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Will Some One Hire the Morally Handicapped?

Ruth's picture

The military tribunals supposedly handling the detainees at Guantanamo seem to be melting down along with the pretense that habeas corpus can be ignored in a legal proceeding. The evidence needed for the prosecutors to work with is being withheld.

When an attorney is being told to prepare his case by the same bunch that's refusing to give him the material he needs to do it, eventually something gives. Hopefully, the criminals in the White House will have to allow the Rule of Law to be returned.

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

His affidavit, submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court and released Friday, is the first reported criticism by a member of the military panels that determine whether detainees, most suspected of al-Qaeda and Taliban ties, will continue to be held.

The revelations came as the Bush administration acknowledged Friday that its top officials are once again debating recommendations about how and when to close the detention facilities at Guantánamo.

Officials said it could be weeks or months before a decision is made. The administration has come under increasing pressure from human rights groups and foreign governments to close the base. A central recommendation, but not the only possibility, would be to move the terror suspects from Guantánamo to military prisons in the United States, the officials said. The U.S. also is helping expand a prison in Afghanistan to take some Guantánamo detainees.

The Combatant Status Review Tribunals at the base in Cuba began in 2004, after the Supreme Court ruled that the detainees had a right to hearings. If one of the three-officer tribunal panels rules that a detainee is an "enemy combatant," he may be held indefinitely.

Few detainees have been formally charged with a crime, so the CSRT hearings represent the only chance for the vast majority to argue that they are not enemies of the United States. The military held CSRTs for 558 detainees at Guantánamo Bay in 2004 and 2005.

Detainees had military "personal representatives" instead of defense attorneys, and all but 38 were determined to be "enemy combatants."

In the affidavit unsealed Friday, 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.

There seems to be an increasing reluctance to continue allying themselves with the disgrace this executive branch has been. That legacy looms closer all the time, and it looks like a really nasty blotch on the national escutcheon for all of us. For those whose resume will soon be out there looking for employment, it has to be a pretty shabby work history to be peddling. I, for one, hope that the Heritage Foundations and the Pepperdine Universities (Inc.) will discover that their lack of credibility makes all the president's men undesirables.

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