Monday, August 01, 2005

Sentence First, Verdict Afterwards!

Another example of freedom on the march:

As the Pentagon was making its final preparations to begin war crimes trials against four detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, two senior prosecutors complained in confidential messages last year that the trial system had been secretly arranged to improve the chance of conviction and to deprive defendants of material that could prove their innocence...

Among the striking statements in the prosecutors' messages was an assertion by one that the chief prosecutor had told his subordinates that the members of the military commission that would try the first four defendants would be "handpicked" to ensure that all would be convicted.

The same officer, Capt. John Carr of the Air Force, also said in his message that he had been told that any exculpatory evidence - information that could help the detainees mount a defense in their cases - would probably exist only in the 10 percent of documents being withheld by the Central Intelligence Agency for security reasons.

Captain Carr's e-mail message also said that some evidence that at least one of the four defendants had been brutalized had been lost and that other evidence on the same issue had been withheld. The March 15, 2004, message was addressed to Col. Frederick L. Borch, the chief prosecutor who was the object of much of Captain Carr's criticism.

The second officer, Maj. Robert Preston, also of the Air Force, said in a March 11, 2004, message to another senior officer in the prosecutor's office that he could not in good conscience write a legal motion saying the proceedings would be "full and fair" when he knew they would not.


Here's another article:

...another prosecutor, Captain John Carr...says the commissions appear to be rigged.

"When I volunteered to assist with this process and was assigned to this office, I expected there would at least be a minimal effort to establish a fair process and diligently prepare cases against significant accused," he wrote.

"Instead, I find a half-hearted and disorganised effort by a skeleton group of relatively inexperienced attorneys to prosecute fairly low-level accused in a process that appears to be rigged."

Capt Carr says that the prosecutors have been told by the chief prosecutor that the panel sitting in judgment on the cases would be handpicked to ensure convictions.

"You have repeatedly said to the office that the military panel will be handpicked and will not acquit these detainees and that we only needed to worry about building a record for the review panel," he said.


Now, interestingly, we can compare and contrast Team Bush's idea of justice with that of the United States, namely, something Judge John C. Coughenour's said when imposing a sentence of 22 years in prison for Ahmed Ressam, the would be Millenium Bomber (note: Coughenour is a Reagan appointee):

"We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant or deny the defendant the right to counsel...The message to the world from today's sentencing is that our courts have not abandoned our commitment to the ideals that set our nation apart."

Team Bush's ideas are more along these lines:

'Let the jury consider their verdict,' the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.

'No, no!' said the Queen. 'Sentence first - verdict afterwards.'

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