Abrupt Dismissal Of Judge Is More Evidence Of Military Commissions' Illegitimacy

May 30, 2008 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – Providing more evidence of the illegitimacy of the Bush administration’s fundamentally flawed military commission system, the Pentagon abruptly dismissed judge Army Col. Peter Brownback without explanation late yesterday from the case of Omar Khadr, a Canadian detainee. According to Khadr’s lawyer, Navy Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler, the timing of the judge’s removal was suspicious because Brownback had recently threatened to suspend the case if prosecutors refused to hand over important records about Khadr’s confinement to the defense lawyers. Just last week, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the legal system under which Khadr was detained and prosecuted at Guantánamo violated international law.

The following can be attributed to Jamil Dakwar, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union Human Rights Program:

“While this decision is not surprising, it once again demonstrates the inherent flaws in a system that lacks impartiality and is subject to political influence. The message of the Pentagon’s decision seems to be that it is unwilling to let judges exercise independence if it means a ruling against the government. This decision comes just days before arraignments in the cases of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other detainees which their military defense lawyers have already charged were timed based on political considerations. American justice will be better served if these military commissions are abandoned altogether, and Guantánamo detainees are prosecuted in a real court – be it a federal criminal court or a traditional military court.”

The ACLU, in partnership with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), has offered to represent Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the four other detainees who are scheduled to be arraigned on June 5, as part of the John Adams Project, which has been created to provide legal teams to represent Guantánamo detainees.

For more information on the ACLU and NACDL’s John Adams Project, see: www.aclu.org

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