Thursday, September 02, 2004

The Hon. J. Fred Muggs, Presiding 

Everything's funny when monkeys do it! Via Digby, here's an L.A. Times review of the uproarious burlesque of due process now being enacted by a troupe of adorable circus chimps in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba:
The Bush administration is ignoring, if not defying outright, the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that all terror suspects must be able to challenge their imprisonment. The opening round of detainee military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay last week resembled something between a Mel Brooks farce and the kangaroo courts of former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. Maybe Captain Kangaroo courts. The proceedings didn't look anything like justice, military or otherwise. Meanwhile, two U.S. citizens still sit in military brigs, isolated from their lawyers and months if not years away from the hearings the high court says they deserve . . . .

The cards are stacked against detainees in other ways too. Government prosecutors got spacious quarters and their own staff to prepare for the hearings. Military defense lawyers were crowded into one room. Midway through the week, the conference table they all shared was removed. The Arab interpreters were so incompetent that the proceedings resembled a game of "telephone," in which the message veered closer to gibberish with each repetition. Yet this game is about men's futures.

Given the confusion, officials must feel justified in limiting reporters to pen and paper, which might as well be quill and parchment. No photographic, video or audio recordings of the hearings will ever be released. From the government's perspective, perhaps the less that Americans know of these bumbling proceedings, the less they'll care.

The two U.S. citizens that Bush has labeled as enemy combatants, Yaser Hamdi and Jose Padilla, haven't gotten even this much. Years after their arrests, each remains in a military brig, often in solitary confinement. Even after the Supreme Court's declaration that they have a right to a hearing, government lawyers outrageously are fighting every lower court petition filed by lawyers retained by the men's families. And still the government has filed no charges against Hamdi or Padilla.

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