Friday, June 11, 2004

Detainees Get Their Day in Court. Kangaroo Court 

God knows how many people have spent the last two years imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay with no trial, no charges, no right to counsel, no Constitutional protections whatsoever. However, in an act of unparallelled generosity, President Inherent Right to Set Aside the Law has decreed that six lucky detainees are entitled to trial by military tribunal; of the six, three have actually been charged with crimes, and four have been assigned military defense lawyers.

We do not envy any lawyer charged with the task of defending a detainee. The top brass at Gitmo are not generally noted for their close attention to legal rights -- but boy oh boy, they are all over the legal rights of anyone who might rat them out on the stand:
Military and civilian employees at the U.S. prison for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were warned recently not to talk with attorneys who represent detainees held there, according to a document prepared by the legal office of the Army-led task force that runs the facility.

The document, obtained by USA TODAY, says that soldiers and interrogators are not required to give defense attorneys statements about the "personal treatment of detainees" or any "failure to report actions of others." It also says that refusing to cooperate with defense attorneys "will not impact your career."

The warning -— titled "Interaction with Defense Counsel" —- has surfaced at a time when the treatment of the nearly 600 detainees at Guantanamo is under scrutiny because of the abuse and sexual humiliation of Iraqis in U.S. custody at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, former commander at Guantanamo, went to Iraq last year to share interrogation techniques used in Cuba.

A Defense Department spokesman said the document was aimed at ensuring that Guantanamo employees "know what their rights are." The spokesman said the references to detainee treatment are "relevant examples that make such training better."

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