Sunday, June 01, 2008

Justice denied

The Bush-Cheney regime, desperate to push through its illegal trials of detainees at Guantanamo, has struck again. The Los Angeles Times reported that the army summarily dismissed a judge who had been critical of the prosecution of a Canadian detainee, having ordered the government to turn over medical and interrogation records or he would suspend the proceedings. The Army refused, arguing that the defence wasn’t entitled to the records. Now the judge who made the order has been removed by the Army.

Most Americans probably don’t know the arcane details of the “military commissions” the Bush-Cheney regime created to try detainees, but they violate every concept of justice, including traditional military justice. It was so offensive to members of the JAG corps that some officially complained about the tribunals and the procedures, obtaining small, mostly cosmetic changes. The detainees are still not usually allowed to know the specifics of the charges against them and cannot see the evidence the government will present, in secret. Evidence obtained by torture is admissible, in direct violation of international law and treaties the US has signed, and hearsay is also admissible.

Ex-defense secretary Rumsfeld’s and Vice President Dick Cheney famously kept repeating claims that the detainees were the “worst of the worst,” and the news media dutifully reported that. Either they were lying, or they were completely deceived, but in either case, they weren’t telling the truth. It’s now been documented that hundreds of the original detainees were simply sold to the US Army by Afghanistan warlords looking to make some cash from the bounties the Bush-Cheney regime was offering. Even so, and even after the truth became clear, in many cases it took years for innocent detainees to be released, and some still haven’t been.

But the detainees and their guilt or lack of it are beside the point. The whole thing is yet another example of how the Bush-Cheney regime has declared itself above the rule of law and ordinary behaviour of civilised nations. They have worked to destroy the fundamental principles of freedom, democracy and justice, and now they appear to be using political interference to make sure their sham tribunal system produces the results they want.

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