Justice, Bush style

Not long ago, the New York Times called President George Bush “the worst president of the last century.” This may sound harsh, but there are reasons behind this. In addition to the dollar hitting rock-bottom, an unpopular war, and America’s devastated reputation abroad, Bush and his VP Dick Cheney are facing criticism for ignoring the fundamental judicial tenets of the American Constitution.

Bush has decided that, as president, he has the right to arrest people suspected of terrorist attacks on America and to hold these persons in a special prison, governed by special rules. Bush knew that he would never get away with such an aberration on the territory of the United States, so he built the prison on the US military base in Guantanmo, Cuba. What irony. There, just like on the other side of the fence, a suspect can be held for an unlimited length of time without a formal accusation and without a defense attorney. His fate is not decided not by a civic court, but by a special military “tribunal.”

In doing so, Bush ignored (and continues to ignore) the protests of the public, professionals, Transparency International and the American Supreme Court. As a gesture, Bush has finally allowed that each prisoner have access to a defense attorney from the American military, which may seem like letting a Nazi defend a Jew.

However, ideals can triumph over bad politics. William Kuebler, a 37-year-old attorney from the navy, was assigned to defend Omar Khadir, who was accused of lobbing a grenade at an American soldier in Afghanistan when he was 15 years old. After investigating not only the case of his client, but the entire system, Kuebler told the press that “the entire systém was thought up to mete out punishment without any kind of evidence,” and that “prosecutors obtained evidence directly from torture.” A growing number of his fellow advocates have since joined Kuebler in denouncing the system.

Believing that they are facing a rigged system, Kuebler and his colleagues adopted the tactic of delaying the trials by throwing in bureaucratic obstacles. Todate, not a single trial has taken place. Though nobody has been convicted, the accused remain in prison, some of them for up to seven years, all without trial.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. The upcoming presidential elections give us hope that America will embark on a new course and that the usurpation of power and the denial of rights of the accused by a president shall not be continued by his successor.

Martin Jan Stránský


The New Presencesummer 2008

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