Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Distain for Legal Rights
It should come as no surprise that the Defense Department's rules for trying foreign suspects in military tribunals are horrific and bear no resemblence to what we might think of as justice. But it does. It always amazes me how far they are willing to go, especially during a President's first term.

The defense rules require a military first chair attorney standing for any civilian who is required to have "secret" clearance. The traditional rules of evidence are simply not present. The defense attorney may not have access to all of the evidence even though the prosecution does. And the government intends to eavesdrop on all converstions between the client(s) and attorney.

"It's not a setup for a full and fair trial," said Michael Ratner, the president of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights. "In fact, it's the opposite of what we are used to in the U.S. system of justice. You can't say it's a one-way road to conviction, but it's close."

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