From: Andrew Johnson
Date: 2006-08-03 00:50:16
www.miami.com/mld/mi… Posted on Wed, Aug. 02, 2006 MILITARY COURTS Bush seeks expanded military tribunal role The White House is seeking legislation that would allow people not affiliated with terrorism to be prosecuted in military commissions — with far fewer rights than afforded civilians. Washington Post Service WASHINGTON – A draft Bush administration plan for special military courts seeks to expand the reach and authority of such ”commissions” to include trials, for the first time, of people who are not al Qaeda members or the Taliban and are not directly involved in acts of international terrorism, according to officials familiar with the proposal plan. The plan, which would replace a military trial system ruled illegal by the Supreme Court in June, also allows the secretary of defense to add crimes at will to those under the military court’s jurisdiction. The two provisions would be likely to put more individuals than previously expected before military juries, officials and independent experts said. The draft proposed legislation, set to be discussed at two Senate hearings today, is controversial inside and outside the administration because defendants would be denied many protections guaranteed by the civilian and traditional military criminal justice systems. Under the proposed procedures, defendants would lack rights to confront accusers, exclude hearsay accusations, or bar evidence obtained through rough or coercive interrogations. They would not be guaranteed a public or speedy trial and would lack the right to choose their military counsel, who in turn would not be guaranteed equal access to evidence held by prosecutors. Detainees also would not be guaranteed the right to be present at their own trials, if their absence is deemed necessary to protect national security or individuals. An early draft of the new law prepared by civilian political appointees and leaked to the media last week has been modified in response to criticism from uniformed military lawyers. But the provisions allowing a future expansion of the courts to cover new crimes and more prisoners were retained, according to government officials who are familiar with the deliberations.