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U.S. Military to Seek Death Penalty in Gitmo's Kangaroo Court

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As the New York Times reported yesterday, "Military prosecutors have decided to seek the death penalty for six Guantanamo detainees who are to be charged with central roles in the Sept. 11 terror attacks."

If anyone deserves harsh punishment, it's the people responsible for 9/11. But those are my emotions talking. Justice is supposed to be a sober matter, not an emotional one.

I have long held that the death penalty is about revenge, not justice. And, in the hands of the corrupt and biased U.S. military tribunal system at Guantanamo, it's of particular concern for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the prospect that this is likely to fuel more terrorism against the U.S. Besides that, it's just wrong.

The world is watching, and much of the world disapproves of the way we're handling things in Guantanamo.

According to an article published today in the British newspaper The Independent:
The decision to use Mohammed and the others as guinea-pigs in a constitutionally dubious legal proceeding is likely to trigger a firestorm of anti-American sentiment in the Islamic world and spark a fractious domestic debate in an already highly charged presidential election year.

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"What we are looking at is a series of show trials by the Bush administration that are really devoid of any due process considerations," said Vincent Warren, the executive director head of Centre for Constitutional Rights, which represents many Guantanamo detainees. "Rather than playing politics the Bush administration should be seeking speedy and fair trials," he said. "These are trials that are going to be based on torture as confessions as well as secret evidence. There is no way that this can be said to be fair especially as the death penalty could be an outcome."

While few doubts have been raised, domestically or internationally, about the men's involvement in the attacks on New York and Washington, just about everything else about their treatment has been bitterly contested and is likely to continue to be contested, inside the courtroom and out. Everything is laden with potential controversy – the decision to try the six men together rather than individually, the proposed venue at Guantanamo Bay, where all six are being held, the threatened use of the death penalty, and perhaps the most controversial question of all: the admissibility of evidence gathered through waterboarding and other coercive techniques generally defined as torture.
It is said that a society can be judged by how it treats its prisoners. In the "war on terror", the world is judging us harshly -- and with good reason.

The U.S. used to stand for freedom. Now the world looks at us and sees a nation that tortures people, deprives them of their basic human rights and due process, and then executes them -- all while waving the American flag in one hand and the Bible in the other.

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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
 

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