[Ppnews] Report: Guantanamo Detainees Denied Witnesses

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Nov 17 08:37:18 EST 2006

Report: Gitmo Detainees Denied Witnesses

Friday November 17, 2006 7:16 AM


Associated Press Writer

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - The U.S. military called no witnesses, 
withheld evidence from detainees and usually reached a decision 
within a day as it determined that hundreds of men detained at 
Guantanamo Bay were ``enemy combatants,'' according to a new report.

The analysis of transcripts and records by two lawyers for Guantanamo 
detainees, aided by more than two dozen law students, found that 
hearings that determined whether a prisoner should remain in custody 
gave the accused little opportunity to contest allegations against him.

``These were not hearings. These were shams,'' said Mark Denbeaux, an 
attorney and Seton Hall University law professor who along with his 
son, Joshua, is the author of the report. They provided an advance 
copy of the report to The Associated Press late Thursday and planned 
to release it Friday on the Internet.

Their report, based on an analysis of records of military hearings of 
393 detainees, comes as the U.S. government seeks to severely 
restrict detainee access to civilian courts, arguing that the 
Combatant Status Review Tribunals should be their main legal recourse.

Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, dismissed the 
findings as ``recycled allegations,'' and noted the tribunals gave 
each detainee an opportunity to contest their designation as an enemy 

``It is not a criminal trial and is not intended to determine guilt 
or innocence,'' Gordon said. ``Rather, it is an administrative 
process ... to confirm the status of enemy combatants detained at 
Guantanamo as part of the Global War on Terrorism.''

The military held Combatant Status Review Tribunals for 558 detainees 
at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay in southeast Cuba between 
July 2004 and January 2005 and found all but 38 were enemy 
combatants. Handcuffed detainees appeared before a panel of three 
officers with no defense attorney, only a military ``personal 

According to the report, the representatives said nothing in the 
hearings 14 percent of the time and made no ``substantive'' comments 
in 30 percent. In some cases, the representative even appeared to 
advocate the government's position, the report said.

The report is based on transcripts of tribunals that the government 
first released earlier this year in response to a Freedom of 
Information Act lawsuit filed by The Associated Press as well 
additional records provided by lawyers for 102 Guantanamo detainees.

Twenty-one first-year law students at Seton Hall University in 
Newark, N.J., analyzed the documents to create a database analyzed by 
eight second- and third-year students.

Among their findings:

- The government did not produce any witnesses in any hearing.

- The military denied all detainee requests to inspect the classified 
evidence against them.

- The military refused all requests for defense witnesses who were 
not detained at Guantanamo.

- In 74 percent of the cases, the government denied requests to call 
witnesses who were detained at the prison.

- In 91 percent of the hearings, the detainees did not present any evidence.

- In three cases, the panel found that the detainee was ``no longer 
an enemy combatant,'' but the military convened new tribunals that 
later found them to be enemy combatants.

``No American would ever consider this to be hearing,'' Denbeaux 
said. ``This is a show trial.''

The U.S. military now holds about 430 men at Guantanamo on suspicion 
of links to al-Qaida or the Taliban and holds Administrative Review 
Boards for them once a year to determine whether they should still be 
held, released or transferred to another country.

The Military Commissions Act, which President Bush signed on Oct. 17, 
strips all non-U.S. citizens held under suspicion of being an enemy 
combatant of their right to challenge their detention in civilian 
courts with petitions of habeas corpus.


On the Net:

Seton Hall University Law School: http://law.shu.edu

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