A Sham and a Shame to Our Nation

December 1, 2007 at 7:01 am | Posted in Gitmo, Law, Torture | 1 Comment

So one trial of a Guantanamo Bay Camp X-ray detainee is about to go forward. But look at what a sham it is, and in the end, a shame to our nation and to the rule of law. Tyranny now rules here.

Defense lawyers preparing for the war crimes trial of a 21-year-old Guantánamo detainee have been ordered by a military judge not to tell their client — or anyone else — the identity of witnesses against him, newly released documents show.

The case of the detainee, Omar Ahmed Khadr, is being closely watched because it may be the first Guantánamo prosecution to go to trial, perhaps as soon as May.

Defense lawyers say military prosecutors have sought similar orders to keep the names of witnesses secret in other military commission cases, which have been a centerpiece of the Bush administration’s policies for detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Some legal experts and defense lawyers said the judge’s order, issued on Oct. 15 without public disclosure, underscored the gap between military commission procedures and traditional American rules that the accused has a right to a public trial and to confront the witnesses against him.

Defense lawyers say the order would hamper their ability to build an adequate defense because they cannot ask their client or anyone else about prosecution witnesses, making it difficult to test the veracity of testimony.

One of the centerpieces of the rule of law is the right to confront the witness against you, to challenge the witness. After all, if the witness is lying, then the whole case against you is false. How can we possibly believe that this, and other like cases, can be trusted to protect the innocent? Or do some Americans really believe that NO ONE in Guantanamo is innocent? If that is the case, why do we even have them there? Why not just execute them and stop pretending?


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  1. One thing to be careful of here is how this is framed. The times and/or whoever they’re paraphrasing here refers to the difference betweeen military commissions and “traditional American rules”. You start getting into a debate on that basis and instantly the defenders of this rubbish will minimize what’s going on as merely different than the way things run in a US court. Instead of what it really is – the denial of the most basic necessary element of any remotely fair trial: the ability to defend ones’ self with facts. Without that basic building block, these are not trials or anything remotely judicial or even court martial-related, they are a sham plain and simple. Not that I would expect anything less of the Bush Administration.

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