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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

ACLU Will Monitor Guantanamo Bay Hearing

From aclu.org: The American Civil Liberties Union will be at Guantánamo Bay Thursday to monitor the military commission hearing of Canadian national Omar Ahmed Khadr. The proceeding follows months of disarray and uncertainty about the U.S. government’s system of prosecuting prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay without charges or trial. The ACLU is one of four organizations that have been granted status as human rights observers at the military commission proceedings and has observed the tribunals since they began in 2004.

“The Guantánamo proceedings must be changed so that they are consistent with constitutional and international law, and we will continue to do our part by monitoring them and documenting the problems,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “So far, the proceedings have failed miserably to uphold America’s commitment to due process and the rule of law.”

Khadr, now 21, was 15 years old when he was captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. He is the first detainee to face a military commission since June when charges against him and a Yemeni prisoner, Salim Hamdan, were thrown out by military judges who said the commission lacked proper jurisdictional authority to prosecute them. The military judges ruled that the two defendants had not been designated “unlawful enemy combatants” as required under the Military Commission Act signed into law by President Bush in October 2006.

The U.S. government appealed the dismissal of the cases, and the newly established U.S. Court of Military Commission Review – a panel of three military officers appointed by the Pentagon – reinstated the charges in September by deciding that the military commission judges have the authority to decide whether detainees should be deemed “unlawful” enemy combatants. Despite an appeal filed by Khadr’s lawyers with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the military judge in Khadr’s case, Col. Peter Brownback, will hear the case Thursday. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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