chris Dodd move to block the bill to renew FISA. He then went on to blog at Firedoglake and served a brief stint as evening editor there. When the Emptywheel blog moved out of Firedoglake back to standalone status, Jim tagged along and blogged on anthrax, viruses, John Galt, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is now a mostly lapsed blogger looking for a work-around to the depressing realization that pointing out the details of government malfeasance and elite immunity has approximately zero effect.