Al-Qaeda suspects can be tried before a military tribunal

Bush approves terror suspect trials

Is this decision to hold the proceedings in a military rather than a civilian court a prudent one? Will this lead to further anti-American sentiment and claims of hypocrisy? Will the defendants have a fair trial in this case, will due process still apply in the same manner? Does the average person even care if these men get a fair trial or not?

This is not meant to be read as another Bush-bashing thread. I am curious as to what this decision will mean and to how the situation will pan out. What are the main differences between a military trial and a civilian trial, in terms of accountability and due process? Will the defendants still have the right of council in defence? Will the press have access to the court transcripts?


To elaborate a little, Human Rights Watch had this to say on the usage of Military Commissions only a few short weeks ago:

Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper on U.S. Military Commissions

I started a thread where I posted my views: Military tribunals and there was also another, more recent, one: Bush to build Guantanamo Death Camp

I dont know if I count as the average person but I care, in fact I find it outrageous. This is an Australian citizen goddammit and if anyone is to try him it should be us not an American ‘military tribunal’ whatever that means.

After his recent visit to the US, our prime minister John Howard was asked if he had raised the subject of Hicks while there. He replied no as he didnt think it was ‘appropriate’. Just why it wasnt ‘appropriate’ to even raise the subject of one of his citizens held indefinitely without charge by a foreign power and subject to the death penalty he did not say. If an Australian citizen was was held in the same conditions by any other nation we would never hear the end of it. Instead we play the sycophantic toady routine, ever so willin’ to please.

While still somewhat contemptuous of International Law, this move is at least a step towards ceasing to be in violation of the Geneva Convention on POW’s.

Since their status as POW’s has not yet even been addressed, these military trials could be construed as the “competent tribunal” in Article 5:

However, should any sentence be passed upon them the US must be careful that the legal rights recognised by all “civilised people” are not violated:

I think the US will find it difficult to stop violating the GC within the next year, let alone sidestep the attacks by groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

I’m worried that the military trial will be to decide how guilty they are, rather than if they are guilty or not.

It is a pretty way for the US to make itself even more disliked around the Middle East.

Any trial of them is likely to be viewed with huge cynicism, wether open or not if it is held in the US.

They were taken into custody in Afghanistan, and that is where they should be tried.

As it stands it means that the US can abduct anyone it feels is acting against its interests and try them without independant representation.

They have not even been through an extradition process, and when you consider the hoops and jumps that the UK had to go through to try get hold of convicted IRA killers who had broken out of UK jails and run off to the US, it smacks of gross hypocrisy.

Those IRA killers used ‘political acts’ as a defence for their indescriminate planting of bombs in public places, and it took years to get them back, and in some cases we simply didn’t succeed. Maybe we should have the right to abduct them and put them on trial, along with anyone who tried to block their extradition since it was against the UK’s interests.

This was covered on BBC lunchtime news and on News 24. The tenor was anti-trial and very questioning about what the government was going to do about trial, sentence, execution etc…

The website covers it:

but does not seem quite so critical.

I predict that this will become another reason for people in Britain to hate Bush directly and dislike the USA more.

Can you imagine the furore if two US citizens were going to be tried in such a kangaroo court with the possibility of a death sentence at the end of it. People would be hanging ribbons on anything that would take them and Bush would be threatening to invade! (see threads on ICC)

What do we get from Blair- nothing.

Still leading the ‘BBC News 24’ news 24 hours later- interviews with family, criticisms of the process, extreme criticism of possible death sentences. All run over a background of the filmed earlier mistreatment of Gitmo inmates.