Daphne Eviatar on the Military Commission Train Wreck

by Kevin Jon Heller

Train wreck, fiasco, disaster, dumpster fire, bad joke, kangaroo court, show trial — take your pick, the description applies. Eviatar’s post at Just Security a while back is a must-read; here is but one particularly disturbing snippet:

Recent pre-trial hearings have revealed, for example, that the Guantanamo courtroom was equipped with microphones able to eavesdrop on privileged attorney-client communications; that the CIA was secretly monitoring the hearings and, unbeknownst to the judge, had the ability to censor the audio feed heard by observers; and that the meeting rooms where defense lawyers met their clients had been secretly wired with video and audio monitors, hidden in devices made to look like smoke detectors. In addition, all legal mail is screened by government security personnel, and documents previously deemed acceptable were later confiscated from the defendants’ prison cells without explanation; those documents included a detainee’s own hand-written notes or a photograph of the grand mosque in Mecca.

Seventy years ago, the United States bent over backwards to provide high-ranking Nazis with fair trials. These days, a fair trial for someone as unimportant as bin Laden’s driver is nothing but a dream. How far the mighty have fallen.


4 Responses

  1. In fact, even in combination all those descriptions fall well short of encapsulating this schemozzle.

  2. So, the regnant ideological doctrine in theory if not praxis of this nation’s particular incarnation of post-welfare capitalist democracy can be described as a neo-liberal technocratic plutocracy suffused with a Constitution-transcending or constitutionally defiant legal ethos defined by an institutionally entrenched insecurity and paranoia that generates panoptical surveillance ambitions and totalizing information-gathering practices by both public agencies and private firms within the terms and constraints of a feverishly financialized turbo-capitalism on the one hand, and a colossal Orwellian National Security State on the other hand.

  3. There are many other reasons why the Obama Military Commissions are violative of international law. See http://ssrn.com/abstract=1997478   My article on the Bush Military Commissions was quoted in Hamdan, and several of the recognitions in Hamdan still apply.

  4. Been there and done that.
    2006 – http://jurist.org/forum/2006/09/all-laws-but-one-parsing-military.php
    2008- http://www.law.northwestern.edu/lawreview/colloquy/2008/32/LRColl2008n32Davis.pdf
    2013 – out in due course
    Davis, Benjamin, The 9/11 Military Commission Motion Hearings: An Ordinary Citizen Looks at Comparative Legitimacy (March 15, 2013). Southern Illinois University Law Review, Fall 2013; University of Toledo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-08. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2234101
    You can see where this was going to end up when you go back to the 2001-2002 structure put in place to torture and then try these people under looser rules with the PMO.  It was inevitable.
    Benjamin G. Davis, Keeping our Honor Clean: A Response to Professor Yoo, 4 Chinese J.Int’l. L. 745 (2005)
    No one in the political class – democrat or republican nor in the courts is willing to do something about this travesty.  The only glimmer is that the detainees are going to be able to talk about what happened to them in the black sites – one change on the protective order that is more about keeping wrongdoing hidden then about judicial process.

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