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Infinite jeopardy round

February 21, 2007

“I’ll take Bush Administration Totem Animals for 200, Alex.”Gitmo totem animal
“Inspired design of the Combatant Status Review Tribunals”
“Ka- ka- ”
“Could you phrase that as a question, please?”
“What is a kangaroo?”

Enterprising scholars at Seton Hall University law school in New Jersey have combed through what little has been pried loose from the secretive bowels of the torture-happy Cheney Administration’s operations at Gitmo, and emerged with this salubrious report. (pdf format).

The Defense Department responded to 2004 instructions from the Supreme Court, in both Rasul and Hamdan, that detainees must be granted habeas corpus access to federal courts, by setting up a system of combatant status review tribunals (CSRTs), to determine whether detainees were “illegal enemy combatants”.

Of 558 detainees who went through the tribunal process, federal courts forced Gitmo to release tribunal records for 102 of them. The Seton Hall study analyzes those 102 reluctantly coughed up records. If nothing else, take a peek at the first two pages, the executive summary. None of the tribunals granted any right to counsel. A “personal representative”, usually shockingly passive (meeting the defendant only once in 78% of the cases, sometimes for as little as 10 minutes, often not bothering to speak at the hearing), was assigned by the DoD.

The evidence against them was secret; neither they nor their representatives were permitted to see it when it was classified, and rarely permitted to do so when it was not classified. In no instance did the unclassified “evidence” provide any clue as to why they were being considered enemy combatants. The rules of the proceeding required the three tribunal judges to assume that the secret evidence was “reliable and accurate”. The secret evidence could include material obtained under torture; it could include hearsay from anonymous informants.

The government called no witnesses in any of the hearings. The defendants were permitted to ask for witnesses, but not a single requested witness (other than a handful of other detainees, presumed to be sworn enemies of the United States) was allowed to testify.

This is what Cheney and Bush and Rumsfeld and Gonzales call “justice”. It gets better. From the executive summary:

14. In three of the 102 CSRT returns reviewed, the Tribunal found the detainee to be not/no longer an enemy combatant. In each case, the Defense Department ordered a new Tribunal convened, and the detainee was then found to be an enemy combatant. In one instance, a detainee was found to be no longer an enemy combatant by two Tribunals, before a third Tribunal was convened, which then found the detainee to be an enemy combatant.

15. When a detainee was initially found not/no-longer to be an enemy combatant:

a. The detainee was not told of his favorable decision;

b. There is no indication that the detainee was informed of or participated in the second (or third) hearings;

c. The record of the decision finding the detainee not/no-longer to be an enemy combatant is incomplete.

You are presumed guilty until proven innocent. Then you are presumed guilty again and again and again until judges can be cycled in who will ignore the proof of innocence.

It has been said that military justice is to justice as military music is to music. That’s as may be. What’s clear is that Bush justice is to justice as the screams of the slowly dismembered are to music.

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