Justice Or A Joke?

Jon Gold

Here is an excerpt from a statement from the September 11th Advocates with regards to the Military Tribunals taking place at Guantanamo.

Prosecuting these men within a system that is secretive in nature and lacking in due process, and which uses evidence tainted by questionable interrogation methods and possibly even torture, is a dangerous endeavor.

Here is information supporting the claim that the military tribunals are "secretive in nature":

U.S. Presents Charges Against 6 in Sept. 11 Case [New York Times, 2/11/2008]

He said the accused will enjoy the same rights that members of the American military enjoy, and that the proceedings will be €œas completely open as possible,€ notwithstanding the occasional need to protect CLASSIFIED information.

9/11 Trial: Don't Expect Another Nuremberg [CBSNews, 2/12/2008]

Military officials said all the right things Monday - that there would be very little CLASSIFIED evidence introduced against the men and that they would be afforded most of the same rights as accused U.S. soldiers - but it is unclear as I write this whether in fact the procedures ballyhooed now are materially different from the procedures that have been challenged before and that remain legally dubious even today.

Gitmo tribunal rules limit evidence disclosures [Miami Herald, 4/3/2008]

"We can't disclose CLASSIFIED information. We can't disclose privacy information," the war-court legal advisor, Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, said in an interview.


In a November response to a written protest by attorneys for The New York Times and other news organizations, the commission deputy legal advisor, Michael Chapman, explained it this way: Military judges are charged with "the delicate balance of providing for the public interest in the commission proceedings, protecting the rights of the accused, maintaining witness privacy, securing CLASSIFIED or sensitive information and ensuring the interests of justice are appropriately respected and protected."

Bin Laden's driver can send notes to detainees [Miami Herald, 4/30/2008]

Guards have isolated 16 so-called high-value detainees under top secret circumstances somewhere on this base; to speak to them, their lawyers need special CLASSIFIED status.


Specifically, Murphy said: "We are worried about highly CLASSIFIED information and the manipulation that these detainees could undertake to thwart this commissions process."

Delay sought in Guantanamo 9/11 case [Associated Press, 5/19/2008]

Defense lawyer and Army Maj. Jon Jackson said his team does not have enough access to his client, Mustafa al-Hawsawi, or to secure facilities where CLASSIFIED material must be reviewed.


Defense lawyers are also crippled because they have been assigned no authorized location, at Guantanamo or in Washington, to review CLASSIFIED information, Jackson said in his motion.

"Counsel have no place to store work product, discuss CLASSIFIED material or prepare for their case while in Cuba," Jackson wrote, adding that construction of a secure facility in Washington €” which was to have been completed by the end of 2007 €” has not even begun.

DellaVedova insisted that defense lawyers have secure facilities at Guantanamo and in Washington to review the information.

Jackson asked the judge to delay his client's arraignment until the government provides a security clearance for Sosbee, supplies the defense team with secure facilities for CLASSIFIED material and allows "for defense preparation of this case." More time is also needed to obtain a civilian attorney for al-Hawsawi if he wants one, Jackson said.

Defense lawyers for 9/11 detainees seek to delay arraignments [jurist.law.pitt.edu, 5/20/2008]

They allege the US government has interfered with the defendants' rights to counsel by refusing to provide facilities for the review of CLASSIFIED evidence or to grant security clearances to attorneys assisting in the defense.

Alleged 9/11 plotters face military tribunal [Associated Press, 6/4/2008]

Hartmann insisted the trials will be fair even though the evidence may include coerced statements and material so CLASSIFIED that even the defendants can't see it or challenge it.

9/11 suspect: 'I wish to be martyred' [CNN, 6/5/2008]

Kohlmann announced at the start of the session that at least part of the detainees' statements would be CLASSIFIED and the judge would block out audio.

9/11 mastermind calls for death penalty [AFP, 6/5/2008]

"Any statement by any of the detainees is presumptively CLASSIFIED," Kohlmann said.

