Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Eyes Wide Shut

The Journal always provides me such entertainment--two in one day with "The Tribunal Fuss" in Review & Outlook (WSJ, 9/01/06).

The title of this article says it all. It's nuthin' but a "fuss", demoting the issue of second-party testimony by CIA interrogators
to a churlish childish conundrum (I wanted to be alliterative.)

The administration says information gotten from interrogations of alleged 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohamed (KSM) by the CIA should be given in court by his interrogators, rather than putting KSM on the stand himself.

As I've written before, it would be refreshing and wildly democratic to hear anything about KSM, who has disappeared from the scene these long months. At this point, any testimony from KSM would be welcomed--even if it were ill-gotten.

But the article justifies keeping KSM out of court, claiming analogies to the practice of proxy testimony by referring to the Yugoslavia war crimes tribunal (ICTY), and its use of voice- and image-altering devices, so as not to "compromi(se) the right of defendents to face their accusers."

Maybe I'm missing something, but isn't this arguing for the very right the administration is trying to withhold--the "right of defendents to face their accusers", even if their countenances must be obscured? I mean, it's not like we don't all know who KSM is, right? And it is his testimony, yes?

Further, the administration proposes to give only defense attorneys access to classified information; the accused are not considered trustworthy enough to be given the facts that can prove their innocence or guilt. This whole idea of tribunals is against the entire flow of U.S. legality and jurisprudence.

Simply: why don't we trust our legal system anymore? If a person is accused of terrorism, then that person is a criminal, and should be tried in a court of law, with proper representation and dialog with that counsel. Let's start with KSM since he's the worst of the worst, or so we are told. Let's prove it beyond reasonable doubt. Surely his alleged criminality will be revealed in court.

I wonder how the author or readers of this article would feel about these rules of evidence if they were being charged with terrorism? Would they be more concerned with state secrecy, or a fair and impartial trial?



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