ABA President Expresses ‘Grave Concerns’ About Guantanamo Trials
Posted Mar 24, 2008 1:12 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
ABA President William H. Neukom is expressing "grave concerns" about coerced evidence, restrictions on lawyers and other aspects of the Guantanamo trial process.
In an op-ed released today, Neukom says American lawyers are “deeply troubled” by six Guantanamo death penalty cases involving alleged plotters in the Sept. 11 attacks. The column expresses concerns about:
--A ban on habeas review of the detainees’ cases.
--Restrictions on Guantanamo defense lawyers’ ability to meet confidentially with detainees and understaffing of the Guantanamo defense office.
--Rules that allow the admission of hearsay and coerced evidence, including confessions obtained through waterboarding.
Neukom refers to a letter sent to President Bush last month that offers ABA help devising standards for the trial process. The letter urges the president to make sure the detainees receive due process.
The ABA contends the trials should be governed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice and international treaty obligations. ABA standards governing defense counsel in death penalty cases should also be adopted at Guantanamo, according to Neukom. He urges the military to pair military lawyers for the detainees with civilian lawyers who have expertise in capital cases.
“Meeting the highest standards of justice will make a powerful statement to the world: No matter how deep our anger, America’s commitment to the rule of law stands strong. Suspects convicted through fair trials will be seen as criminals, not martyrs,” Neukom writes.