Lawyer seeks clearance for 9/11 defendant [Associated Press, 6/17/2008]

A military attorney for one of the Sept. 11 defendants at Guantanamo Bay predicted on Tuesday the Pakistani would at best see only a sliver of CLASSIFIED evidence and would be convicted in what amounts to "a top secret trial."


Mizer noted that if the defendant lacks a security clearance, his defense team will be unable to share CLASSIFIED evidence with him unless and until the judge allows it to be discussed in open court.


However, some CLASSIFIED information presented to the jury and the defendants may be censored or summarized, Hartmann said, touching on a key element in whether America's first war-crimes trials since the World War II era are seen as fair.


Mizer said that on four occasions while defending another Guantanamo detainee, he himself was barred from seeing CLASSIFIED documents the government presented to a military judge, even though the Navy lawyer has security clearance.


Hartmann acknowledged that on rare occasions, defense lawyers might be denied access to CLASSIFIED information presented to the judge, saying that the military trials must "balance national security interests with the accused needing to see the information."

US to carry on military trials at Guantanamo despite ruling [AFP, 6/24/2008]

Details of the decision were not immediately available because it involved CLASSIFIED information, according to the appeals court statement.

Defendant in 9/11 plot denies he was coerced to reject representation by military lawyers [Associated Press, 7/9/2008]

But Kohlmann told al-Hawsawi that he would not have the security clearances required to see some of the CLASSIFIED evidence against him.

9/11 suspect to defend self at Guantanamo trial [Associated Press, 7/9/2008]

The judge, Marine Col. Ralph Kohlmann, said Ali's situation will only become more difficult and tried to persuade him to accept his lawyers. Without a security clearance, he said Ali will not have access to CLASSIFIED material during the death penalty trial.

"The way the rules are you will not have access to CLASSIFIED material to assist you in your case," he said.

Judge urges 9/11 suspects to accept legal help [LATimes, 7/10/2008]

A military judge Wednesday strongly advised two accused co-conspirators in the Sept. 11 attacks not to represent themselves in their upcoming trial because their defense would suffer from several factors, including a lack of access to the CLASSIFIED evidence that the government plans to use against them.


"All of these things are usually done in a trial better by a lawyer with special knowledge and experience with the laws and procedures," Kohlmann said in separate comments to both men. "In addition, you will not be given access to CLASSIFIED materials before trial because you lack the security clearances, [which] would severely hinder any effort by you to represent yourself."


The judge noted that prosecutors had filed a motion the day before the hearing in which they too urged the judge to warn the accused about the hardships they would encounter by representing themselves, especially the lack of access to CLASSIFIED evidence.


In the past, military commission officials have said that the so-called high-value detainees would get access to the CLASSIFIED information gathered against them, but only once the trial was underway.

9/11 plotters tell Guantanamo judge of legal woes [LATimes, 7/11/2008]

Navy Capt. Prescott L. Prince and civilian lawyers David Nevin and Scott McKay said, for instance, that the government has decreed that anything Mohammed says or writes is considered CLASSIFIED, essentially prohibiting them from using it in court filings or in investigative efforts aimed at determining whether he is guilty of the terrorist acts for which he has claimed responsibility.

Alleged 9/11 mastermind may testify in Hamdan's trial [Miami Herald, 7/18/2008]

'The CIA, which had kept Mohammed and the other alleged 9/11 conspirators in secret detention until turning them over to the military, has insisted that their former captives can talk only to people at Guantanamo with special CLASSIFIED security clearances. But Mizer already holds the needed clearances.

In that same statement from the September 11th Advocates, they proclaim that, "it is imperative to prove that these six detainees are indeed the guilty parties."

Given that these military tribunals are so "secretive," how on Earth do they expect us to believe that they have proven those being held at Guantanamo are "indeed the guilty parties?"

Is this Justice or a joke? If it is the latter, it is not funny.