Delays In Al-Nashiri Case Underscore Unfairness Of Military Commissions, Says ACLU

August 27, 2010
Terrorism Suspects Should Be Tried In Federal Criminal Courts

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NEW YORK – The revelation that the Obama administration is not planning to prosecute Guantánamo detainee Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri any time soon underscores the inherent unfairness of the military commissions, the American Civil Liberties Union said today. The disclosure that the prosecution of al-Nashiri has stalled came in a court filing earlier this week and was first reported in the Washington Post.

Earlier this week, defense attorney Navy Lt. Cmdr. Stephen C. Reyes requested the appointment of a mitigation specialist to assist him in preparing a defense in anticipation of a capital military commission trial against al-Nashiri. Bruce MacDonald, the Convening Authority for the military commissions, denied the request because “at this time, charges have not been sworn against Mr. al Nashiri.”

However, the Defense Department issued a statement on Thursday saying that military prosecutors are “actively investigating the case against Mr. al-Nashiri and are developing charges against him.”

The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU:

“The current state of the al-Nashiri trial underscores the fact that the military commissions system is designed to get convictions – not to provide fair trials that result in real justice. In the military commissions, the prosecution has all the power and the money, while the defense remains severely under-resourced. While the prosecution is getting paid to perfect its case against al-Nashiri, his lone defense attorney has been denied much-needed resources and all but blocked from preparing a defense. This is one more reason the military commissions should be shut down for good, and terrorism suspects should be tried in federal courts that guarantee the right to a robust defense and uphold the rule of law.”

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