Federal Court Rules Unconstitutional Guantánamo Trial Of Salim Hamdan Can Proceed

July 17, 2008 12:00 am

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Guantánamo Military Commissions Should Be Shut Down, Says ACLU

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NEW YORK – Despite acknowledging questions about the constitutionality of the Guantánamo military commission system, a D.C. federal district judge ruled today that the military trial of Yemeni national Salim Hamdan can proceed.

Judge James Robertson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said that any review of the fairness of Hamdan’s case should occur after his military trial and not before. Hamdan is accused of being Osama bin Laden’s driver.

The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project:

“It is unfortunate that this trial will go forward. As Judge Robertson noted, there are serious questions about the constitutionality of the rules under which Mr. Hamdan will be tried. It doesn’t make sense to conduct a trial under rules that are likely to be found unconstitutional later on. Proceeding with this trial now will only draw out a legal process that has taken far too long already, and further discredit a system that has been a disgrace from the start.

“Hamdan’s trial, like those of other Guantánamo detainees accused of war crimes, should take place in an ordinary federal court or in a traditional military court. The Guantánamo military commissions allow the government to rely on evidence that the defendant never sees, on hearsay, and on evidence obtained through torture. The commissions are completely inconsistent with the Constitution and should be shut down.”

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