Obama Administration To Revive Fatally Flawed Military Commissions

May 9, 2009

Move Would Strike A Blow To Due Process, Says ACLU

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

NEW YORK - News reports today indicate the Obama administration is considering reviving the flawed military commissions system to try Guantánamo detainees within the United States. According to the reports, the revamped system would still allow the use of hearsay evidence, which is inadmissible in federal court and military courts martial, in some circumstances. The American Civil Liberties Union says moving the commissions to U.S. soil would do nothing to increase their legitimacy.

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU:

"The Obama administration's purported plans to resuscitate the Guantánamo military commissions and ship them onto American soil is fatally flawed. The military commissions are built on unconstitutional premises and designed to ensure convictions, not provide fair trials. Reducing some but not all of the flaws of the tribunals so that they are 'less offensive' is not acceptable; there is no such thing as 'due process light.' Our justice system depends upon basic principles of fairness and transparency and once they are compromised even a little, they are rendered meaningless.

"Our criminal justice system is more than equipped to handle terrorism cases while simultaneously protecting national security evidence and ensuring fundamental rights. The government has a wide range of broadly written federal laws at its disposal, and if federal prosecutors are convinced that detainees are guilty and too dangerous to release, it should have gathered enough untainted and admissible evidence by now to prosecute them under those laws. What is clear is that we cannot attempt to revive a fundamentally unsound system by merely 'tweaking' the violations of our most important principles in order to accommodate the Bush administration’s egregious torture policies."

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