Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Trial

How quickly we've moved down this road... Things that I was warning about as future possibilities a few weeks ago are already much more likely than they were then.

Meet Mohammad Munaf, a United States citizen who is facing the death penalty in Iraq. Munaf was working as the guide and translator for three Romanian journalists in Baghdad last year, when they were kidnapped and held for 55 days. was held for three days, and eventually all were released. So, the US military and Romanian government believe that he was involved in the kidnappings, and a US military official apparently demanded that he be found guilty and executed. And maybe he is guilty, but here's the rub:
He has never seen the evidence against him, nor has he been allowed to present
any evidence in his defense. Nevertheless, he has been convicted and sentenced
to death.
Pretty scary, eh? It gets worse. Scott Horton, who has spoken to the lawyers involved in the case, relates this story. Read this closely:

"Yesterday afternoon I spoke with one of Munaf's American lawyers, and in the evening I discussed the case with one of the Iraqi lawyers who handled it. The judge, he said, had at a prior hearing informed defense counsel that he had reviewed the entire file and had reached a decision to dismiss the charges. "There is no material evidence against your client," he was quoted as stating. When two US officers appeared at the trial date with the prisoner, they reacted with anger when told of the Court's decision – and made clear it was "unacceptable." One of these US officers purported to speak on behalf of the Romanian Embassy, which, he said "demanded the death penalty." (The Government of Romania has since stated both that it had no authorized representative at the hearing and that it did not demand the death penalty). They then insisted upon and got an ex parte meeting with the judge - from which the defendant and his lawyers were excluded. Afterwards an ashen-faced judge emerged, returned to his court and proceeded to sentence the American to death. No evidence was taken; no trial was conducted. The sentence was entered on the basis of a demand by the two American officers that their fellow countryman be put to death."

So, um, not to sound alarmist or anything, but HOLY FUCKING SHIT!! Do you remember those naive salad days a few weeks ago, when I asked why conservatives weren't more alarmed by the possibility that one day the military might be able to have US citizens tried without being able to even see the evidence against them, or respond to it, and maybe even have them put to death. I thought that was pretty unlikely, but worth considering. I'm hoping it's still unlikely, and I'm hoping this story is just a load of nonsense, because the road to military tyranny just keeps getting shorter and shorter.

(Note: You've also got to love that Horton posts the story in his well-respected Balkanization blog, and within minutes, an aparatchik signs on to post the party-line: If the US can't do whatever it wants to, terrorists will kill Americans!!! Just keep repeating that, okay?)

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