Lawyers: Gitmo Deck Stacked Against Defense

As the arraignment process got underway today in the first trial by a Guantanamo Bay military tribunal of a terrorism suspect, defense counsel complained that the deck was stacked against the suspect.

For one thing, defense lawyers said, they only heard the previous evening from prosecutors of a possible witness whose account could help their client, 21-year-old Omar Khadr, reports the New York Times. A Canadian Muslim, he has been held by the U.S. since he was arrested in Afghanistan at age 15. The only survivor in his unit of a firefight with American soldiers, he is accused of throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier.

As discussed in an earlier ABAJournal.com post, the private Canadian lawyer that Khadr wants to represent him has been barred from the arraignment. But his Pentagon-appointed lead lawyer, U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. William C. Kuebler, aggravated the judge hearing the case, U.S. Army Col. Peter E. Brownback III, by noting that constitutional challenges to the tribunal had been banned at this point and referring to an apparent comment by Brownback, in chambers, that he had “taken a lot of heat” after a June ruling that stalled the tribunal’s effort to hear cases, the Times reports.

It wasn’t clear whether the ruling in question was Brownback’s decision to dismiss Khadr’s case, because he had, at that point, not been designated an unlawful enemy combatant.

Replied a “clearly irritated” Brownback, “I never said anyone who had any influence over me said anything,” recounts the Times.

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