ACLU At Guantánamo This Week For 9/11 Hearings

December 8, 2008 12:00 am

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GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba – The American Civil Liberties Union is at Guantánamo this week for hearings in the 9/11-related military commission cases. The ACLU’s John Adams Project, a partnership with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NADCL), has sponsored expert civilian counsel who are assisting the under-resourced military defense counsel for several Guantánamo detainees.

Pre-trial motions filed by the ACLU and NACDL regarding the legitimacy of the commission cases as well as other matters may be argued today.

“We will do everything in our power to make sure President-elect Obama’s pledge to close Guantánamo and shut down the sham military commissions is fulfilled. That is why we are here fighting the Bush administration’s 11th hour attempt to ram through one-sided, unlawful proceedings before that happens,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “It is obstructionist and pointless to carry on with this legal farce when the incoming president has vowed to end it.”

In motions filed earlier this month, a coalition of military and civilian lawyers assembled by the John Adams Project argued that the Constitution should be the governing law in commission proceedings, CIA agents should be barred from the courtroom during the proceedings, and the military commissions lack jurisdiction to hear several of the cases in question.

The motions were filed on behalf of detainees Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, Mustafa Ahmed al Hawsawi and Ramzi bin al Shibh. A fifth defendant in the case, Walid bin Attash, did not join the motions because they were not translated into Arabic by the government-provided translator in time for review.

Tainted by political interference, the proceedings have been riddled with ethical and legal problems from day one. Among other things, the proceedings allow the admission of secret evidence, hearsay and evidence obtained through torture. The Bush administration has admitted that at least three detainees in its custody have been subjected to waterboarding.

“These and all cases in Guantánamo’s military commissions should be prosecuted in time-tested U.S. or military courts where the rule of law still applies. That is the only way justice can be served,” said Romero.

More information on the John Adams Project is available online at:

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