Friday, January 22, 2016

Major Legal Ruling That Impacts Gitmo Detainees and Rebukes Military Tribunals

Properly Overturned Conviction 
(image grabbed from Golden Cosmos)

Maybe the Sun Will Finally Set on Gitmo

The following is from this fine NY Times Story and my take on it for this posting - a topic that greatly interests me:

Here's the bottom line on Gitmo detainee justice — even if there is a bottom line as they say on justice for them.  
  • It still holds 116 men, even 13 years after it was opened, and nearly half of them long been cleared for release (except with no place to go). 
  • Keeping them locked up there costs American taxpayers about $2.7 million per head for one year of imprisonment. 
  • It is by all legal and constitutional precedence a black hole that dishonors every American principle of justice and due process. 

Recall that President Obama (even as candidate Barack Obama) promised to close it the moment he became president. However, despite all his efforts, this all-GOP run Congress has stubbornly refused to let that happen. It appears they not only greatly distrust Mr. Obama, but apparently our entire very effective Federal court and prison system.

However, after a recent court ruling (see below) and pending release of 17 detainees, almost none will remain who can be prosecuted by the military tribunals down there.

The GOP didn't things to turn out this way, but hey, can't trust our own courts, who can they trust, right (smile). Had most of them been handled by the Federal courts, who knows, perhaps more would have locked up for life, or maybe even a few would have gotten the death penalty.

The GOP should be ashamed - but I doubt they are.

That case in a nutshell:

In 2008, Ali al-Bahlul, a propagandist for al-Qaeda who had been held at Guantánamo since early 2002, was convicted by the military tribunal there and sentenced to life in prison.

At the time, American officials had no evidence that Mr. Bahlul was involved in any war crimes, so instead they charged him with domestic crimes, including conspiracy and material support of terrorism. Now, 8 years later, a Federal appeals court in Washington, DC has reversed Mr. Bahlul’s conspiracy conviction because, in their words: “The Constitution only permits military tribunals to handle prosecutions of war crimes, like intentionally targeting civilians.”

 (Also note: The court previously threw out the other charges on narrower grounds).

The 2-1 decision was read by Circuit Judge Judith Rogers. This is a major rebuke to the government’s persistent and misguided reliance on the military commission tribunals, which clearly by this ruling, seem to operate in a legal no man’s land, unconstrained by standard constitutional guarantees, and rules of evidence that define the functioning of the nation’s civilian courts. That then become one huge black mark on our entire legal system.

So, let’s hope this proper and legal route is followed that will somehow in small way help correct the damage to many lives or properly try, convict them, and if necessary, lock them forever. 

Stay tuned … because I am nearly 100% sure that this all-GOP run Congress will not see it the same way and go quietly in the night as they say. You know, they, the party of Constitutional properness. Oops…

Thanks for stopping by.

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