Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Bush says, "We don't want our intentions bogged down by regulations"

Whether it's attacking a sovereign nation, ravaging our forests, mining our wilderness or encouraging corporate polluters, this administration makes its own rules. You're either with them or you're their enemy and will be dispatched in any manner possible. In this instance, the Pentagon fires a team of military lawyers recruited to defend alleged terrorists at Guantanamo because some of the lawyers rebelled against unfair trial design.
And some members of the new legal defence team remain deeply unhappy with the trials - known as "military commissions" - believing them to be slanted towards the prosecution and an affront to modern US military justice.

Of the more than 600 detainees at the US prison camp at Guantanamo, none has been charged with any crime, and none has had access to a lawyer, although some have been in captivity of one kind or another for two years.

When charged, a prisoner will be assigned a uniformed military defence lawyer. The prisoners have a theoretical right to a civilian lawyer, but the US has placed financial and bureaucratic obstacles in the way of this.
Theoretical right, you could hardly find a more fitting term to represent this administration's view of civil rights, could you?
"There was a circular that went out to military lawyers in the early spring of 2003 which said 'we are looking for volunteers' for defence counsel," said the ex-military lawyer. "There was a selection process, and the people they selected were the right people, they had the right credentials, they were good lawyers.
Spring of 2003? Got right on that one didn't they - oh, excuse me, that was early spring. We applaud these quality lawyers for coming forward to volunteer for this assignment and...
"The first day, when they were being briefed on the dos and don'ts, at least a couple said: 'You can't impose these restrictions on us because we can't properly represent our clients.'

"When the group decided they weren't going to go along, they were relieved. They reported in the morning and got fired that afternoon."
standing up in 'justice for all'.
Yet the Guardian understands from a uniformed source with intimate knowledge of the mood among the current military defence team, six lawyers strong, that there is deep unhappiness about the commission set-up.
How will this group of attorneys be continued.


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