What Does American Justice Guarantee Gitmo Defendants: The Great Writ, Or A Crock Of Shit?

Attorney Leonard C. Goodman writes about the deliberate government sabotaging of his client’s application for habeas corpus. The client, Shawali Khan, … well, I’ll let Goodman summarize the case. From Goodman’s post on In These Times:

My client, Shawali Khan, is an uneducated Afghan man who grew up on an orchard outside of Kandahar. In 2002, Khan was captured by Afghan warlords and turned over to the Americans. At that time, the U.S. government was paying bounties of about $10,000 to Afghans who turned in al-Qaeda fighters. No actual evidence or corroboration was required.

Khan was sent to Gitmo in 2003, based on the word of a single informant. At his habeas hearing in 2010, the government called no witnesses but merely introduced “intelligence reports” indicating that an unidentified Afghan informant had told an unidentified American intelligence officer that Khan was an al-Qaeda-linked insurgent.

Federal appellate courts have ruled in other Guantánamo cases that the government’s evidence must be presumed accurate, thus putting the burden on Khan’s volunteer lawyers to establish that the informant is unreliable. First we demanded the informant’s file to see how much he was paid and what his reputation was for truth telling. But the government said the file was not “reasonably” available. So we asked for the informant’s name so that our Afghan investigator could investigate. But the government refused to declassify the informant’s name.

And so it goes, from bad to worse to obscene. If you believe in the American system of justice as it was known before the “war on terror,” have yourself a stiff drink before you read the whole post. Oh, and there’s this tidbit, regarding defense requests for the government’s discovery regarding an inculpatory note allegedly found in Khan’s possession when Americans took custody of him (added: remember, Khan is illiterate):

The government’s “summary” [offered to the defense in lieu of the note, or a copy of the note, or even the actual text of the note, or even the full secret intelligence report on the note] of the secret intelligence report describing the missing handwritten note [allegedly taken from Khan when he was turned over to Americans, later “disappeared”] is still classified, but I can report that when, in April 2011, WikiLeaks released Khan’s official Pentagon file, it established that the government’s summary was false.

This simply will not do. The Obama administration’s process of “justice” for Guantánamo detainees is no better than, indeed, if possible, worse than the travesty of genuine justice put up by the George W. Bush administration. The “great writ” is, depending on which account you believe, over 800 years old, and now two presidents in the span of 12 years have seen fit to eviscerate it in cases where the defendants are alleged to be “terrorists.”

If this deterioration of the very basis of our legal system is not arrested, America is on a downhill path straight to Hell.

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