Col. Lawrence J. Morris and other military prosecutors decided today to seek the death penalty for six Guantanamo Bay detainees accused of carrying-out the September 11th attacks. The WSJ Law Blog writes that in 2001 Morris favored a high-profile public trial for these suspects before the administration decided to interrogate them in secret. Seven years later, the notion of a public trial for these detainees raises new questions that would not have presented themselves at the time of their capture:
(1). Given the Supreme Court’s 2006 rebuke of the Guantanamo war-crimes system in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, will the process be logistically prepared to try a capital case and will it afford the defendants the level of constitutional rights required by that decision? I found across this quote while researching this issue and found it very apropos:
“We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well. We must summon such detachment and intellectual integrity to our task that this Trial will commend itself to posterity as fulfilling humanity’s aspirations to do justice.” Opening Statement of Justice Robert Jackson, The United States of America, The French Republic, The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and The Union of Soviet Socialist Republic v. Hermann Wilhelm Göring, et. al., (November 21, 1945).
(2). Given that the evidence against these suspects is shrouded in secrecy, how should the uninformed public assess whether or not justice was served by these tribunals? Should citizens automatically assume that a capital conviction is a victory against international terrorism?