Thursday, June 16, 2005


Bush League Justice

A lawyer will be appointed for you, but the prosecution won't let that lawyer see you until you've already agreed to plead guilty:
Commander Swift read a letter in which the chief prosecutor, Col. Fred Borch of the Army, wrote that he would ensure that a defense lawyer be given access to Mr. Hamdan and that "such access shall continue so long as we are engaged in pretrial negotiations."

Commander Swift said, "I was deeply troubled that to ensure that Mr. Hamdan would plead guilty as planned, the chief prosecutor's request came with a critical condition that the defense counsel was for the limited purpose of 'negotiating a guilty plea' to an unspecified offense and that Mr. Hamdan's access to counsel was conditioned on his willingness to negotiate such a plea."

General Hemingway testified that Commander Swift was mistaken and that, "in the first place, the chief defense counsel is the individual who appointed Lt. Cmdr. Swift to defend Mr. Hamdan, not the prosecutor."
(Source: New York Times Lawyer Says Military Tried to Coerce Detainee's Plea, June 16, 2005 [emphasis added.])
Note the clever use of irrelevant detail - Commander Swift didn't say he was appointed by the prosecutor, he said the prosecutor wouldn't let Commander Swift see Mr. Hamdan until after Mr. Hamdant agreed to plead guilty. There have been a number of false guilty pleas in recent years after coercive police interrogations. Remember the Central Park Jogger case? The actual rapist committed several other attacks while the prosecutors were busy convicting black youths later proved innocent by DNA evidence. We can't afford similar mistakes at Guantanamo that might allow dangerous terrorists roam free while possibly innocent folks rot in prison with their pictures prominently displayed on Al Qaida recruiting posters.


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