Guantanamo Only Looks Like a Real Trial

Beneath surface lie fundamental questions about its fairness
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2008 7:41 AM CDT
Defendant Salim Hamdan watches as FBI agent Craig Donnachie testifies about his interrogations of Hamdan.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The first trial taking place at Guantanamo Bay has the look and feel of a real American court proceeding, but that appearance is in many ways just an illusion, writes William Glaberson in the New York Times. Secret evidence remains sealed in red folders, much of what is presented was obtained under harsh interrogations, the public is banned, and reporters chafing under restrictions were once told, "This is not America."

The trial of Osama bin Laden's driver, Salim Hamdan, "is, in a sense, two trials," writes Glaberson. "Mr. Hamdan is being tried on accusations of conspiracy and material support of terrorism. And the Bush administration’s military commission system itself is on trial." Noted one ACLU lawyer: “Where else in the world is someone being prosecuted for a crime who is already serving a life sentence and will continue to serve one if he’s acquitted?”