The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Robyn Shepherd, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666;

ACLU To Monitor Unconstitutional Guantanamo Military Commission Hearings Wednesday

Group Reiterates Call For Commissions To End


American Civil Liberties Union will monitor the military commission
hearings of Sudanese nationals Ibrahim al-Qosi and Noor Uthman Muhammed
at Guantanamo 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 Guantanamo 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 Guantanamo. 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 Guantanamo 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."

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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