August 23, 2004

ACLU blogs gitmo hearings

Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, is more or less blogging the first military hearings at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base for detainees accused of terrorist acts. Romero is one of around 65 invited observers including 53 members of the media, and representatives from several NGOs including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and ACLU.

"Two themes have come out of this first day of briefings. One is the ambivalence that the military has toward NGO participants and even the broader media. They want to give us access, but not too much access. They want to be transparent, but the transparency can’t go too far. For instance, tomorrow, members of the media will travel to Camp Delta, but unfortunately the NGO participants were told that we cannot attend that tour, even though we have been given full security clearance to sit in the commission room on Tuesday.

"The second theme is that there is a great desire to show how the commissions and the tribunals are fair and just, and how they mirror the American system of justice. But yet, when you compare the rules for both the commissions and the tribunals, you find serious departures from either military justice proceedings or regular criminal proceedings. For instance, under the Combatant Status Review tribunals, which are “administrative” we were told, each detainee is assigned a personal representative who is not a legal representative and whose conversations with the detainee are not confidential in any way. In fact, this personal representative is able to provide both exculpatory and inculpatory evidence that he gleans in his “personal representation” of the detainee.

"How this all plays out, I hope to be able to tell you more in coming days. As I said to one of the reporters today, this isn’t about the guys in the orange jumpsuits, this is about us. This is about what rules and values will guide an American system of justice that we can hold up to Americans and to the entire world. So far, I have no comfort to give on that front and I doubt that much will change by the end of the week."

Posted by Gene at August 23, 2004 06:14 PM | TrackBack
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