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Monday, August 01, 2005

Guantanamo Trials "Rigged?"

JB

The Australian Broadcasting Company is reporting that two former prosecutors for the Bush Administration's military tribunals have complained to their superiors in e-mails that the procedings are "rigged" and "a fraud on the American people." The transcript from the ABC radio broadcast, which contains the contents of the leaked e-mails, is here.

What's particularly interesting is that these are statements from prosecutors, not from military defense counsel.

The first e-mail came from Major Robert Preston, who complained that the procedures were "half-assed." Preston was transferred out of his assignment a month later. The second e-mail came from Captain John Carr, who also left the Office of Military Commissions:

Capt Carr says the commissions appear to be rigged.

"When I volunteered to assist with this process and was assigned to this office, I expected there would at least be a minimal effort to establish a fair process and diligently prepare cases against significant accused," he wrote.

"Instead, I find a half-hearted and disorganised effort by a skeleton group of relatively inexperienced attorneys to prosecute fairly low-level accused in a process that appears to be rigged."

Capt Carr says that the prosecutors have been told by the chief prosecutor that the panel sitting in judgment on the cases would be handpicked to ensure convictions.

"You have repeatedly said to the office that the military panel will be handpicked and will not acquit these detainees and that we only needed to worry about building a record for the review panel," he said.


UPDATE: Neil Lewis covers the story for the International Herald Tribune (A slightly different version now appears on the New York Times website:
The defense lawyers' complaints and those of outside groups like the American Bar Association were, it is now clear, being echoed in confidential messages by the prosecutors who would, if anything, benefit from any slanting of the process.

Among the striking statements in the prosecutors' messages was an assertion by one that the chief prosecutor had told his subordinates that the members of the military commission that would try the first four defendants would be "handpicked" to ensure that all would be convicted.

The same officer, Captain John Carr, also said in his message that he had been told that any exculpatory evidence - information that could help the detainees mount a defense in their cases - would probably exist only in the 10 percent of documents being withheld by the CIA for security reasons.

Carr's e-mail message also said that some evidence that at least one of the four defendants had been brutalized was lost and other evidence on the same issue had been suppressed.


Comments:

The article is actually worth reading. I note the predetermination claim is rejected utterly. As to the concerns of the prosecutors regarding the adequacy of administrative support potentially impacting on a fair trial, this is cause for hope. It seems American lawyers whether they are prosecution or defence appear to want a reasonably robust processes and as fairer trial as is possible in the circumstances. The rule of law is as much about a ‘culture’ or way of thinking as it is about formal rules, statutes or constitutions. Isn’t that a good thing.
 

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Yahoo News - Oct. 13, 2005


Yahoo Japan steps up mobile content distribution (Reuters via Yahoo! News)
Yahoo Japan Corp. said on Thursday it had launched a mobile content distribution service, in which cellphone users can buy games, ring tones, news and other entertainment and information from 59 content providers.


Microsoft, Yahoo to link instant messages (USATODAY.com via Yahoo! News)
Microsoft and Yahoo will make their instant-messaging programs work together, a partnership that could give the companies more power to compete against market leader America Online. The companies expect the service to start by June 2006.


Yahoo to Bar Minor-Adult Sex Chat Rooms (Washington Post)
NEW YORK -- Yahoo Inc. said Wednesday it will bar chat rooms that promote sex between minors and adults and restrict all chat rooms to users 18 and older.

Today's News From & About Yahoo


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