Friday, June 30, 2006

Court says Guantanmo illegal, Bush says "is not"

While it's nice to see people actually do have the right to a fair trial when they are held on soil, the Bush administration and its supporters in congress still seem to believe that it's in the nation's interests to conduct trials under the following circumstances:

  • accused not allowed to see all evidence against him
  • accused not allowed to call witnesses in his defence
  • prosecution may remove accused from trial to show "classified" information to the judge
  • Appeals?

This translates to "we know you're guilty, but we won't tell you why." Why does the "Land of the Free" see this as an effective means to showcase its moral superiority? Even in its own courts, the administration seems to want convictions when it witholds evidence.

That's nice, it's easy to criticize, you say, but how would you allow evidence gathered using classified means in a credible court room or proceeding?

One method that civilized legal systems have used in the past are classified briefs. A summary containing non-classified information can be given, and the judge may review the whole contents. This at least gives the defence some idea what they're up against. There is a difference in the open validity of a judgement when the verdict is based on "something classified, we can't tell you what" or when based on "the unclassified summary states we heard you plan attacks in intercepted phone calls (audio provided), radio transmissions in-theater, and here are the emails you sent." Very little here would give away the means (the secret sauce) of gathering such intelligence.

The point with this is that the defendant would know that the prosecution has him on tape several times, in writing in contact with known terrorists, and picked him up in-theater before sending him to Guantanamo. He could then make the informed choice to plead guilty, plea bargain, or deliver evidence to the contrary that his voice was misidentified and email account hacked.

In the end, something will happen to these people. They have every reason to hate the USA now, even if they may not have before, so maybe that makes them guilty now. Giving them as fair as possible a hearing may make it harder to maintain that anger.


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