The Bush administration’s plan to use military tribunals to try some detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has been attacked by military defense lawyers participating in the process, reports the New York Times. The government once expected that the first prisoners to go before a tribunal would plead guilty in an agreement to reduce jail time. But the five military lawyers assigned to defend the first group of prisoners have denounced the tribunal system as inherently unfair and rigged.
The Times says an audience at England’s Oxford University was stunned last month when two of the defense lawyers said the tribunals were not capable of producing a fair and just result. Murray Wesson, a Rhodes Scholar from South Africa, wrote on his Web log: “What I was unprepared for, given that these were, after all, military lawyers, was how critical of the process they were. Indeed, they went so far as to describe the tribunals as `fundamentally flawed’ and insinuated that they would not amount to fair trials.” The day before the event, another defense lawyer said at a news conference, “The system is not set up to provide even the appearance of a fair trial.”