Military Tribunals

Thanks to Torture Scandal, Busheviks Will Get Their Butts Kicked By Supreme Court in 'Enemy Combatant' Cases
Military Tribunals

Newsweek reports, "The reassessments of Padilla come amid a growing sense of gloom within Justice that the Supreme Court is likely to rule decisively against the Bush administration not just in the Padilla case but in two other pivotal cases in the war on terror: one involving the detention of another 'enemy combatant,' Yasir Hamdi, and another involving the treatment of Al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In the Padilla and Hamdi cases, the administration is arguing it has the right to hold the two U.S. citizens indefinitely without trial. In the Guantanamo case, the administration argues that foreign nationals being interrogated there do not have the right to challenge their detention in federal courts. Lawyers within the Justice Department are now bracing for defeat in both the enemy-combatant and Guantanamo cases... 'They are 99% certain they are going to lose,' said the lawyer, who asked not to be identified. 'It's a very sobering realization.'"

BushFeld Charges 2 as Bin Laden Aides -- Will Appear before Military Tribunals
Military Tribunals

WashPost reports: "The U.S. government yesterday charged two alleged bodyguards for Osama bin Laden now detained at the Guantanamo Bay military prison with conspiracy to commit war crimes, launching the first criminal prosecution of enemy prisoners since the aftermath of World War II. The charges would make Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi of Sudan and Ali Hamza Ahmed Sulayman al Bahlul of Yemen the first detainees to stand trial before the special military tribunals established by President Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks... William F. Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA, denounced that part of the rules yesterday, saying the tribunals 'will be ruled over by a small group in the executive branch at every stage, thereby eradicating the independence vital for fair trials.'"

Military Practices a Mock Tribunal
Military Tribunals

The Moonie Times: "The U.S. military has held a dress rehearsal of planned tribunals for al Qaeda and Taliban combatants, complete with a defendant who acted up and had to be restrained and ejected. The mock trial was conducted in early November at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba... A building near the detention center has been converted into a courthouse for the expected trials... To date, President Bush has selected six of the 660 detainees as eligible for trial by military commissions, which are also called tribunals. The Pentagon has not released the names or nationalities of any detainee, including the chosen six. However, Britain has said that two of the men are British citizens; Australia has said one is an Australian citizen... An 'appointing authority' -- at this point it is Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz --- will approve any charges and appoint three to seven commission members for the trial, including a presiding officer."

Unfair and Unjust Verdict is 'Justice' Bush-Style
Military Tribunals

Gulf News reports: "In February 2002, [Moazzam] Begg was grabbed by the CIA, locked in the boot of a car and driven back to Afghanistan where he was kept in a dark cellar at the Bagram airbase, deprived of access to British consular officials. One year later, the 35-year-old was flown to Camp Delta in Cuba to join more than 670 others being held without charge and without the protection of the Geneva Conventions, including eight of his compatriots. Begg is included in a group of six alleged terrorists who will shortly be subjected to a secret U.S. military tribunal. His family say he is a victim of mistaken identity. He may well be - but then again he could be a terrorist mastermind. The point is we have been given little opportunity to find out. The U.S. is operating without transparency and has used ways of making its detainees talk which have been criticised by human rights groups."

EU Against Death Penalty for U.S. Terror Suspects
Military Tribunals

From Reuters: "European Commission urged the United States on Friday to avoid applying the death penalty to six foreign captives designated by Bush to be tried before U.S. military commissions. The 15-nation bloc is a fierce opponent of capital punishment and the EU's executive Commission said use of the death penalty could undermine international support for the so-called U.S.-led war on terrorism. 'The death sentence cannot be applied by military courts as this would make the international coalition lose the integrity and credibility it has so far enjoyed,' said Commission spokesman Diego de Ojeda, recalling comments by External Relations chief Chris Patten."

Two Britons and Four Others Face the Death Penalty under Military Tribunals
Military Tribunals

The UK Independent reports: "Two Britons held at Guantanamo Bay face a possible death penalty after being named among the first group of prisoners likely to be tried before secretive US military tribunals. Feroz Abbasi, 23, and Moazzam Begg, 35, are accused of links to al-Qa'ida and are among six suspects identified by the Bush Administration to face military justice. A decision on charges will be decided later but yesterday's move was condemned by families, lawyers and pressure groups as an attempt by the US Administration to undermine international law. The men have already been denied the right to a normal trial after US authorities designated them 'unlawful combatants', to the fury of human rights groups."

Wolfowitz To Be Responsible for Tribunals
Military Tribunals

The Moonie Times reports: "Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has delegated his role as 'appointing authority' for military commissions to his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz. CNN reported Rumsfeld signed the order last weekend, giving Wolfowitz authority over the tribunals that will try al Qaeda and Taliban suspects. President [sic] Bush issued an order in November 2001, allowing military tribunals to be used to try non-citizens accused of terrorist acts. People brought before the tribunals have no right to a jury trial, no right to confront accusers, and no right to appeal trial procedures or sentences, which could include death... After the chief military prosecutor drafts charges against a detainee, Wolfowitz will have the authority to approve those charges and send the detainee to trial. He will select military officers to sit on commissions and, if the commissions cannot resolve procedures, motions or facts, Wolfowitz will make the final decision."

