Saturday, June 23, 2007

Gitmo Justice

It appears from this AP report that the Bush administration has developed a system of justice for Guantanamo Bay detainees that closely parallels its theory of preemptive war.

An Army officer who played a key role in the "enemy combatant" hearings at Guantanamo Bay says tribunal members relied on vague and incomplete intelligence while being pressured to rule against detainees, often without any specific evidence.

His affidavit, submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court and released Friday, is the first criticism by a member of the military panels that determine whether detainees will continue to be held.

Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham, a 26-year veteran of military intelligence who is an Army reserve officer and a California lawyer, said military prosecutors were provided with only "generic" material that didn't hold up to the most basic legal challenges.

Despite repeated requests, intelligence agencies arbitrarily refused to provide specific information that could have helped either side in the tribunals, according to Abraham, who said he served as a main liaison between the Combat Status Review Tribunals and the intelligence agencies.

"What were purported to be specific statements of fact lacked even the most fundamental earmarks of objectively credible evidence," Abraham said in the affidavit submitted on behalf of a Kuwaiti detainee, Fawzi al-Odah, who is challenging his classification as an "enemy combatant."
[Emphasis added]

And wasn't that the whole point? This government isn't interested in fair trials for those it has held for years. The trials are only being held because the US Supreme Court has implied that 'disappearing' people just isn't a very nice thing to do. So the dog-and-pony show framework was developed.

Mr. Abraham's revelations bring to mind the late Ed Davis who, when he was Chief of the LAPD many years ago, suggested a way to end airplane highjackings was to immediately hold the trial of the accused and hang him right there on the runway. Chief Davis never got the chance to try out his new system, but President Bush unfortunately is getting that chance several dozen times over.

The question now is whether the Supreme Court as it is presently constituted is going to allow Mr. Bush to continue that parody of justice.

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