David Hicks Military Commission Proceeding to Start...Or Not
The first Guantanamo military commission proceeding is set to begin Monday with the arraignment of Australian David Hicks. He will be called upon to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty to providing material support to terrorists. He was originally charged with three charges of attempted murder, conspiracy and aiding the enemy, but those charges were dropped.
Today, David McLeod, his Australian lawyer said a plea deal is a possiblility.
Asked how Hicks would plead at tomorrow's arraignment McLeod said: ``That remains to be seen''.
Hicks, "a Muslim convert originally from Adelaide, was taken into custody while allegedly fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan in late 2001." He has been held for five years without a trial.
He is the first Guantanamo detainee charged under new rules for military trials, or commissions, adopted after the Supreme Court cast aside the previous system in June.
Hicks has claimed he was abused while at Guantanamo. You can read his affidavit here.
He has spent the day meeting with his three lawyers, McLeod, Major Michael Mori, his military lawyer, and Joshua Dratel, his civilian lawyer. He is shackled to the floor during his legal visits.
Updates: I recommend this Sunday New York Times editorial on Guantanamo
Mr. Bush rejected [other's] sound advice, heeding instead the chief enablers of his worst instincts, Vice President Dick Cheney and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Their opposition was no surprise. The Guantánamo operation was central to Mr. Cheney’s drive to expand the powers of the presidency at the expense of Congress and the courts, and Mr. Gonzales was one of the chief architects of the policies underpinning the detainee system. Mr. Bush and his inner circle are clearly afraid that if Guantánamo detainees are tried under the actual rule of law, many of the cases will collapse because they are based on illegal detention, torture and abuse — or that American officials could someday be held criminally liable for their mistreatment of detainees. It was distressing to see that the president has retreated so far into his alternative reality that he would not listen to Mr. Gates — even when he was backed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who, like her predecessor, Colin Powell, had urged Mr. Bush to close Guantánamo. It seems clear that when he brought in Mr. Gates, Mr. Bush didn’t want to fix Mr. Rumsfeld’s disaster; he just wanted everyone to stop talking about it.
Despite credible claims of torture made by many detainees, Bush still views Guantanamo through his monovisionist lens:
Still, the Bush administration says no prisoner should be allowed to take torture claims to court, including the innocents who were tortured and released. The administration’s argument is that how prisoners are treated is a state secret and cannot be discussed openly. If that sounds nonsensical, it is. It’s also not the real reason behind the administration’s denying these prisoners the most basic rights of due process.
The Bush administration has so badly subverted American norms of justice in handling these cases that they would not stand up to scrutiny in a real court of law. It is a clear case of justice denied.
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