Rights of the Accused and the President's Military Tribunal System

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In response to the September 11th attacks, President George W. Bush created an unprecedented Military Tribunals procedure outside of all known systems of justice which justifies the indefinite detention of alleged terrorists and so-called ‘unlawful enemy combatants.’ The Administration has argued that unlawful enemy combatants are not entitled to the statutory procedural guarantees and rights provided by civilian and military courts and given to prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions. Nonetheless, officials contend that the tribunals provide, in the words of the Geneva Convention, “indispensable judicial guarantees that are required by all civilized nations.” This study ascertains what these judicial guarantees are and why they are important by looking at both the traditional civilian and military judicial systems, and then contrasts them with the procedures currently employed by the Military Tribunals. The examination shows that the Military Tribunal System is an invalid substitute for other judicial systems due to its lack procedural and substantive safeguards for the accused.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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