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Flawed justice for terror suspects

By BENJAMIN G. DAVIS, Toledo Blade

On Sept. 11, 2001, I lost a friend from high school who had gone to the World Trade Center in New York City that day to make a speech. I cannot imagine the depth of the pain suffered by the families of the 9/11 victims.

I share their frustration with the delays in bringing the alleged perpetrators of the attacks to justice. Most recently, those delays have afflicted the military commission at Guantanomo Bay, Cuba, that is trying the reputed mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four associates for war crimes.

Both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations and Congress bear much of the blame for these delays. Starting just five days after 9/11, President Bush made a fateful departure from American values and law. He created secret prisons and a torture regime of "black" interrogation sites.

He ordered suspects to be held outside the law around the world and established military commissions that were structured to guarantee convictions, even based on evidence from torture. He led us into a war with Iraq on false pretenses. These matters diverted vital time and energy, and used up precious human and other resources.

Both parties in Congress abdicated their responsibility to deliberate reasonably about these issues. Lawmakers who sought re-election feared that voters would see them as weak on terrorism.

In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Mr. Bush's plan for military commissions and affirmed that the Geneva Conventions applied to the "war on terror." The White House and Congress quickly cobbled together a flawed new commission process that did not rely either on civilian courts or military courts-martial.

Two years later, the high court took detainees at Guantanamo out of the constitutional and legal limbo into which they had been deliberately thrust while in U.S. custody and control. Justices ruled that Guantanamo inmates had the constitutional right to challenge their detentions in court.

When President Obama took office in 2009, it appeared that at least minimum standards of justice would guide these proceedings. But the Obama Administration caved in to pressure from Congress and decided not to try the detainees in civilian federal courts, as hundreds of other terrorists had been tried.

Instead, a third version of military commissions went into effect. These commissions are deeply flawed for many reasons, such as unlawful influence by civilian and military leaders.

Reporting on the military commission trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his alleged accomplices must be of the highest caliber. Defendants' lawyers appear indifferent about soliciting public sympathy for their clients, but will bring forward every aspect of the torture reportedly done to these detainees in Americans' name.

Lawyers seek to compel the testimony of key alleged protagonists of torture, such as former CIA officials, before the military commissions. They want to win freedom for their clients, of course, but also to highlight the basic, fatal flaws of the military commission system.

As the prosecution of this death-penalty case proceeds, the military judge and lawyers will no doubt play their roles with great loyalty to the best traditions of our legal system. But they must fly without instruments, because inevitable doubts will remain about the extent to which normal constitutional and legal precedents from civilian courts and courts-martial apply to the commission process.

Justice is neither a euphemism nor a synonym for vengeance. Americans should not consider evidence of torture at the trial through the eyes of a lynch mob, but rather should display a lucid understanding of what fateful decisions by Presidents Bush and Obama and by Congress have cost us and will cost us in the future. The judge must not shield official wrongdoing from Americans.

Former Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, the chief prosecutor at the Nazi war crimes trials at Nuremberg, said that you cannot have judicial forms without judicial norms. A proper, accountable judicial process must allow the defendant, by marshaling appropriate evidence, the possibility of acquittal.

The quality of justice at the military tribunals will be tested not by their convictions, but by their acquittals.

Benjamin G. Davis is an associate professor at the University of Toledo College of Law.

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The answer is both Yes & No requiring a social principle for measurement.   A Social principle must be inclusive, universal and infinite in its moral center, re establishing moral symmetry through social centers.  For example, should the U.S. have prosecuted Nazis, Fascists, War criminals for their crimes in light of the fact that the Allied Powers themselves committed War crimes.  The answer is not either No prosecution, or just Nuremberg Nazi trials, but the prosecution of all War criminals, especially those who committed massacres against whole cities and civilians, particularly the nuclear attack on civilians cities in Japan, or the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo.

The Nuremberg principles against aggression and War crimes against Humanity were supposed to be applied to all aggressors, including the Allied victors in future histories.   It is clear that Amerika and its fascist foreign policies have been committing War crimes since the Nuremberg principles became enshrined within the U.N. Charter, from Korea, Vietnam, many post colonial countries, to Iraq and permanent wars of today.   Yet he West and its corrupt, criminals have co opted, the U.N., Western nations, even Human right organizations in their singular, duplicitous, application of inernational laws and even the Constitutionl laws at home.  Does Obama and his corrupt officials, War criminals even have the right to prosecute African War criminals, while White, Western Fascists are free to overthrow regimes, commit war crimes around the world, especially the new Drone policies, COMPLETELY ILLEGAL, AND ACTS OF AGGRESSION for which Obama, the War criminal should be prosecuted, not re elected.

The answer is Yes, all counter terrorism is a act of terrorism, just as the State Terrorism of the West is aimed against civilians, and therefore must be prosecuted.   When Bush and Obama allowed its Iraqi puppet state to massacre civilians, torture included, during their occupation and aggression,  they were complicit as Obama was complicit in enabling obstruction against Justice,  against Bush officials for their war crimes, going so far as to blackmail, threaten Spanish judicial officials from prosecuting Bush.   If international laws are   to have any meaning, Blair, Bush, Israeli, Nato and  Obama officials should be prosecuted alongside counter terrorists.   The only difference is that the counter terrorists still would have the high ground above Western state sponsored Terrorism, because they could claim  they were retaliating for the fascist, terrorist,  foreign policies of the West.  Of course military resistance to Westen Fascist forces, as in Afghanistan would be justified, as it was in IRAQ, because neither was sanctioned by the U.N. and the right of nations to defend themselves from aggression.

Should OBAMA justify AN ISRAELI , AMERIKAN ATTACK AGAINST SYRIA , IRAN, as they did against Libya?   IT WOULD BE FURTHER REASONS WHY THE WORLD HATE'S AMERIKA'S "FREEDOM", CODE WORD FOR FASCIST CRIMINAL FOREIGN POLCIES. BUSH, BLAIR, OBAMA, EVEN HENRY KISSINGER SHOULDBE HAULED IN FRONT OF THE INTERNATIONAL COURTS FOR THEIR AGGRESSION, INCLUDING VIETNAM, AND MANY OTHER PLACES. THEN THIS CYCLE OF STATE TERRORISM AND COUNTER TERRORISM would be prosecuted universally, as inclusive standards, not DUPLICITOUS WESTERN STANDARDS.   One cannot trust Western officials and  any of their  claims to reality, especially War, when corporations routinely lie alongside the War criminals as they have done repeatedly.   If Western officials routinely lie about War, they can also lie, like HILLARY CLINTON about who is committing  atrocities, like the HOULA MASSACRE perpetrated by Western thugs:

“Officials say” journalism

Yet again, the American media misleads by uncritically printing unverified, false claims from the U.S. military


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