NEW YORK - The United States military has announced its intention to prosecute and seek the death penalty for six detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, despite a flawed military commissions system there that has yet to try a single case. The Bush administration’s military commissions have been riddled with ethical and legal challenges, including a 2006 Supreme Court decision that struck down the first version of the system as unconstitutional. Among other things, the commission proceedings allow the admission of coerced evidence that may have been obtained through practices condemned throughout the world as torture. Last week, CIA Director Michael Hayden confirmed that one of the men who will be tried, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was waterboarded by CIA agents during interrogations.
The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union:
“Those accused of planning the September 11 attacks should be brought to justice, but a credible trial is impossible under a flawed military commissions system lacking in basic due process protections and allowing for the admission of coerced testimony, possibly obtained through practices condemned throughout the world as torture. Questions of fairness and due process are always at play in death penalty cases, and this will be doubly true in any capital case involving high value detainees who have been tortured and held for years without access to counsel. The American legal system will be as much on trial in these cases as the actual detainees.”