Brian L. Mizer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Brian Mizer
Lt Cdr Brian Mizer.jpg
Captain Brian L. Mizer, USN
Service/branchUnited States Navy

Brian L. Mizer is a United States Navy JAG officer. He is from the State of Nebraska. He attended Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, for his undergraduate degree and Case Western Reserve University for his juris doctorate.[1]

He is notable for serving as one the chief defense counsel for Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver of Osama bin Laden, when he faced charges before a Guantánamo military commission.[2][3][4]

On 23 April 2008 attorneys working on behalf of Salim Ahmed Hamdan requested permission to meet with Abdulmalik Mohammed and Mustafa al-Hawsawi.[5] Hamdan's attorneys had previously requested permission to get the "high-value detainees" to answer written questions, which would confirm whether Hamdan played a role in al Qaeda, and, if so, if it had been a peripheral one. Abdulmalik Mohammed and Mustafa al-Hawsawi declined to answer the questions, because they said they had no way to know that the questions purporting to be from Hamdan's attorneys was not a ruse. Andrea J. Prasow requested permission for Lieutenant Commander Brian Mizer to meet in person with the two men to try to assure them that the questions were not a ruse, and would not be shared with their interrogators.

Hamdan was convicted in August 2008.[6][7][8] His Presiding Officer's decision that he should be credited with the time he had already served, left him with a scheduled release date of December 31, 2008—just over four months later. Chief Prosecutor Lawrence Morris filed an appeal, asserting that Presiding Officers didn't have the authority to credit time served. The Wall Street Journal quoted Mizer's response: "I really am at a loss for words. The government, having stacked the deck, is now complaining about the hand it was dealt."

In November 2008 The New Republic quoted Mizer explaining why the use of torture would complicate the prosecution of other suspects.[9]

  • "The coercive interrogation techniques that have been used, that in many cases have amounted to torture, is going to make prosecuting these defendants very difficult in any traditional court martial or federal court."
  • "the vast majority of detainees at Guantánamo Bay could not be prosecuted in state or federal court, or through military courts martial because they have not committed any crime that existed at the time it was committed."

Mizer told reporters that he was surprised to learn that Hamdan had been transferred to Yemen on 1 December 2008, calling it "welcome news".[10]

In the fall of 2008 chief prosecutor Colonel Morris Davis resigned after a conflict of authority with Brigadier General Thomas W. Hartmann.[11] Davis felt that Hartmann had inappropriately usurped his own role in designating which captives should face charges, when Hartmann's role as Legal Advisor to the Convening Authority for the Guantánamo Military Commissions required neutrality. Davis became a critic of the operation of the Military Commission system, and on December 8, 2008, The New York Times reported that Mizer planned to call upon Davis to testify on undue command influence in Hamdan's case.

In early January 2009 the Office of Military Commissions dismissed all charges against all the suspects, with plans to re-initiate those charges later.[12][13] Commentators described the state of the cases against the captives as "chaotic". According to Peter Finn, reporting in The Washington Post, Mizer greeted the news with disbelief, stating: "This is military justice 101."

When President Barack Obama ordered the closure of Guantánamo base on January 22, 2009 Mizer commented:[14]

There isn't going to be justice for anyone at Guantánamo, for the victims' families or the accused."

Media appearances[edit]

Mizer was one of the individuals who appeared in Laura Poitras 2010 documentary film The Oath.[15][16][17][18][19] A The New York Times review of the film described Mizer as a "compelling figure".[20]

...his American lawyers, particularly Lt. Cmdr. Brian Mizer, emerge as compelling figures, arguing with startling force against the legitimacy of the Bush administration’s military commissions and questioning the possibility of their client’s receiving a fair trial. Commander Mizer deserves a film of his own; in "The Oath" he’s a fascinating sidelight.

Mizer appeared in PBS interviews on multiple occasions.[21][22]


