Comparing Systems of Military Detentions and Trials
The New York Times has an article about the unfair trial of a Palestinian proceeding through Israel's military court system. It involves a juvenile who was arrested and provided information about a neighbor. The neighbor was then arrested and charged. What's striking, although not mentioned, is how much the Israeli system is like ours. I don't see how anyone can complain about one and not the other. Here are the things the article portrays as unfair, and each one is something that has occurred or is standard in our treatment of Guantanamo inmates and military commission trials:
It begins with a 14 year old named Islam who was arrested at home one night:
- He was blindfolded, handcuffed and whisked away in a jeep.
- After he was pulled from his home at night, Islam was taken to a nearby army base where, his lawyer said, he was left out in the cold for hours. In the morning, he was taken to the Israeli police for interrogation.
- The young man was interrogated and pressed to inform on his relatives, neighbors and friends.
- Alone and denied access to a lawyer for most of the period, he was partially cautioned three times about his rights but was never told directly that he had the right to remain silent. (For those at Gitmo or whisked away to secret prisons, there is no right to remain silent.)
- The people Islam identified were arrested and jailed for months and up to a year (Here we hold suspects for multiple years.)
- Another youth who was arrested implicated one of those fingered by Islam. The man's lawyer complains the bulk of the evidence against his client is the interrogation statements of the two boys. The military says it also has other witness statements.
- Under the Israeli youth law, Islam’s treatment would be deemed illegal. (Under our federal criminal system, the continued detention without charges and harsh treatment of the detainees would be illegal.)
- Last month, during pretrial proceedings in the case against Islam, a juvenile military court judge acknowledged serious flaws in the interrogation but ruled his testimony admissible. (The statements are not alleged to be the product of torture, and would also be admissible at our military commission trials.)
- One Palestinian prisoner has been hospitalized because of a hunger strike in protest against being detained for months without trial.
The New York Times says "troubling questions are being raised about these methods of the occupation." But we do the same thing, if not worse things. We have even held juveniles for years at Gitmo. How hypocritical it will be when one of our political leaders complains about the Israeli system but is content to let ours remain in place.
Islam spent 2 1/2 months in detention and was released to house arrest. He's traumatized by the experience. I'm not surprised, but he's lucky compared to those at Gitmo, especially the ones held for years and cleared for release, but who aren't going anywhere. (Nor was he flown half-way around the world.)
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