Rules for Lawyers Of Detainees Are Called Onerous

The cadre of civilian lawyers representing terrorism suspects held by the military at Guantanamo Bay are not allowed to meet their clients in private, without video surveillance. All their mail and notes must be turned over to the military. Classified information cannot be shared with their clients. They are not entitled to everything the government knows about their clients.

Months before the trials of some of the detainees are set to begin, some of the attorneys say the Defense Department‘s regulations for their work are so onerous that they will be unable to provide a fair and adequate defense of their clients.

“How can I defend him if he is not allowed to see or hear classified information?” asked Brent Mickum, the Washington attorney representing alleged al-Qaeda operative Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, commonly known as Abu Zubaida. “He can’t play a meaningful role in his own defense.”

Read more

Bush wants limits on access to evidence

The Bush administration asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to limit judges’ authority to scrutinize evidence against detainees at Guantanamo Bay.The administration said the court could still add the issue to its calendar this year and hear arguments in a rare May session, then render a decision by late June.

The case is linked to another dispute already at the high court in which detainees are asking the justices to rule that they can use the U.S. civilian courts to challenge their indefinite imprisonment.

Another option for the court is to take no action on the new case until it decides on the extent of the detainees’ legal rights.

In the new case, the administration is asking the court to undo a federal appeals court ruling that broadens its authority to look at evidence about whether detainees have been properly characterized as enemy combatants.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit initially ruled on the case in July. The full court refused in early February, in a 5-5 split, to reconsider that ruling. It takes a majority of the court to reconsider a panel decision.

The ruling held that, when Guantanamo Bay detainees challenge their status as “enemy combatants,” judges must review all the evidence, not just the evidence the military chooses.

The administration said the decision jeopardizes national security.

Read more

Executions May Be Carried Out at Gitmo

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — If six suspected terrorists are sentenced to death at Guantanamo Bay for the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. Army regulations that were quietly amended two years ago open the possibility of execution by lethal injection at the military base in Cuba, experts said Tuesday.

Any executions would probably add to international outrage over Guantanamo, since capital punishment is banned in 130 countries, including the 27-nation European Union.

Conducting the executions on U.S. soil could open the way for the detainees’ lawyers to go to U.S. courts to fight the death sentences. But the updated regulations make it possible for the executions to be carried out at Guantanamo.

David Sheldon, an attorney and former member of the Navy’s legal corps, said an execution chamber at Guantanamo would be largely beyond the reach of U.S. courts.

“I think that’s the administration’s idea, to try to use Guantanamo as a base to not be under the umbrella of the federal district courts,” he said. “If one is detained in North Carolina or South Carolina in a Navy brig, one could conceivably file a petition of habeas corpus and because of where they’re located, invoke the jurisdiction of a federal court.”

The condemned men could even be buried at Guantanamo. A Muslim section of the cemetery at Guantanamo has been dedicated by an Islamic cultural adviser, said Bruce Lloyd, spokesman for the Guantanamo Naval Station. Among those buried elsewhere at the cemetery are U.S. servicemen.

Read more

Is this Justice? US accused of using ‘Kangaroo Court’ to try Men accused of Role in September 11 Attacks

Picture is not part of the original article but added by travellerev. Sometimes a pictures tells more than a thousand words.

by Andrew Gumbel

Global Research, February 12, 2008

The United States military announced yesterday that it was bringing death penalty charges against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and five other men suspected of orchestrating the September 11 attacks, and intended to try them under the Bush administration’s much-criticised military tribunal system, which is subject only to partial oversight by the civilian appeals system.

The decision to use Mohammed and the others as guinea-pigs in a constitutionally dubious legal proceeding is likely to trigger a firestorm of anti-American sentiment in the Islamic world and spark a fractious domestic debate in an already highly charged presidential election year.

Concerns were raised last night of political interference by the White House in the military’s decision to go to trial in the middle of an election campaign in which the Republican frontrunner, John McCain, has made the fight against al-Qa’ida central to his election bid.

“What we are looking at is a series of show trials by the Bush administration that are really devoid of any due process considerations,” said Vincent Warren, the executive director head of Centre for Constitutional Rights, which represents many Guantanamo detainees. “Rather than playing politics the Bush administration should be seeking speedy and fair trials,” he said. “These are trials that are going to be based on torture as confessions as well as secret evidence. There is no way that this can be said to be fair especially as the death penalty could be an outcome.”

While few doubts have been raised, domestically or internationally, about the men’s involvement in the attacks on New York and Washington, just about everything else about their treatment has been bitterly contested and is likely to continue to be contested, inside the courtroom and out. Everything is laden with potential controversy – the decision to try the six men together rather than individually, the proposed venue at Guantanamo Bay, where all six are being held, the threatened use of the death penalty, and perhaps the most controversial question of all: the admissibility of evidence gathered through waterboarding and other coercive techniques generally defined as torture.

Even Brig-Gen Thomas Hartmann, the Pentagon official co-ordinating the case, acknowledged yesterday that it could be several months before a trial begins and months more, if not years, before any death penalty – assuming it is enforced – is carried out.

Read more