Guantánamo Detainees Charged With 9/11 Crimes Offer To Plead Guilty

December 8, 2008 12:00 am

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ACLU Says Pleas Following Torture Reflect Tainted System

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GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba – The Guantánamo detainees charged with crimes related to the 9/11 attacks offered to plead guilty today before a military commission. The American Civil Liberties Union's John Adams Project, a partnership with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NADCL), has sponsored expert civilian counsel who are assisting the under-resourced military defense counsel for these detainees.

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU who is at Guantánamo observing the proceedings:

"No one should be surprised that a system that allows for serial torture and abuse and holds detainees for years without charging them or granting them access to attorneys has led the defendants to capitulate and seek to plead guilty. It's abundantly clear that a coerced guilty plea resulting from years of torture and abuse would never have been accepted in a legitimate court and should not be accepted here. Anyone who believes that this is a victory for American justice is sadly mistaken. History will show that any guilty pleas in these proceedings were the result of an inhumane, unjust process designed to achieve a foregone conclusion.

"Ironically, the one open legal question is whether or not entering guilty pleas under these flawed military commissions will allow the government to seek the death penalty. The fact that it's still unclear whether the government can secure death sentences through guilty pleas just underscores how fundamentally flawed the process was from the outset.

"This has been a legal farce from the beginning to the bitter end. And perhaps most cynically, this flawed process will dump three guilty pleas into the lap of President Obama's new Justice Department along with the question of whether or not any of these defendants are competent to offer these pleas after years of torture and abuse."

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