  1. ^ "Lt. Cmdr. Brian Mizer". Wings of Justice. 2008-04-03. Retrieved 2008-12-27. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brian Mizer is the Navy lawyer for Osama bin Laden's driver, Salim Hamdan. Lt. Cmdr. Mizer filed a brief in Hamdan's Guantánamo military commissions case, alleging that senior White House appointees to the Pentagon are orchestrating war crimes trials to help Republicans in the upcoming 2008 presidential campaign. Mizer argues that the blatant political interference makes it impossible for Hamdan to get a fair trial.
  2. ^ William Glaberson (2008-08-01). "Prosecution Rests, Then Terror Trial Enters Secret Session to Hear Defense Testimony". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-27.
  3. ^ Hina Shamsi (2007-12-11). "CIA coverups and American injustice". Salon magazine. Retrieved 2008-12-27.
  4. ^ Andy Worthington (2008-12-03). "The End of Guantánamo". Alternet. Retrieved 2008-12-27.
  5. ^ Andrea J. Prasow (2008-04-23). "U.S. v. Hamdan - Special Request for Relief - Supplement" (PDF). Office of the Chief Defense Counsel. Retrieved 2008-12-25. mirror
  6. ^ William Glaberson (2008-08-01). "Prosecution Rests, Then Terror Trial Enters Secret Session to Hear Defense Testimony". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-03. "It is my hope that the American public will someday hear Mr. Hamdan’s defense," said one of his lawyers, Lt. Cmdr. Brian L. Mizer. mirror
  7. ^ Jess Bravin (2008-10-17). "New Sentence Is Sought for Bin Laden's Driver". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2012-06-02. The Bush administration wants the military jury that sentenced Osama bin Laden's former driver to reconvene for new deliberations that could add five years to his scheduled release date of Dec. 31. mirror
  8. ^ Dan Slater (2008-10-17). "Why Does the Government Want Hamdan's Sentence Reconsidered?". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2012-06-02. The basis for reconsideration? The motion, reports Bravin, contends that the military judge lacked authority to credit Hamdan for the time he served in pretrial confinement. Without such credit, Hamdan, who was captured in November 2001, would face an extra five years. The chief Gitmo prosecutor, Col. Lawrence Morris, claims that, unlike courts-martial, military commissions cannot credit defendants for time served. mirror
  9. ^ Joseph Landau (2008-11-13). "Indefinite Detention Center: Why you shouldn't expect Guantánamo to close any time soon". The New Republic. Retrieved 2012-06-03. mirror
  10. ^ Abdul Rahim Al-Showthabi (2008-12-01). "Bin Laden's Former Driver Comes Back to Finish Sentence in Yemen". Yemen Post. Retrieved 2008-12-27.
  11. ^ William Glaberson (2008-12-08). "Former chief prosecutor at Guantánamo turns into critic of system". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-03. Hamdan's chief military lawyer, Lieutenant Commander Brian Mizer, said he would offer Davis to argue that charges against Hamdan should be dismissed because of improper influence by Pentagon officials over the commission process. Prosecutors may object, and it is unclear how military judges may rule. mirror
  12. ^ Peter Finn (2009-01-14). "Evidence in Terror Cases Said to Be in Chaos: Military Officials Reject Ex-Prosecutor's Charges". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-01-31. mirror
  13. ^ Laura Harrison McBride (2009-01-14). "Rounding up the toys at the George W. Bush Memorial Sandbox". Archived from the original on June 2, 2012. Retrieved 2009-01-31. mirror
  14. ^ Ben Fox, Mike Melia (2009-01-22). "Jubilation, uncertainty at Gitmo after Obama order". Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-01-31. mirror
  15. ^ "'The Oath' Streams Online, Director Laura Poitras Joins Live Chat with PBS NewsHour for 9/11 Anniversary". PBS. 2011-09-12. Retrieved 2012-05-29. Lt. Cmdr. Brian L. Mizer (Assistant Federal Public Defender in the Eastern District of Virginia): Lt. Cmdr. Brian L. Mizer served as Salim Hamdan’s lawyer at Guantánamo and is featured throughout the documentary The Oath.
  16. ^ "The Oath: Additional video". PBS. September 2010. Retrieved 2012-05-29. Salim's Work for Al Qaeda: U.S. military lawyer Brian Mizer talks about the case of Salim Hamdan, the former driver of Osama bin Laden.
  17. ^ "Salim's work for al-Qaeda". PBS. September 2010. Retrieved 2012-05-29. In this clip from The Oath, Brian Mizer, the U.S. military lawyer for terrorist suspect and Osama bin Laden's former driver, Salim Hamdan, talks about the U.S. government's case against Hamdan at a meeting for the families of Guantánamo prisoners in Yemen.
  18. ^ "The Oath: film description". PBS. September 2010. Retrieved 2012-05-29. Meanwhile, Hamdan’s trial before the military commission at Guantánamo unfolds. Hamdan’s U.S. military attorney, Lt. Commander Brian Mizer, is convinced of his innocence and also believes that the military commissions have "fundamental flaws" in fairness and legality. The prosecution’s case depends on the idea that a driver for bin Laden must have been a significant figure in Al Qaeda. The press, unconvinced, wonders why the government picked such a low-level figure for its first trial, and Hamdan himself writes, "I would like the law, I would like justice. Nothing else."
  19. ^ "Salim's Case Progresses". PBS. September 2010. Retrieved 2012-05-29. In this clip ... Hamdan's military lawyer, Brian Mizer, talks to the press about Hamdan's defense and his case.
  20. ^ Mike Hale (2010-05-06). "The Oath (2010): Two Paths From Al Qaeda in the Post-9/11 World". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-05-30.
  21. ^ David Brancaccio (2010-09-20). "Audio: A Conversation with David Brancaccio, Laura Poitras and Brian Mizer". PBS. Retrieved 2012-05-29. David Brancaccio Brancaccio: We're speaking with Laura Poitras, the director of The Oath. Laura, hang here just a second, because we're going to bring Brian Mizer on the line, and we'll come back to you in just a second. Brian Mizer, former military lawyer who represented Salim Hamdan, and now — Brian, are you, what, a public defender?
  22. ^ Hari Sreenivasan (2011-09-11). "Revisiting 9/11, The Oath, and Gitmo, Ten Years On Posted on September 9, 2011 by Brooke Shelby Biggs". Independent Lens. Retrieved 2012-05-29. Lt. Cmdr. Brian L. Mizer: Assistant Federal Public Defender in the Eastern District of Virginia Mizer served as Salim Hamdan’s lawyer at Guantánamo and is featured throughout the documentary The Oath.