Washington, DC (June 5, 2008) -- In light of today’s developments at Guantanamo, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers issued the following statement criticizing the military commission arraignments of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Ramzi Binalshibh, Amar al-Baluchi, Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, Waleed bin Attash:
“It is regrettable that the accused are attempting to use these makeshift courts to become martyrs. It should not come as a surprise that these men, who have been held for years and subjected to physical and mental abuse, without formal charges and without access to counsel are refusing to participate in the process. This is not American justice,” said Carmen D. Hernandez, NACDL's president.
“The military commission proceedings do not in any way reflect, in the words of Attorney General Michael Mukasey, ‘the best traditions of the American legal system.’ To the contrary, over 200 years ago, patriotic Americans rejected incommunicado detentions without counsel, physical and mental abuse, forced confessions, secret evidence, secret witnesses and hearsay when they ratified the Bill of Rights. Guantanamo tarnishes us. Today’s developments do not reflect on the defense lawyers who stand ready to challenge the fundamental flaws of the military commission trial system and defend these men in the American tradition.”
NACDL, in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), formed the John Adams Project to provide expert teams of civilian death penalty lawyers to assistant the under-resourced military defense counsel assigned to Guantánamo detainees. NACDL and the ACLU will continue to vigilantly monitor these proceedings to expose their fundamental deficiencies.
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The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.