Bush Administration Smacked Back by Federal Court- Judges and Lawyers *CAN* See evidence agaisnt Gitmo PrisonersSomervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


 

Bush Administration Smacked Back by Federal Court- Judges and Lawyers *CAN* See evidence agaisnt Gitmo Prisoners
 


21 July 2007 at 8:54:17 AM
salon

Remember how, in the Lawless World of the Bush administration, they tried to prevent judges and lawyers from being able to see the evidence against the people on trial (well at military commissions court, anyway)? And people who have a respect for law and order wondered how, say, someone wrongly accused or picked up in the wrong place at the wrong time, would be able to be defended if their attorney couldn't even get the evidence against them! Well, a US Federal Appeals Court agrees.

When Guantanamo Bay detainees challenge their status as "enemy combatants", judges must review all the evidence, not just what the military chooses, a US federal appeals court ruled.

The court rejected the Bush administration's plan to limit what judges and the detainees' lawyers can review when considering whether the Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) acted appropriately.

"Counsel for a detainee has a 'need to know' the classified information relating to his client's case," the appeals court ruled. "The government may withhold from counsel, but not from the court, certain highly sensitive information."

The appeals court decision is likely to be considered by the Supreme Court as it decides whether detainees should have greater access to US civilian courts.

When detainees are brought before military tribunals, they are not allowed to have lawyers with them and the Pentagon decides what evidence to put forward. Unlike in criminal trials, there is no obligation for the government to turn over evidence that the defendant might be innocent. If the military reviewers determine a prisoner is an enemy combatant, he can challenge that designation in the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

During that appeal, government lawyers argued, federal judges have the authority only to review the evidence the Defence Department had chosen to put forward during the CSRT hearing.

Without all the information, the appeals court said, deciding whether the military reviewers acted appropriately would be like trying to figure out the value of a fraction without knowing both numbers.

"The court has resoundingly rejected the government's effort to control the record and to limit an investigation into the truth," said lawyer Sabin Willett, who argued the case.


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