Guantanamo Watchers: Obama Getting Away With Policies Bush Wouldn't Have

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Common Dreams

Guantanamo Watchers: Obama Getting Away With Policies Bush Wouldn't Have

Death penalty expert: “There is nothing about this system that the average American... would see as being fair”

by
Common Dreams staff

Death penalty expert: “There is nothing about this system that the average American... would see as being fair.” (photo credit: (c) Amnesty International/Christoph Koettl)

Guantanamo observers say the public has stopped paying attention to the military tribunals for detainees at Guantanamo, and if the policies for the tribunals had been enacted by George W. Bush rather than President Obama, Americans would be outraged.

Bryan Broyles, the Pentagon’s deputy chief defense counsel at Guantanamo, told TPM that one aspect that should have Americans furious is allowing death penalty defendants to plead guilty yet still receive the death penalty.  Broyles notes that this means the trials are "set up to give someone what appears to be a fair trial with a predetermined result."

Richard Kammen, a death penalty expert representing accused USS Cole attack plotter Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, told TPM there were “huge, huge problems” in the military commissions system.

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TPMMuckraker: Guantanamo Lawyers: Obama Gets Away With Legal Moves Bush Wouldn’t Have

More than two years after President Barack Obama blew his self-imposed deadline to shut down the extrajudicial prison at Guantanamo Bay, close observers and defense lawyers with clients making their way through the reformed military tribunal system say the public isn’t paying attention.

“I think what you’ll find is the interest in the process will never get back up again,” Bryan Broyles, the Pentagon’s deputy chief defense counsel at Guantanamo, told TPM. “It’s fatigue and the thought that ‘Well, it must be okay now because Obama said it’s okay.’”

Broyles and other observers believe that some policy changes instituted under the Obama administration would have sparked outrage if President George W. Bush was still in the White House. One change he said should have been “extremely alarming” to the legal community: the rule allowing death penalty defendants to plead guilty and still receive the death penalty. [...]

[Richard Kammen, a death penalty expert representing accused USS Cole attack plotter Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri] called the reforms instituted by the Obama administration in 2009 “quite superficial” and said there are “huge, huge problems” in the military commissions system.

“There is nothing about this system that the average American, if they were caught up in it, would see as being fair,” Kammen said. “The Republicans have an interest in keeping this process going and the Democrats have an interest, to a certain extent, in not embarrassing Obama.”

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