Friday, January 19, 2007


Pentagon Counsel: New Rules Convict Detainees ‘Based On Nothing But A Coerced Confession’

Following the guidelines Congress set down in the Military Commissions Act late last year, the Pentagon yesterday unveiled new rules for detainee trials “that could allow terror suspects to be convicted and perhaps executed using hearsay testimony and coerced statements.”

At a Pentagon briefing, Dan Dell’Orto, deputy to the Defense Department’s top counsel, said the new rules will “afford all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized people.” Dell’Orto’s view is not shared throughout the Pentagon’s counsels office. Col. Dwight H. Sullivan, the Chief Defense Counsel in the Office of Military Commissions, issued a statement yesterday criticizing the new rules:

The rules appear carefully crafted to ensure than an accused can be convicted — and possibly executed — based on nothing but a coerced confession. The rules would allow an accused to be executed based on nothing but hearsay.


The rules’ broad protections for classified information threaten to swallow everything. These rules are particularly scary coming in the wake of new Guantánamo classification guidelines that make even the prisoners’ own name classified as ‘SECRET.’

The rules violate the principle that the jury shouldn’t be allowed to see anything that the defendant can’t see. Witnesses can be shielded so that the defendant can’t see them, but the jury can.

Read Sullivan’s full statement here.

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