The U.S. military admitted for the first time last week that one of the prisoners held without charges for more than two years at the base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was never an al Qaeda or Taliban fighter and should be immediately released.
The prisoner was ordered to be set free by the military's new "combatant status review tribunal" which is meant to provide a fair hearing for detainees. But commentator Connie Rice has been monitoring the tribunal, and she's come up with another of her Top 10 lists — this time: Top 10 Signs You Might Not Get a Fair Trial in Guantanamo.
(10.) Your lawyer's boss is the prosecutor.
"Your lawyer's next promotion will be decided by the man trying to get you executed — this would be like Marcia Clarke being Johnnie Cochran's boss," Rice says. "So much for zealous representation and the right to counsel."
(9.) Your Arabic translator — who was hired by the prosecution — doesn't speak your dialect.
"And you just met him the day before your trial, which means your lawyer has not been able to talk to you, either. Due process? Forget about it in Guantanamo."
(8.) Four of the five judges in your case have never seen the inside a law school.
"This is like being wheeled in for a quintuple bypass to find Jerry Springer holding the scalpel."
(7.) Two of your judges have just returned from heated battles in Afghanistan fighting a resurgent Taliban.
"This is like being wheeled in for a quintuple bypass to find Ted Bundy holding the scalpel."
(6.) The president of the United States has publicly condemned you as a terrorist and enemy combatant, but the judges who report to this commander-in-chief advise you of your presumption of innocence.
"The president's declaration is like the Chief Justice declaring you guilty," Rice says. "And if there were any presumption of innocence, you'd have had a bail hearing. We must have missed them."
(5.) Your tribunal was last used more than 50 years ago when it resulted in summary executions without meaningful appeals.
"And there was no playbook 50 years ago either, which is why your judges are clueless as to how your tribunal should proceed," Rice says. "And in 2004, there still will be no meaningful appeal."
(4.) The people you must appeal your conviction to are the same people who prosecuted you.
"This would be like OJ Simpson appealing to Chris Darden for review of the conviction OJ should have received."
(3.) When your lawyer asks the judge if he's ever read the Geneva Convention, the judge says no.
"This would be like you asking your doctor if she's ever read Gray's Anatomy — and she says no, and asks if Oprah is going to make into a movie," Rice says. "These Guantanamo tribunals have to apply the Geneva Conventions, U.S. military law, international and other human rights law — and these judges have never even walked by a law school. Fair trial? Forget about it. You're in trouble..."
(2.) When your lawyer asks one of your judges what's the jurisdiction of the court to hold your tribunal, and the judge looks dumbstruck.
"This is like asking a pilot for his FAA clearance and flight plan, and him looking at you like you've grown a second head," Rice says. "Without jurisdiction, a court is powerless to hear the case. This is so basic."
(1.) The general who decides your motion to disqualify all five of your judges as incompetent and conflicted is the same man who picked them in the first place.