Friday, January 19, 2007

A Beacon of Justice?

This is going from the ridiculous to the absurd. Why are we even bothering to have trials at all? If we're going to just pretend to justice why don't we just stop pretending that we haven't become a banana republic? What would be the difference if we just lined these guys up against a wall and shot them? This is an absolute disgrace. The American people are better than this and should not stand for this from the country that is supposed to be a beacon of justice for the rest of the world.

If you have to rely on hearsay and coerced evidence in order to get a conviction, then maybe, just maybe you don't actually have a case at all? What this tells me is that the Administration doesn't, in fact, have strong or even reasonable cases against the majority of the Guantanamo Bay detainees. We else would it have to rely on phony evidence in order pretend to convict. You don't think they are trying to avoid embarrassment do you?

The Pentagon set rules Thursday for detainee trials that could allow terror suspects to be convicted and perhaps executed using hearsay testimony and coerced statements, setting up a new clash between President Bush and Congress.

The rules are fair, said the Pentagon, which released them in a manual for the expected trials. Democrats controlling Congress said they would hold hearings and revive legislation on the plan, and human rights organizations complained that the regulations would allow evidence that would not be tolerated in civilian or military courtrooms.

According to the 238-page manual, a detainee's lawyer could not reveal classified evidence in the person's defense until the government had a chance to review it. Suspects would be allowed to view summaries of classified evidence, not the material itself.

The new regulations lack some protections used in civilian and military courtrooms, such as against coerced or hearsay evidence. They are intended to track a law passed last fall by Congress restoring Bush's plans to have special military commissions try terror-war prisoners. Those commissions had been struck down earlier in the year by the Supreme Court.

At a Pentagon briefing, Dan Dell'Orto, deputy to the Defense Department's top counsel, said the new rules will "afford all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized people."

In an interview, Brig. Gen. Thomas Hemingway, legal adviser to the Pentagon's office on commissions, said he doubted that most cases would rely solely on coercive or hearsay evidence.

"These case are pretty complex and it's not going to sink or swim, I don't believe, on a single statement," he said.

Rep. Ike Skelton (news, bio, voting record), D-Mo., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he planned to scrutinize the manual to ensure that it does not "run afoul" of the Constitution.

"No civilized nation permits convictions to rest on coerced evidence, and reliance on such evidence has never been acceptable in military or civilian courts in this country," said Elisa Massimino, Washington director of Human Rights First.

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