Since the Supreme Court's Hamdan ruling was issued, and the White House agreed to "revise" its legal procedures for holding detainees, Bush's lawyers have been crafting a proposal for Congress that would become the administration's new policy. To put it mildly, the first draft isn't encouraging.
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 members of al-Qaeda or the Taliban and are not directly involved in acts of international terrorism, according to officials familiar with the proposal.
The plan, which would replace a military trial system ruled illegal by the Supreme Court in June, would also allow 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.
Got that? The new-and-improved military commissions could consider charges against just about anyone, not for being a suspected terrorist, but for a list of offenses Donald Rumsfeld could write at his own discretion. The accused would not have the right to confront their accusers, or to exclude hearsay accusations, or to bar evidence obtained through torture. The right to a public trial, a speedy trial, and to choose your own military counsel would not apply. Indeed, the commission could try the accused without him or her even being there.
The Navy's top uniformed lawyer from 1997 to 2000 said the rules would evidently allow the government to tell a prisoner: "We know you're guilty. We can't tell you why, but there's a guy, we can't tell you who, who told us something. We can't tell you what, but you're guilty."
--Guest Post by Steve Benen, The Carpetbagger Report