The trials taking place at Guantanamo are pretty much a sham, a mockery, designed to produce guilty verdicts at all costs. Scott Horton describes them as a theater of the absurd and thinks that they may on the verge of collapse.
He describes what has happened, including that conversations that defense lawyers were having with their clients were being monitored. He also says that the Obama administration and its military spokespeople have been consistently lying about what was going on, retreating only when their lies were exposed.
Back in 2009, the Obama Administration inherited a process that verged on being an international laughingstock. Political appointees had manipulated almost every step of the process, pressing to remove any doubt from the outcome. Ultimately, the thin veneer of legitimacy that remained was stripped away when military lawyers — both prosecutors and defense counsel — joined together to expose the political circus.
Team Obama promised to right this system. An interagency review process led to agreement on a significant number of reforms, and Brigadier General Mark Martins, the new chief prosecutor, made the rounds of law schools and bar associations, talking about the government’s intention to restore basic norms of justice to the process. He was persuasive, and even skeptics began to acknowledge that the proceedings had been set back on the path to respectability.
Today, however, that effort is a shambles. The military-commissions process teeters for the third time on the brink of collapse, thanks to the ham-handed snooping and manipulations of the intelligence community.
Military prosecutors appear to be blameless in the current controversy, and have acquitted themselves professionally throughout. The CIA is quite another story. Senior officials (including one now in line to head the clandestine service) destroyed critical evidence involving some of the prisoners out of fear that it might lead to the indictment and prosecution of intelligence officers.
The CIA claims it is trying to avoid the disclosure of classified evidence, but many outside observers see little more than censorship of facts that make the CIA look bad.
Meanwhile a new report from ProPublica says that email communications of lawyers with their clients have also been monitored.