TOO MANY SECRETS….Time to rev up the secret trials:
President Bush designated six suspected al Qaeda terrorists as eligible for trial before military tribunals yesterday, bringing the United States to the brink of its first prosecution of enemy prisoners since the aftermath of World War II.
Government officials who announced the president’s action declined to name the six men, to describe the timeline for moving their cases forward or to say where they might be tried, though some officials said the site almost certainly will be the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
….The United States has turned to military tribunals to conduct the prosecutions in part because the proceedings can be held under extraordinary security, sometimes even with judges’ names withheld. The trials can be closed to the public when classified information is discussed, and, in contrast to federal criminal courts, the normal rules of evidence are relaxed. The rules generally favor the prosecution.
The government’s position, of course, is essentially that if we knew what they knew, we’d agree with this decision. However, over at the Volokh Conspiracy Philippe de Croy points out that the Bush administration’s track record of using secret information wisely has not been so good. “Sorry, fellas, but I?m fresh out of free passes,” he says.