A Victory for the Rule of Law. Kind of.

Earlier today, Attorney General Eric Holder officially announced that the five defendants represented by the John Adams Project who have been charged in the 9/11 attacks will be tried in federal court, rather than in the unconstitutional Guantánamo military commissions. This is a clear victory for the rule of law, and we thank all of you who have supported the ACLU in our efforts to shed light on the injustices of the military commission proceedings at Guantánamo Bay.

Though our John Adams Project, a collaboration with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the ACLU has assisted under-resourced military defense counsel representing Guantánamo detainees accused in connection with the 9/11 attacks and other cases, in order to bring some modicum of fairness to the unconstitutional and unjust military commissions proceedings. We believe this effort succeeded in shining a light on just how unfair those proceedings are, and the need to move them to federal court.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said in a statement today:

Over $4 million of private money has been spent on what should have been the government's legal responsibility, but we are gratified that we averted a miscarriage of justice in sham proceedings. We launched the John Adams Project because of our grave concerns that the military commissions process does not reflect our country's commitment to justice and due process. Through our representation of these defendants as part of the Project, the ACLU has seen first-hand the legal debacle of the military commissions and has repeatedly called for their abolition. Moving these cases to federal courts will finally deliver the justice that Americans deserve and can trust. We call on the administration to reconsider the continued use of military commissions and to rely on our federal courts that can finally deliver the justice that Americans deserve and can trust.

But this victory is bittersweet, because Holder indicated that some detainees would be tried in the unlawful military commission system. As Glenn Glennwald pointed out this morning:

So what we have here is not an announcement that all terrorism suspects are entitled to real trials in a real American court. Instead, what we have is a multi-tiered justice system, where only certain individuals are entitled to real trials: namely, those whom the Government is convinced ahead of time it can convict.

[…]A system of justice which accords you varying levels of due process based on the certainty that you'll get just enough to be convicted isn't a justice system at all. It's a rigged game of show trials.

Join us in urging Attorney General Eric Holder to move all the Guantánamo military commissions cases to federal court — a system of justice that upholds our values and laws.

The ACLU will continue to push for the complete closure of Guantánamo, and an end to the military commissions and any system of indefinite detention. In the meantime, take the time to celebrate this victory for the rule of law.

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Jeff Weinberger

While I agree that AG Holder's announcement is a victory for the defendants and thereby for the ACLU, please address the question as to whether, in a courtroom just blocks from the site of the 9/11 devastation, these defendants will have a chance in hell of getting a fair trial.

TrueAmerican

The ACLU makes me sick. Exploiting victims and buying the President and his AG off so they can drag victims though this agony to feed the ACLU's coffers. I am absolutely disgusted.

TrueAmerican

The ACLU makes me sick. Exploiting victims and buying the President and his AG off so they can drag victims though this agony to feed the ACLU's coffers. I am absolutely disgusted.

AnonymousCoward

True American: When you're being wrongly held indefinitely without trial, don't come crying to me. If any of us are to have civil liberties, then all of us are to.

Maggie

I am going to play devil's advocate here: Do you believe that any of these men(especially this bunch)brought to New York for trial will leave New York alive? Over 3,000 people were killed, all with families, there has to be a lot of crazies out there.

That being said I do hope that this turns out to be for the good.

Anonymous

The ACLU makes me sick. Exploiting victims and buying the President and his AG off so they can drag victims though this agony to feed the ACLU's coffers. I am absolutely disgusted.
Roll forming machine

Anonymous

Maggie: If I ever engage in a phony religious war against supposed infidels and kill 3,000 people I won't come crying to any political organization. I would be a war criminal and subject to the Geneva convention - not the US constitution.

Alex

Anonymous: If captured by US troops in a warzone and tried for killing 3000 American civilians, the Geneva Conventions say you'd have to be given a fair trial by a regular tribunal (ie a US court martial, civilian court or a court that meets min standards--ie not Bush's military comm.), even if you were ruled an unprivileged belligerent and denied POW status.

If given POW status, you'd HAVE to be tried in the same courts as US troops (ie courts martial or civilian federal courts). So either way Geneva more-or-less says you'd get rights under the Constitution of whatever country detains you.

Anonymous

Your organization makes me puke!!! The ACLU and Eric Holder are traitors in the War Against Islamic Terrorism.The Jihadist POW combatants are not protected by the U.S. Constitution--plain and simple. Not only are you fifth columnists, you both are illegally
and openly disobeying the U.S. Constitution. Holder and the ACLU should stand trial before both a military and civil court!!! Your disgusting and sanctimonious arrogance is a direct threat to the American People and The Republic.

Put that in your water pipe and smoke on it!!!

Paen

The crazed fascists who wish to abolish the rule of law are a far greater threat to the Republic than Ben Laden can ever dream of being.

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