Al Qaeda Prisoners in for the Long Haul

The capital charges placed on six Al Qaeda members for their possible roles in September 11 are facing complications in the justice system. The detainees must be given trial lawyers and the same process as Americans during trial. However, Chief Military Defense Lawyer Col. Steven David said he cannot get six lawyers for the cases. Can you imagine trying to recruit lawyers to represent these guys? Not an easy task.

To add to the chaos, the question of the use of waterboarding and other forms of torture on the suspects is still up in the air, making for six cases that haven’t even come close to starting yet.

“You’re asking me to tell you how we’re going to get to a place we’ve never been, with a map I don’t have,” Colonel David said.

Part of this increased confusion comes from the fact that the Bush Administration chose to prosecute the men in military commission court rather than civilian court, using different rules and untested systems. Even the regulation of the death penalty, which is what the court is seeking for the Guantanamo detainees, is uncertain.

One way some think the defense might go about the cases is to turn it around on the government, and placing blame on them for the waterboarding and harmful interrogation techniques.

If the Pentagon approves the punishment of the death penalty for the prisoners, the legal battle will only grow larger and more time consuming. Don’t expect any results in the near future.

“It hasn’t been able to get over the small humps yet,” Miami lawyer Neal Sonnett said, “and this is a mountain.”

Hurdles Seen as Capital Charges Are Filed in 9/11 Case – [NY Times]


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