Saturday

If they want to die, let them die.


It seems that advocates for terrorists held at Guantanamo want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to pick and choose parts of the civilian and military court systems in a manner most favorable to their cause. Unfortunately their cause seems to be the unconditional release of the 9/11 masterminds.

At least that is the picture the following article seems to paint (article excerpts in bold):

Guilty plea without trials for some detainees?
U.S. weighs proposal for Guantanamo inmates facing death penalty

By William Glaberson

The Obama administration is considering a change in the law for the military commissions at the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that would clear the way for detainees facing the death penalty to plead guilty without a full trial.

This is a good thing if true. If these murderers want to accept responsibility for their crimes without the expense and spectacle of a trial then I say let them.

The provision could permit military prosecutors to avoid airing the details of brutal interrogation techniques. It could also allow the five detainees who have been charged with the Sept. 11 attacks to achieve their stated goal of pleading guilty to gain what they have called martyrdom.

Notwithstanding the obvious bias of the author I believe it safe to assume that even if portions of the evidence were obtained with “enhanced interrogation” techniques the guilty pleas were not. But to read the above passage one might be mislead into thinking otherwise.

The proposal, in a draft of legislation that would be submitted to Congress, has not been publicly disclosed. It was circulated to officials under restrictions requiring secrecy. People who have read or been briefed on it said it had been presented to Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates by an administration task force on detention.

A short aside here, how is it that draft legislation that is allegedly secret keeps finding its way into the hands of the mainstream media? This reads more like a trial balloon than sensitive internal secrets. Either that or the administration has a serious leak that needs to be immediately addressed.

The proposal would ease what has come to be recognized as the government’s difficult task of prosecuting men who have confessed to acts of terrorism but whose cases present extraordinary challenges. Much of the evidence against the men accused in the Sept. 11 case, as well as against other detainees, is believed to have come from confessions they gave during intense interrogations at secret C.I.A. prisons. In any legal proceeding, the reliability of those statements would be challenged, making full trials difficult and drawing new political pressure over detainee treatment.

Having said all that, they are admitting guilt by pleading guilty. Why is this point downplayed while the interrogation methods take center stage?

Some experts on the military commissions said such a proposal would raise new questions about the fairness of a system created by the Bush administration that has been criticized as permitting shortcuts to assure convictions.

David Glazier, an associate professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who has written about the commission system, said: “This unfortunately strikes me as an effort to get rid of the problem in the easiest way possible, which is to have those people plead guilty and presumably be executed. But I think it’s going to lack international credibility.”


I fail to see how a guilty plea can lack credibility. There has to be at least a certain amount of circumstantial evidence for these men to have been suspects to begin with. That evidence coupled with their own admissions of guilt should be sufficient to lend credibility to the proceedings.

Even if the bulk of the evidence was obtained through harsh interrogations techniques there would have to be some reconciling of their statements with actual events to make them meaningful enough to be used against them in the first place.

Restated if what they said they did under interrogation did not match the evidence then investigators would have know they were lying. For example they claimed that they ordered buses loaded with explosives to be driven into the pentagon when we know that a plane was flown into the pentagon.

Obviously this is an oversimplification but investigators would have had evidence that they held back just for the purpose of validating statements.

Capital cases

The draft legislation includes other changes administration officials disclosed last month when President Obama said he would continue the controversial military commission system with changes that would increase detainees’ rights. It is not known whether the White House has approved the proposed death-penalty provision. A White House spokesman declined to comment.

The provision would follow a recommendation of military prosecutors to clarify what they view as an oversight in the 2006 law that created the commissions. The law did not make clear if guilty pleas would be permitted in capital cases. Federal civilian courts and courts in most states with capital-punishment laws permit such pleas.

But American military justice law, which is the model for the military commission rules, bars members of the armed services who are facing capital charges from pleading guilty. Partly to assure fairness when execution is possible, court-martial prosecutors are required to prove guilt in a trial even against service members who want to plead guilty.

They want to apply civilian law where it benefits them and retain military law when it benefits them. Basically they want to customize the system to allow terrorists rights and privileges that are not even afforded the average citizen. Not asking too much are they?

During a December tribunal proceeding in Guantánamo, the five detainees charged with coordinating the Sept. 11 attacks said they wanted to plead guilty. Military prosecutors argued that they should be permitted to do so. Defense lawyers argued that tribunals should follow American military law and bar the guilty pleas. The military judge has not yet made a decision.

9/11 suspects

Lawyers who were asked about the administration’s proposed change in recent days said it appeared to be intended for the Sept. 11 case.

“They are trying to give the 9/11 guys what they want: let them plead guilty and get the death penalty and not have to have a trial,” said Maj. David J. R. Frakt of the Air Force, a Guantánamo defense lawyer.

Why is this a problem? If a sane defendant in a capital case wanted to plead guilty in a US court he would be allowed to. Is the defense claiming that these subjects may be eligible for the insanity defense?

The military commission system has been effectively halted since January while the administration considers its options. The only death penalty case now before a military judge is the case against the five detainees charged as the planners of the Sept. 11 attack, including the self-proclaimed mastermind, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

It is not known how many detainees might eventually face death-penalty charges. Some lawyers say others may follow the lead of Mr. Mohammed and seek execution by trying to plead guilty.

Cmdr. Suzanne M. Lachelier, a Navy lawyer for one of the detainees in the Sept. 11 case, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, said of the Obama administration, “They’re encouraging martyrdom.”


Not so much. They are simply allowing the guilty to plead their conscience. It is their right to do so. If it were a case where there was absolutely no evidence linking them to the crime for which they are accused I might reconsider my position.

I have no desire to execute an innocent person, assist them with suicide or martyr them as the case may be. But it is my firm belief that these are not altar boys who got lost on their way to mass.

Jihad against America

The administration has not announced whether it will continue with the Sept. 11 case in the military commissions or charge some of the men in federal court. Officials involved in the process said that lawyers reviewing the case have said that federal-court charges against four of the men might be possible, but that the evidence might be too weak for a federal court case against one of the five, Walid Bin Attash, a veteran jihad fighter who was known as Khallad.

Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman, said no decisions had been made about where the men would be prosecuted. Mr. Boyd said it was premature to discuss any legislative proposals. But, he said, “As the president has said, the administration is working diligently to identify possible legislative amendments to the current military commission system.”

A bill presented to Congress seeking changes in the commissions could open a new debate about the system for trying terrorism suspects. The administration is expected to present a controversial proposal for indefinite detention inside the United States and is already in a standoff with Congress over financing for Mr. Obama’s plan to close the Guantánamo prison by January.

In the Sept. 11 case, the five detainees have seemed to be daring the United States to put them to death, expressing pride in their acts of what they call jihad against America, which they described as “the terrorist country,” and its allies, “the filthy Jews.”
In December, the military judge, Col. Stephen R. Henley, ordered written arguments from lawyers. “Can an accused plead guilty,” Colonel Henley asked, “to a capital offense at a military commission?”

That last paragraph sums it up nicely. They are proud of their acts; they are admitting guilt, professing their murderous acts with glee. Remorse seems to be the one trait they are conspicuously lacking.

The military prosecutors argued that Congress had a “clear intent” to permit guilty pleas in death-penalty cases at Guantánamo. They say that people who want to accept responsibility for their crime for whatever reason should be permitted to do so.
They also note that a detainee could be sentenced to death only after a unanimous vote by a panel of military officers.

Amen. Enough said.

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