Posted Wednesday, March 19, 2008, at 11:59 PM
Emily’s brief post raises several fascinating questions, which seem to me to warrant fleshing out. The key sentence is the following: "if the government executes these men [the 9/11 plotters] after the coercive interrogation (torture) some of them experienced and all the failings of the this-ride-only military tribunals set up to try them, the damage Guantanamo has done to the reputation of our justice system will be raised by a power of ten." But that specter, she writes may concentrate the mind. So "maybe the threat of the death penalty is the best hope that they will get some semblance of real due process."
So here are my questions—to Emily and to all:
1) Whatever people think of the death penalty, should the circumstances of these detainees’ interrogation ameliorate their sentences? I can see why we would want to suppress evidence obtained under duress. I’m not sure I see why being coercively interrogated—even tortured—lessens one's culpability for September 11, assuming that culpability can be proven without relying on evidence obtained improperly.
2) Are we really so confident that these tribunals are incapable of delivering a semblance of real due process? Are they really that different from other ad hoc tribunals countries have set up to deal with extraordinary international criminal trials? Nuremberg, after all, was a this-ride-only military tribunal and we think of it as a triumph of international justice. Do we really think fair trials are impossible under the Military Commissions Act and, if so, why?
3) What would "real due process" look like for these defendants at this time?