Click here to check the ultimate guide to learn how to leverage your PC and internet to make money online.
The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

House Bill Allows Coerced Testimony and Hearsay in Military Commissions

The National Defense Authorization Act, passed yesterday by the House of Representatives, includes a largely overlooked provision that modifies the Military

Elisa Mueller
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Oct 09, 2009

The National Defense Authorization Act, passed yesterday by the House of Representatives, includes a largely overlooked provision that modifies the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which allows the government to try certain terror suspects — now called “unprivileged enemy belligerents” instead of the Bush-era term, “unlawful enemy combatants” — in military proceedings rather than Article III federal courts. The purpose of using a special court is primarily to deny defendants some of the protections that federal courts provide, such as the right to exclude coerced testimony and hearsay.

As I’ve noted before, the vast majority of legal experts, including leading defense lawyers and many former prosecutors, appear to believe that suspected terrorists can be tried more successfully in regular civilian federal courts — which have prosecuted hundreds such cases since the 9/11 terror attacks, as opposed to just three convictions in eight years of military commissions. Still, the Obama administration and Congress have refused to let the commissions go. And while yesterday’s bill appears to make some improvements to their rules — such as ensuring that the military commissions actually have defense lawyers qualified to handle death-penalty cases, which they didn’t before — the commissions would still allow the admission of hearsay and coerced testimony so long as the judge thinks it’s reliable. It also allows for military trials of children.

Human rights advocates maintain that the whole process of trying people outside the normal justice system is illegitimate and counterproductive. As Human Rights Watch Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program director Joanne Mariner said yesterday: “Tinkering with the discredited military commissions system is not enough. Although the pending military commissions legislation makes important improvements on the Bush administration’s system, the commissions remain a substandard system of justice.”

Chris Anders, Senior Legislative Counsel for the ACLU, put it this way:

While the bill takes positive steps by restricting coerced and hearsay evidence and providing greater defense counsel resources, it still falls short of providing the due process required by the Constitution. The military commissions were created to circumvent the Constitution and result in quick convictions, not to achieve real justice.

Part of the problem is that even if the military commissions were fair to defendants, critics say that because of their tainted history — which includes the resignation of several prosecutors in protest — they won’t be perceived as fair to the rest of the world. What’s more, defense lawyers representing the detainees will likely challenge the courts’ constitutionality, delaying the resolution of these cases for many more years to come.

Elisa Mueller | Elisa Mueller was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to a mother who taught reading and a father who taught film. As a result, she spent an excessive amount of her childhood reading books and watching movies. She went to the University of Kansas for college, where she earned bachelor's degrees in English and journalism. She moved to New York City and worked for Entertainment Weekly magazine for ten years, visiting film sets all over the world.


EPA Administrator Addresses Concerns About Oil Spill Waste Management

At a hearing of the national oil spill commission today, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson addressed concerns about waste disposal from

EPA administrator defends allowing Florida to write its own water pollution rules

The EPA seal (Pic via The Environmental Protection Agency has come under fire for its decision to allow the state of Florida to write its own water pollution rules (known as “numeric nutrient criteria”). EPA Regional Administrator Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming is now firing back, writing that the Agency commends the state Department of Environmental Protection for its draft of a proposed standard. A host of environmental groups filed suit in 2008, seeking to compel the EPA to implement a strict set of water pollution standards in Florida, arguing that the state was in violation of the Clean Water Act.

E-Verify Mandate Begins Today

The Obama administration today begins implementation of a new mandate to require all federal contractors to check the legal status of their employees to confirm

EPA administrator fires back at critics in op-ed

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (Pic by USACEpublicaffairs, via Flickr) EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson penned a new op-ed for the Los Angeles Times , criticizing House Republicans desperately seeking to undermine the authority of the agency they have dubbed a “job killer.” Arguing that the environment affects red states and blue states alike, Jackson writes that “it is time for House Republicans to stop politicizing our air and water.” As head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Jackson has faced harsh criticism from House Republicans and GOP presidential candidates who say the agency’s regulations are an undue burden on businesses that have to cut jobs simply to comply with clean water and air rules. Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann  has pledged to end the EPA if she takes office. “Since the beginning of this year, Republicans in the House have averaged roughly a vote every day the chamber has been in session to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency and our nation’s environmental laws,” writes Jackson.

EPA administrator says federal nutrient criteria is a ‘myth’

In testimony given late last week, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said that false accusations about her agency’s numeric nutrient criteria to govern Florida waterways are proving to be a detriment to their implementation. # Testifying before the House Agriculture Committee, Jackson said her agency’s work was often “mischaracterized” and addressed several myths surrounding its work

EPA and California Near Deal on Fuel Efficiency Standards

Two weeks ago, the Obama administration raised fuel efficiency standards by an average of two miles per gallon -- a modest change that disappointed some

EPA: BP Has 24 Hours to Find a Less Toxic Chemical Dispersant

Thought the massive quantities of oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico were the only major threat to the country’s southeast coastal waters right now? Think

EPA announces hold on nutrient standards if Florida can come up with own criteria

The EPA announced today that it is now prepared to withdraw a portion of its proposed numeric nutrient criteria (a set of standards governing water pollution in inland waters) and delay the portion related to estuarine waters, to allow the state Department of Environmental Protection to develop its own criteria. # From a statement released by the EPA earlier today: # EPA recognizes that states have the primary role in establishing and implementing water quality standards for their waters. Therefore, EPA is prepared to withdraw the federal inland standards and delay the estuarine standards if FDEP adopts, and EPA approves, their own protective and scientifically sound numeric standards

EPA Chief Overruled Calif. Waiver, Too

The Washington Post reported in March that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson was overruled by the White House in setting an ozone standard. Now, documents

© Copyright 2022 The Washington Independent All Rights Reserved

Terms & Privacy |

Click here to check the ultimate guide to learn how to leverage your PC and internet to make money online.