ACLU To Monitor Unconstitutional Guantánamo Military Commission Hearings Wednesday

October 20, 2009 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union will monitor the military commission hearings of Sudanese nationals Ibrahim al-Qosi and Noor Uthman Muhammed at Guantánamo Bay on Wednesday. Since 2004, the ACLU has observed nearly all military commission hearings and called for their end, calling them an affront to the rule of law and a denigration of the American system of justice. For the third time, the Obama administration will ask military judges in Wednesday’s cases to postpone the hearings until a final decision is made regarding the future of the military commissions system.

Al-Qosi, who was among the first prisoners to be brought to Guantánamo Bay in January 2002, is alleged to have provided material support to al-Qaeda, including serving as a driver and guard to Osama bin Laden. Muhammed was arrested in 2002 and is alleged to have trained al-Qaeda members at the Khaldan training camp in Afghanistan.

There is currently a bill in Congress which was passed by the House last week that, if signed into law, will make significant changes to the military commissions. However, the ACLU maintains that, even with these improvements, the proceedings would not meet the legal standards provided for in U.S. federal courts and would continue to be stigmatized with the tainted legacy of Guantánamo. The legislation still falls short of the requirements imposed by the Constitution and Geneva Conventions.

The following can be attributed to Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU Human Rights Program, who will be attending the hearings:

“The military commissions system is a failed legal experiment and it should be shut down for good rather than revived to perpetuate the legacy of Guantánamo and its second class system of justice. The military commissions are inherently flawed and incurable, and will only delay justice as the question of their legitimacy will be at the center of any future trials and appeals over convictions. Our federal courts are perfectly capable of handling terrorism cases while providing due process and meeting national security concerns. Military commissions should not be used as an instrument to justify indefinite detention and denial of fair trials in violation of the Constitution and international law.”

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