Exporting kangaroo ... courts
Seems the "show trials" in Guantánamo have hit a little snag: Not enough lawyers. Who would have thunk it?:
When military officials announced war crimes charges against six detainees for the Sept. 11 attacks two months ago, the move was part of an effort to accelerate the Bush administration’s sluggish military commission system, which has yet to hold a single trial.Well, seeing as they forced out Col. Morris Davis, and Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, perhaps someone should have seen this coming.
But the Sept. 11 case immediately hit a snag. Military defense lawyers were in short supply, and even now, two months later, not one of the six detainees has met his military lawyer.
But not to worry! Someone's on top of the problem. We're out-sourcing the kangaroo courts!:
Dozens of Afghan men who were previously held by the United States at Bagram Air Base and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, are now being tried here in secretive Afghan criminal proceedings based mainly on allegations forwarded by the American military.Why does all this sound familiar?
The prisoners are being convicted and sentenced to as much as 20 years’ confinement in trials that typically run between half an hour and an hour, said human rights investigators who have observed them. One early trial was reported to have lasted barely 10 minutes, an investigator said.
The prosecutions are based in part on a security law promulgated in 1987, during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Witnesses do not appear in court and cannot be cross-examined. There are no sworn statements of their testimony.
Instead, the trials appear to be based almost entirely on terse summaries of allegations that are forwarded to the Afghan authorities by the United States military. Afghan security agents add what evidence they can, but the cases generally center on events that sometimes occurred years ago in war zones that the authorities may now be unable to reach.
“These are no-witness paper trials that deny the defendants a fundamental fair-trial right to challenge the evidence and mount a defense,” said Sahr MuhammedAlly, a lawyer for the advocacy group Human Rights First who has studied the proceedings. “So any convictions you get are fundamentally flawed.”
(h/t to ThinkProgress on these two N.Y. Times stories)