Gitmo's Kangaroo Court: First Torture Them, Then Rig Their Trials

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The
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) obtained two leaked emails
from former military prosecutors at Guantanamo Bay over the weekend
of July 30. The emails both claim that the military committees set
up to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba are "rigged,
fraudulent, and thin on evidence against the accused."

In
the first email obtained by the Australian news organization, Gitmo
prosecutor, Major Robert Preston, wrote to his supervisor that the
trial process at Guantanamo was perpetrating a fraud on the American
public. Preston also wrote that the cases being tried were insignificant
at best.

"I
consider the insistence on pressing ahead with cases that would
be marginal even if properly prepared to be a severe threat to the
reputation of the military justice system and even a fraud on the
American people," Preston wrote. "Surely they don't expect
that this fairly half-assed effort is all that we have been able
to put together after all this time … I lie awake worrying about
this every night," he wrote.

"I
find it almost impossible to focus on my part of mission … After
all, writing a motion saying that the process will be full and fair
when you don't really believe it is kind of hard, particularly when
you want to call yourself an officer and lawyer."

Shortly
after Preston sent these emails to his superior he was transferred
from his post.

In
the second email obtained by the ABC, Captain John Carr, who also
left his position after his email claimed that the commissions at
the prison appeared to be rigged, wrote, "When I volunteered
to assist with this process and was assigned to this office, I expected
there would at least be a minimal effort to establish a fair process
and diligently prepare cases against significant accused. Instead,
I find a half-hearted and disorganized effort by a skeleton group
of relatively inexperienced attorneys to prosecute fairly low-level
accused in a process that appears to be rigged."

Carr
also wrote that Gitmo prosecutors were continually told by the chief
prosecutor that the panel set up to try detainees was specially
selected in order to guarantee convictions.

"You
have repeatedly said to the office that the military panel will
be handpicked and will not acquit these detainees and that we only
needed to worry about building a record for the review panel,"
Carr wrote.

I'm
sure most that are already skeptical of the Bush's administration's
motives in Iraq are not the least bit surprised by these two former
military prosecutors allegations. As we already know, justice isn't
being dished out at Gitmo. It's being choked out. The actions of
the US military in Guantanamo's court are in defiance of the Supreme
Court's order in the Hamdi v Rumsfeld case in which Justice O'Connor,
writing the majority opinion, argued that Guantanamo detainees must
be given "a meaningful opportunity to contest the factual basis
for that detention before a neutral decision maker."

Alas,
fairness isn't the issue here. As the aforementioned case guaranteed,
despite the detainees "meaningful opportunity to contest"
their detentions, they are still not allowed any meaningful legal
retaliatory rights.

Writing
for CounterPunch on June 29 of 2003, Elaine Cassel explained, "On
this one (the Hamdi case), a 6-3 majority ruled that those poor
guys in Guantanamo, those men that have been there for going on
three years and, we now presume, subject to all kinds of physical
torture and mental and sexual abuse, can file a petition for writ
of habeas corpus challenging their detention, but, so what? The
court was silent on what trial courts will do with the petitions.
Presumably, let them file their papers then promptly toss them out."

So
there you have it: first the trials at Gitmo are rigged, then the
unjustly convicted are not allowed to challenge their incarcerations.
All ethical considerations aside – what we have here is a Constitutional
crisis of epic proportions.

September
15, 2005

Joshua
Frank [send him mail]
is the author of Left
Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush
, just published
by Common Courage Press. To learn more, or to contact Frank, visit
www.BrickBurner.org.

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