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Guantanamo Kangaroo Court collapses

Guantanamo inmates have been given a new hope. It turns out that the Kangaroo Courts set up by the Bush administration are falling apart under their own incompetence. Apparently, the “tribunals” were set up to deal with “unlawful enemy combatants”, and have no jurisdiction over other prisoners. The problem is that all (or most) of the prisoners at Guantanamo are not “unlawful enemy combatants”.

At the time of their arrests, they were assessed, and determined to be “enemy Combatants”. As such, they are entitled to all of the protections of the Geneva Convention, which they have been denied. What is truly ironic abut this whole fiasco is that the tribunals were set up after the fact – all of the prisoners were already in Guantanamo when the tribunals were set up. They were set up because the Bush administration was facing world-wide condemnation for refusal to recognize basic human rights, and to adhere to the Geneva Convention. The Bush administration admitted openly that they could no allow the Guantanamo prisoners to face a normal trial – either by the military, civilian, or world court. The excuse was that the prisoners had “Secret and sensitive information”. This information was so sensitive that a normal jury, a Military Court, or a UN court couldn’t possibly be exposed to it without jeopardizing US security. Think about it. These prisoners are supposedly the enemy terrorists. What possible information about US security could they have that would jeopardize US security? If they already have the info, and they really are members of terrorist group, then the information is already out there. Maybe the “threat to US security” was simply the fact that these prisoners represent living breathing (at least for now) proof of the Bush administrations human rights violations. Dare we call them war crimes? Let’s take a quick review.

A prisoner is captured – possibly on a battlefield, possible by kidnapping, possibly just because a firefight erupted in their neighborhood, and they couldn’t get away before the US arrested them. They are sent to a secret prison, tortured, interrogated, but never told why, what they are charged with, how long they will be held, or what they can expect. Human rights groups are denied access to them. They are not given access to any legal council. We know that a number of them have been killed during the torture sessions. When domestic and world outcry forces the administration to do something, it sets up a kangaroo court. Is this that different from world war two or soviet cold war era secret police forces?

There is hope. Senator Chris Dodd has said that the system is corroding America’s foundation of freedom. Sen. Arlen Specter – the senior republican on the senate judiciary committee – has stated that Congress may have to re-evaluate the legal rights of the Guantanamo detainees.

So, does this represent any real hope for the 400 or so victims at Guantanamo? Unfortunately, probably not. The US would have to admit that the whole fiasco was a poorly thought out failure. Bush has made it clear that he’d rather stick to his rhetoric than admit that his administration has made serious mistakes. There is small chance that Congress (now under the control of the democrats) will actually do something right, and attempt to fix this screw-up, but as long as Bush is sitting in the white house, their chances of success are slim. Probably the best hope for the Guantanamo victims would be if the US actually admitted that there is no way the victims can be handled fairly within the US system, and asks the World Court to figure the whole thing out. Of course, anyone with ties toe h US or the administration would have to recuse themselves, and who would that leave? Bottom line? Right or wrong, the road to Guantanamo is one way, and will probably stay that way.

related story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6720315.stm

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