Ironically, I was in because 40 members of the are being tried in military tribunals. Trying civilians in a military tribunal is against every law one can name (except in the US where we have the Military Commissions Act that contradicts international law and our own Constitution). While I was in to stand in solidarity with the families of the accused, I heard on the about six men being tried at Guantanamo for the crime against humanity that occurred here on 9-11.
I turned on the TV in my motel room just as a military officer was reading the charges against the six detainees and for a brief moment my heart skipped a beat with joy. I mistakenly believed that the officer was reading charges against BushCo: "killing civilians; destroying civilian property and committing acts of terrorism." My happiness that someone-anyone in our nation was taking his oath to "protect and defend our Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic" seriously was short-lived, though, as the pictures of the six accused flashed on the screen.
Although the case against , et al and the 40 members of the could not be more different, there are also some similarities. We all know that is accused of being the "mastermind of 9-11" (hey, wasn't that before it was ?), however very few Americans know about the case of the in .
It seems that the "crime" that the MB has committed in is winning too many seats in Parliament (as Independents as the MB is an outlawed organization in ) and in coalition could have been an effective opposition voice to who has been a puppet of American Imperialists since 1981. I heard many citizens in his country from cab drivers to tour guides derisively (and quietly) refer to Mubarak as "President for Life." Anyway, in an early morning raid over one year ago, 40 members of the MB were rounded up in tactics that reminded me of stories that my Iraqi friends have recounted: yelling soldiers bursting into their homes wearing riot gear and brandishing terrifying weapons; frightening women and children and hauling off the breadwinner to be swallowed by the depths of a prison in moves calculated to instill terror and suppress dissent.
After four civilian courts exonerated the accused, Mubarak had the prisoners transferred to a military prison and given a kangaroo court trial. The families are expecting a pre-determined guilty verdict that could carry strict sentences. And of course, George Bush, who is a paragon of virtue and respects "human rights and human dignity" ( interview, Feb 15th) has harshly condemned Mubarak and has threatened to withhold some American largesse ( is second only to in US aid) due to the gross violations of international law and human rights, right? Well, not exactly. While and Human Rights Watch, among others, has condemned the Egyptian government for this travesty, BushCo has been oddly <sarcasm> silent.
While I was in and advocating for human rights, I dared not make any judgment of an individual detainee's guilt or innocence. Although the MB 40 have been acquitted four times, I cannot presume to judge the "evidence" that I haven't seen, anyway. And although the confessions of the six that will be on trial for 9-11 were garnered through torture, I of course, cannot judge their guilt or innocence, because I have not seen (nor will see) the evidence against them. This is the inherent problem of military tribunals: they are neither transparent nor fair and there is almost always a foregone verdict. This secrecy is not fair to the victims either who deserve to know the "truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth," and rarely receive anything resembling "the truth."
How do these military tribunals in and Guantanamo affect us here in the US? Americans always receive fair and equal treatment under the law, right? Wrong! Madam Justice's fabled scales are heavily weighted to benefit the wealthy or the established ruling class. Ask any person of color or poor citizen here how the American justice system works for them. There is no place for secrecy or suppression of dissent in any free, open or democratic society. In allowing these military tribunals to continue the very cornerstone of human rights is being shattered.
One does not have to be clever or have a particularly vivid imagination to fear an even harsher police state in America where any of us can be rounded up, tortured, and tried for opposing the government. Detention centers are already being built.
Besides, for argument's sake, even if these military tribunals have absolutely no implication here in America, humans are being profoundly hurt by the policies of our allied governments that are dancing the "Totalitarian Two-step" and as MLK, Jr wrote from the Birmingham Jail:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.