Sunday, October 15, 2006

Another reason the Military Commissions Act is bad

The National Post, a Canadian newspaper, reported today on a US military gag order placed on a lawyer, Lt.-Col. Colby Vokey, for Canadian citizen Omar Khadr, who has been in Guantanamo since he was 15, in 2002. He is now 20 years old. Khadr charges that he has "been beaten, held for long periods in stress positions and locked up in solitary confinement for months at a time."

So why the gag order? Well, it turns out that the paralegal, St. Heather Cerveny, working with his lawyer, overheard a conversation by Guantanamo guards in which they bragged about striking or beating detainees, apparently as a regular practice. The Post interviewed Vokey, Cerney, and Muneer Ahmad, a criminal defense lawyer also working on behalf of Khadr.
President George W. Bush is expected to sign a new bill next week on the special military commission system for detainees in the war on terror held at the U.S. base in Cuba.
"This is more than a coincidence," said Ahmad. "Sgt. Cerveny's sworn statement reveals exactly what is wrong with the new law. It permits the abuse of detainees to continue, it immunizes wrongdoers and it strips the courts of the power to ever hear complaints of such abuse.
"The president wants us to believe there never was abuse at Guantanamo and that there isn't abuse now. Sgt. Cerveny's statement shows that just isn't true."
There's good reason the American Bar Association opposed the Military Commissions Act.

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