Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Kangaroo court

The US has held its first military tribunal for an "enemy combatant" at Guantanamo. Salim Ahmed Hamdan of Yemen is being "tried" on charges of conspiracy to commit murder before a panel of five senior US military officers. He has no right to challenge his "judges" for pre-existing bias, no right to select his own counsel, no right against self-incrimination, and no real right of appeal. The rules of evidence permit hearsay and secret evidence, some of which he will have no right to hear, let alone challenge. This is not a fair process; it is a kangaroo court, dispensing victor's justice.

This is destroying America in order to save it. It compromises one of America's essential values: the right to a fair trial. The only way to avoid this compromise is to prosecute terrorism suspects in an ordinary court, in front of an ordinary judge, with ordinary rules of evidence. Otherwise, by forcing America to betray the very values that make it great, the terrorists will win.