President Bush is trying to use his final eleven months in office to guarantee that someone — anyone — will be convicted in his controversial military commission tribunal system. After millions of dollars, international scorn, and years of litigation, the Administration wants to try six detainees in the system. Some are reportedly victims of torture. Having destroyed evidence of the torture, it appears that the subjects could also be terminated — the military indicated it will seek the death penalty and Bush himself is the ultimate appellate “decider.”
The military commission tribunals have long been viewed as one of the great blunders of the Bush Administration. Hundreds of detainees have been released — many of whom were found to have been held without cause. No one has stood trial, let alone faced sentencing. Millions have been spent on litigation and the Bush courts have been denounced domestically and internationally as a bad joke, including criticism by conservatives like William Safire and others. The great irony is that if Bush had simply allowed the federal courts to handle the cases, all of these men would have been convicted years ago and could have faced the death penalty.
This has never been about national security. Only a handful of individuals would be tried under the system after paying these prohibitive costs. It is about power. Various extreme voices in the Administration like Viet Dinh and John Yoo sought to use 9-11 to expand executive power. They sought to establish precedent that the President could unilaterally strip citizens and non-citizens of their rights and hold them indefinitely. In the military commission system, they sought to establish that a president could create his own legal system and execute people on his own authority.
Now it is essential that someone be prosecuted under this system, so that Bush can claim some benefit from the high cost borne by the country. It is doubtful that anyone will be executed in his administration. For a prior column, click here
The six examples chosen for this exercise include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Mohammed al-Qahtani, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, and Walid bin Attash. Of course, Mohammed al-Qahtani is only the latest “20th hijacker” identified by the Bush Administration. (Click here). This seems to be the pursuit of yet additional trophy terrorists after refusing to subject their cases to a real court of law. (Click here and here)/
For the full story, click here
13 thoughts on “A Tribunal in Search of a Purpose: Bush Seeks to Execute Six in Cuba in His Final Eleven Months”
Dodd has played a noble part in this unhappy play of the haunting of the present by the past.
I will remember his integrity and reward it appropriately.
Dodd: The Rule of Law Abandoned, “Dark Day” in the Senate
February 12, 2008
“…in this huge fabric of lawlessness, it was the closest thread to grab. I believed that if we grabbed hold and pulled, it would begin to unravel…”
Senator Dodd made clear his intentions to move the fight to the expected conference agreement between the House and Senate negotiators. The House previously passed a FISA bill that does not contain retroactive immunity and Dodd said he would use whatever tools were available to him, including forcing a cloture vote and taking to the Senate floor to implore his colleagues to stand with him, to try to stop a conference report that retains the retroactive immunity provision.
“…I have fought so long against retroactive immunity because, in this huge fabric of lawlessness, it was the closest thread to grab. I believed that if we grabbed hold and pulled, it would begin to unravel.
That hasn’t happened, Mr. President. But if we believe that each assault against the rule of law was an accident, that each was isolated, we’re deluding ourselves. If the past is any guide, there will be another one. And hope, as they say, springs eternal. I hope we will stand up then.
And perhaps we’ll have the chance to do so very soon. As you know, the House of Representatives has passed a version of this bill without retroactive immunity. It will be the job of the House-Senate conference committee to reconcile the two versions of the bill. And before I stand down, I want to implore the members of that committee, in the strongest terms I can find, to strip retroactive immunity from this bill once and for all…
“The Rule of Law is fundamental to our existence as a civilized nation. The Rule of Law is not a goal which we merely aspire to achieve; it is the floor below which we must not sink.”
“…the law—has long been clear: Waterboarding detainees amounts to illegal torture in all circumstances. To suggest otherwise—or even to give credence to such a suggestion—represents both an affront to the law and to the core values of our nation.”
from a letter dated 2 November 2007, to Hon Patrick J Leahy
from Rear Admiral Donald J Guter, USN (Ret), Rear Admiral John D Hutson USN (Ret), Maj Gen John L Fugh USA (Ret) and Brig Gen David M Brahms USMC (Ret). All were chief Judge Advocate Generals of their service branches.
And the President want us to use evidence obtained from this barbaric coercion to send people to their deaths? I think this is highly inadvisable.
And here is the ur-document that gave the green light to the “experimental interrogations” at Guantanamo for “high value” detainees.
The readers’ attentions are directed to page 12 paragraph “f” and following conclusions at the end of the report.
causing the “misperception” of imminent death was okayed so long as the motives were pure.
The idea that we would convict, much less execute someone on the basis of evidence derived from torture is so repugnant, words fail me.
The distinguished Justice Antonin Scalia speaks up:
“so-called torture” indeed.
“Bestowing retroactive telecom amnesty is nothing more than the latest step in creating a two-class legal system in America, where most citizens suffer grave penalties if they break the law, while our most politically powerful and well-connected actors are free to do so with impunity.”
Gimme’ some of ‘dat good ol’ time fascism!
Actually, I think he’s looking to hand off a hot potato to the next prez especially since it’s going to be a Dem.
“..they sought to establish that a president could create his own legal system and execute people on his own authority.”
What a chilling statement, especially when viewed along with this one from Glenn Greenwald’s column today.
““Bestowing retroactive telecom amnesty is nothing more than the latest step in creating a two-class legal system in America, where most citizens suffer grave penalties if they break the law, while our most politically powerful and well-connected actors are free to do so with impunity.”
Notice that Greenwald appropriately calls this a legal system, not a justice system. That latter term, needless to say, does not apply.
D.W., I can only hope so. With this kind of insanity going on, I have very real doubts at times.
Someday we will climb up out of this darkness.
While not Cuba, here’s another kind of fear to bring into the mix. It’s amazing to see how cooperative people become in providing evidence – when it suits.
Shocking pictures have come to light revealing the extent of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib – and it’s much worse than anyone imaged.
The photos depict new incidents of homicide, torture and sexual humiliation and indicate a broader pattern of abuse than was previously understood.
“We now know there was systemic and widespread abuse”, states ACLU lawyer Amrit Singh. She hopes the photos release will lead to a proper inquiry.
What are the odds that these so-called trials will be completed before George W. leaves office? I think that Bush is ordering it now to make it an election issue. Every time there is an election the Republicans try to bring fear and 9/11 into the mix in an attempt to claim that the the Dems are weak on security issues.
As I read this entry I heard a news blurb from NPR with Brig General Hartman saying the govt. will make all the evidence against the accused available to them. NPR forgot to add the part about all the evidence that wasn’t classified (aka-most of it). I fear a full PR blitz by the adminstration to obscure the reality that these trials are a travesty of justice.
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