LIE DOWN WITH DOGS...
As an American, I don't even blanch at the notion of "confess-or-die" -- it's just routine law enforcement here. But apparently it's a bit too much even for the government of that great hero of the American right wing, Tony Blair:
The two British terrorist suspects facing a secret US military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay will be given a choice: plead guilty and accept a 20-year prison sentence, or be executed if found guilty.
American legal sources close to the process said that the prisoners' dilemma was intended to encourage maximum 'co-operation'.
The news comes as Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, prepares to urge US Secretary of State Colin Powell to repatriate the two Britons. He will say that they should face a fair trial here under English law. Backed by Home Secretary David Blunkett, Straw will make it clear that the Government opposes the death penalty and wants to see both men tried 'under normal judicial process'....
Apparently it's not just the death penalty that's making the government of Hero Blair go wobbly -- it's little details like this:
According to US legal and constitutional experts, the Final Rule, the regulations that will govern the military commissions, has rendered a fair trial almost impossible.
Among those representing the two British men in the United States is Michael Ratner, of the Centre for Constitutional Rights, who believes the tribunals are weighted in favour of securing guilt verdicts.
'The trial system in Guantanamo Bay allows a whole series of serious breaches of defendant rights that would mean that they could never come to trial in the US.
'First, it allows the wiretapping of attorney-client meetings, although those wiretaps cannot actually be used in evidence. Then there is the fact that the Pentagon "Appointing Authority" - probably US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - has the ability to remove a judge at any time without giving any reason.'
Among other concerns about the 50-page Final Rule, which was published by the Department of Defence last week for governing the trials, are:
· that rules of evidence are so broad that it is left at the discretion of the trial's presiding officer whether to allow any evidence he believes would be convincing to a 'reasonable person' and that that would appear to allow the admission of hearsay evidence; · that evidence can be admitted by telephone and by pseudonym; · that it is insisted that only security-screened civil attorneys be allowed to appear before the court and they can also be removed at any time....
Hey Tony -- due process, schmue process. Sorry, this is how we do things in America now. As a bumper sticker I saw recently put it: KILL 'EM ALL -- LET ALLAH SORT 'EM OUT.