Thursday, February 14, 2013

Where there's smoke, there's a microphone

The fix was in from the beginning. You know it. I know it. We all know it but the government is deadset on proceeding with a show trial in the best traditions of the Soviet Union and China.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and the other accused ringleaders of the 9/11 attacks don't stand a chance. The deck is stacked against them. Military tribunal. Evidence of torture is inadmissible (what a delightful irony). Defense attorneys forced to sign agreements not to disclose certain information. They might as well have signed an agreement to defend their clients with one arm tied behind their backs and a gag in their mouths.

We've already heard that a government agency is listening to the court proceedings and hitting the silence button whenever someone brings up something embarrassing that the government insists is confidential. But even that is not enough.

The latest allegations have to do with smoke detectors in the huts where attorneys visited with their clients that weren't really smoke detectors. They were listening devices.

The government has assured the court that these devices weren't being used to eavesdrop on attorney-client conversations in the huts. And, well, if the government says they didn't do anything wrong, who are we to disbelieve them?

And then there's that little matter involving the opening of legal mail coming into Guantanamo. Back in 2011, because there was some alleged contraband coming into the base, government officers opened all mail delivered to the detainees - including mail from their lawyers. Once again, government officials insist that the mail was just opened to make sure there was no contraband present and that no one ever looked at the contents of the letters. Now doesn't that just make you feel so much better?

These trials should have been conducted in public courtrooms in the United States. The government should have been held to its burden of proof and not have been allowed to hide behind the curtain of "classified information." Any information obtained through the use of torture should have been deemed inadmissible. Admissions that the huts in which defendants met with their attorneys and admissions that legal mail was opened should have led a judge to dismiss the prosecutions.

While these men may be viewed as the ultimate embodiment of evil by some, they still deserve a fair trial. In fact, they deserve a "fairer" trial because of how unpopular they are. You see, it's really easy for folks to turn a blind eye to the excesses of the government when the defendant is unpopular or accused of a truly heinous act. And once we have agreed that he is not as deserving of a fair trial as someone else, it becomes easier for the government to do the same to someone else.

See also:

"The (show) trial of the century," The Defense Rests (12/14/2012)

"Judge, jury and executioner," The Defense Rests (8/8/2012)

"Let the show trial begin," The Defense Rests (5/7/2012)

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