Judge Demands to Know if Bushfeld Could Sit Hamdi 'In Boiling Oil'
Military Tribunals

"Line by line, a federal judge today dissected the government's reasoning for holding Yaser Esam Hamdi incommunicado in a Navy brig here and indicated that he didn't think prosecutors provided enough facts for him to decide whether Hamdi should have access to a lawyer. U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar... sparred repeatedly with the government's lawyer over why Hamdi was an enemy combatant and what exactly that meant, saying the government appeared to be trying to place unprecedented restrictions on a prisoner's rights. 'I tried valiantly to find a case of any kind, in any court, where a lawyer couldn't meet' with a client, Doumar said. 'This case sets the most interesting precedent in relation to that which has ever existed in Anglo-American jurisprudence since the days of the Star Chamber,' a reference to English kings' secret court from the 1400s to the 1600s... 'If the military sat him in boiling oil, would that be lawful?'" For Bushcroft? Of course it would!

Ashcroft Uses Catch-22 to Imprison US Citizen without Charges or Counsel
Military Tribunals

"In the government's latest response to efforts by some to gain access to Yaser Esam Hamdi... who is being held incommunicado in a Naval brig, Justice seems to be refining and hardening their position... The filing repeats the basic argument that Hamdi is lawfully detained as an enemy combatant; that it is well-settled that the military has such authority. And that authority is not diminished by a claim of US citizenship made by the detainee. [Ashcroft says] Hamdi's detention is lawful even though he has not been charged with any criminal offense; and [Catch-22 here] because he has not been charged with any offense, he is not entitled to counsel.' [P]risoners of war who do not face such charges are not entitled to counsel, or access to counsel, simply to challenge the fact of their wartime detention.' [Ashcroft said]: 'I don't believe it's in the national interest of the US to provide military lawyers from our army to confer with enemy combatants who have been detained as prisoners.'"

Why Jose Padilla's Plight Matters
Military Tribunals

Former police detective and school teacher M. W. Guzy writes: "The troubling matter of 'dirty bomb suspect' Jose Padilla. A small-time criminal who underwent a jailhouse conversion to Islam and changed his name to Abdullah Al Muhajir, he was arrested upon return from South Asia, where he allegedly plotted to build a radioactive weapon… Padilla, on the other hand, was born in Brooklyn, raised in Chicago and arrested by civilian authorities at O'Hare Airport. As we're all equal before the law, his legal status is the same as any other citizen's. If he can be forever detained by executive order without so much as a hearing before an independent magistrate, so can anybody else. When your liberty is insured solely by the goodwill and competence of those in charge, you live in a police state."

Conyers-Kucinich Bill Challenges Bush on Unconstitutional Military Tribunals
Military Tribunals

John Conyers (D-MI), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), chair of the House Progressive Caucus, have introduced the "Military Tribunal Authorization Act of 2002" to bring Bush's unconstitutional military tribunals within the framework of the Constitution. "Most seriously, the regulations would still severely limit judicial review. For example, if convicted, a defendant could not go to a regular appeals court or the Supreme Court, the defendant would be forced to go to a special review panel of three judges, one of whom is a military judge... [In addition,] non-citizens in the United States could be tried before a military tribunal. Nor have we heard that the regulations are in any way limited to terrorism or the events of September 11... The regulations will continue to permit detention of suspects in secret without public scrutiny or monitoring. And would continue to permit indefinitely detaining suspects without access to the judicial system."

ABA Recommends Limits on Military Tribunals
Military Tribunals

"The nation's largest lawyers' group defied the Bush administration yesterday, recommending that Congress have a say in establishing any military tribunals used to try terrorism suspects and that defendants be given extensive legal protections. Military tribunals should guarantee that defendants are presumed innocent and must be proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the American Bar Association declared. A death sentence should require a unanimous verdict. The vote on the floor of the ABA's policy-making legislature was 286-147 in favor of attaching those and other conditions to the use of tribunals. The vote means the ABA, though not contesting President [sic[ Bush's power to use tribunals, insists that special terrorism courts be used only in limited circumstances, and under established legal and constitutional rules…With yesterday's vote, the ABA recommends that tribunals follow the settled rules for military courts-martial, including the right to appeal to the Supreme Court."

Bush Military Tribunals Violate International Law, Including The Geneva Convention
Military Tribunals

"Going beyond claims that the military tribunals authorized by President Bush would violate civil liberties guaranteed by American law, some experts are beginning to argue that they would breach international law guaranteeing fair treatment of prisoners of war. Critics of the administration say Bush's order authorizing the tribunals conflicts with treaties like the Geneva Conventions, which give P.O.W.'s facing charges of egregious conduct protections that include the right to choose their own lawyers, to be tried in courts that are independent of the prosecution and to appeal convictions. None of those rights are assured in the president's order, which opponents say precludes at least two of them. The critics, among them legal experts with military backgrounds, say the tribunals could create risks for the armed forces, including the possibility of charges by other countries that American officers who conduct tribunals are guilty of war crimes."