21 February 2004

U.S. Agrees to Free 5 Britons, Dane From Guantanamo Jail

Peter Goldsmith, Britain's attorney general, has been negotiating with lawyers at the White House and the Pentagon for nearly a year seeking procedures for the tribunals that would be recognized as fair by British standards. Straw said at a news conference that 'some progress' had been made in these talks but that Goldsmith still believed the tribunals 'as presently constituted would not provide the type of process which we would afford British nationals.'

British and U.S. officials have refused to disclose the points in dispute. But one official said on condition of anonymity that Goldsmith had questions about the kind of evidence that might be admissible before the tribunal. British legal authorities say the fact that the men have been interrogated without their attorneys present and that some of the evidence is secret would virtually rule out any chance of a successful prosecution in Britain.

What a pity our own attorney-general did not notice what Britain's attorney-general noticed. Or what Lord Steyn noticed. Or what Major Mori noticed. Or what he himself said about the retropsective prosecution of war crimes in 1988.

British legal experts have been nearly unanimous in condemning the Guantanamo detentions and demanding the return of the prisoners. Justice Johan Steyn, one of Britain's most senior judges, gave a speech last fall condemning Camp Delta as 'a monstrous failure of justice.' He said the detainees were 'beyond the rule of law, beyond the protection of any courts and at the mercy of the victors.'"

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