Law, Politics

The L.A. Times has a scathing editorial against the Supreme Court ordered tribunals for the Guantanamo detainees. (The Supreme Court didn’t order tribunals, but they were vague enough so as to allow military tribunals to meet their requirement that there be some kind of a hearing.)

The opening round of detainee military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay last week resembled something between a Mel Brooks farce and the kangaroo courts of former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.

… The U.S. criminal justice system, including its military stepchild, is supposed to stand for due process, impartiality and openness. These are the same principles, after all, that U.S. troops are fighting — and dying — to seed in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the slapdash preliminary hearings for the first four of some 600 Guantanamo detainees violated basic tenets of fairness.

…In a criminal court, the lay jury decides the facts and the judge rules on questions of law. Here, however, tribunal members decide on both. Yet the five nonlawyers were clearly befuddled last week when asked to define concepts such as due process and reasonable doubt.

(via Kevin Drum)