Bush Administration Continues to Ram Through Military Commissions Despite Obama’s Pledge to Dismantle Guantánamo
Pentagon Files New Charges Against Alleged September 11 Plotter Despite Evidence Of Torture
NEW YORK - In
a continued effort to press ahead with the Guantánamo military
commissions at warp speed before the Obama administration can implement
its plans to dismantle them, military prosecutors have filed new
charges against detainee Mohammed al-Qahtani, who is accused of having
plotted with the hijackers in the September 11 attacks. The
administration dropped charges against al-Qahtani in May amidst
revelations that he had been tortured and subjected to coercive
interrogation techniques that could make it impossible to prosecute him
with admissible evidence.
President-elect Obama has rejected
the military commissions and pledged to close down Guantánamo. A New
York Times article today reported that Pentagon official Brig. Gen.
Thomas Hartmann is planning to brief President-elect Obama's transition
team on the military commission process going forward.
The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union:
"The haphazard nature of the Bush
administration's case against al-Qahtani - first charging him, then
dropping the charges, then charging him again - is emblematic of an ad
hoc and unstable system. The Bush administration has backed itself into
a corner by abusing its detainees and sabotaging its own cases against
them. If, as the administration claims, it has reliable evidence
against al-Qahtani - or any other detainees, for that matter - it
should prosecute him in the federal civilian or military court system
where real justice can be served and the results can be trusted. Sham
trials, torture and illegal imprisonment are not worthy of our
"The last thing the Bush
administration should be doing is ramming through the Guantánamo cases
and pursuing new ones in the 11th hour of its administration. It can
only be interpreted as a direct effort to make it as difficult as
possible for President-elect Obama to shut down the shameful Guantánamo
system once he takes office. This is another example of the political
motivation behind these unfair and unconstitutional commissions.
"We trust that President-elect Obama
will seek the counsel of a wide range of experts when determining how
to dismantle the Guantánamo debacle, and not just listen to General
Hartmann, who has been widely discredited for exerting political
influence over these prosecutions. The president-elect's team should
also meet with the military and civilian defense teams who are fighting
to expose the injustice of these proceedings through the John Adams
Project. If President-elect Obama receives a full assessment of the
deep flaws in this system, we are sure he will immediately follow
through on his pledge to close Guantánamo and its sham military
The ACLU, in partnership with the
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers through the John Adams
Project, has retained over 25 civilian lawyers and legal professionals
to assist with representation of several Guantánamo detainees and
partner with the under-resourced military defense counsel.
More information on the John Adams Project is available at: www.aclu.org/johnadams
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