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Hurdles at Guantanamo Bay

The Road to Justice at Guantánamo Bay

Outside my window I can see a faded poster hung in my neighbor's window that reads: "The America I Believe in Would Close Guantánamo Bay." The US military prison houses detainees who have been identified by the government as "enemy combatants" and is certainly controversial. Today, the New York Times reports on the hurdles to justice at the detention center.

In an effort to start the wheels of justice two months ago, military officials announced war crimes charges against six detainees of the Guantánamo Bay detention center for roles in the Sept. 11 attacks. The charges were part of an effort to accelerate the carriage of justice in a sluggish system which has yet to hold a single trial.

Despite the charges, military defense lawyers are in short supply, and two months later, not one of the six detainees has met his military lawyer. Trying the cases is especially complicated because they involve potential death penalties and claims of torture by interrogators — issues that could take months or longer to sort out. Though at Guantánamo, even simple cases without capital penalty issues are proceeding slowly. To see what's causing the slow down,


Guantánamo military defense lawyers maintain they are not given resources by the Pentagon to match the investigative capability of the military prosecution, who has access to the FBI, the CIA, and other agencies. One detainee under trial said, “History will record these trials as a scandal against you.”

A lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights said the charges (which seek the death penalty) against the six men charged with the 2001 attack are so unwieldy that defense teams for those cases will need months, if not years, to prepare, saying “there is no possibility that these cases are going to proceed to trial any time soon.”

Do you think it's reasonable to hold people classified as enemy combatants? Are the hurdles to quick trials another way to keep possibly dangerous individuals contained? Do you agree with the sign in the picture? Are you disgusted with the situation at Guantánamo Bay, or do you think it's an absolutely appropriate security measure?


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