Monday, May 7, 2012

Let the show trial begin

The long-awaited military trials of the alleged masterminds of the 9/11 hijackings commenced this weekend at Guantanamo. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other defendants sat in silent protest during the hearing - refusing even to enter pleas.

The five men are being tried before a military tribunal in order to get around those pesky little concepts like confrontation, discovery and the prohibition on torturing suspects.

Had Mr. Mohammed and his co-defendants been brought before a criminal court the prosecution would have lots of questions to answer about the treatment that the men received in prisons in other parts of the world at the hands of the United States. Had this case been brought before a criminal court, the defendants would have the right to request documents in the possession of the government that would be relevant to the defense.

The military prosecutors are tied into the ongoing torture of so-called enemy combatants. Their presence serves to justify the actions of the U.S. government. Their participation in the process also violates the oaths they took when they received their law licenses.

When you are sworn in as an attorney you take an oath the uphold the laws of the state in which you live, the laws of the United States and the Constitution. Included in the laws of the U.S. are international treaties - including the Geneva Convention's banning of torture. Included in the Constitution is the Eighth Amendment and its ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The U.S. obtained evidence it intends to use against Mr. Mohammed through the use of torture. Mr. Mohammed was tortured. His co-defendants were tortured. Most of the men detained by the government were tortured - either by American interrogators or by security forces in other countries at the behest of the U.S. government.

Military prosecutors will be using evidence obtained by illegal means. Military judges will allow evidence obtained by illegal means to be admitted into evidence.

Military prosecutors will withhold documents from defendants on the grounds that the release of the documents could be harmful to U.S. security. Military judges will look at the defendants and say they are sorry but the requests to review the documents must be denied.

The entire process will be a joke and an insult to the generations of people who have given their lives to defend the Constitution. Every military prosecutor and military judge who takes place in the proceedings should be disbarred from the practice of law.

But that would require some integrity and that's something that has been sadly lacking from the U.S. since this entire sorry episode in our history commenced.

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