The New York Times has a great piece today on sham justice in Iraq. The US military now holds almost twice as many Iraqi detainees as it did when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke. The U.S. set up a Central Criminal Court in Baghdad that usually has a Soviet-like disregard for due process. The system reduces paperwork burdens by routinely excluding defense lawyers. The Times noted, “ One American lawyer said that in 100 cases he handled, not one defense lawyer had introduced evidence or witnesses.” The U.S. military is heavily involved in prosecutions – but even when an Iraqi judge finds a defendant not guilty, the U.S. sometimes refuses to release him.
What is the standard used for holding Iraqis (for as long as two years)?
The Times reported:
The military conducts reviews in the camps to screen detainees for release. Many have been swept up at the scene of bombings or other violence, and the detention camp boards have recommended releasing as many as 60 percent of the detainees whose cases they reviewed.
Officials have sought to tighten the evidentiary standards used in deciding whether to detain suspects. Last year, for example, Maj. Gen. William H.Brandenburg, then the task force commander, became concerned about a swipe test that soldiers used on suspects to detect gunpowder. The test was so unreliable that cigarette lighter residue and even a common hand lotion would register as gunpowder.
The Iraqi courts are sentencing people to hanging based on often flimsy evidence. Iraqi courts have relied on tortured confessions in some cases.
Remember how Bush brags about having brought the “Rule of Law” to Iraq? Remember that Bush also brags about the “Rule of Law” in America.
Rather than bringing American-style justice to Iraq, Bush is more likely to bring Iraqi-style justice to America. The Military Commissions Act is a harbinger of things to come.