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Mumia Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts

Of Secret Trials in a Democracy

Short Version: mp3, 2.64 MBs, 3:18
Long Version: mp3, 3.85 MBs, 4:28

[Col. Recorded 4/25/04]

"Great empires do not die by murder, but by suicide."
— A.J. Toynbee, Historian (1889-1975)

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments today in the cases arising from the unlimited detentions of hundreds of foreigners (and several Americans) who have been ensconced in a modern-day Black Hole. For these men, there are no trials, no 'due process', and for many, no charges even. They are held under the thumb of the United States as "enemy combatants", who have no rights, nor any real opportunity to challenge their unlimited incarcerations.

Some have been subjected to physical torture, and many have been subjected to psychological torture, so much so that many have been forced to the brink of suicide.

For some of these men, the future holds the illusory prospect of 'military tribunals' under the auspices of the U.S. executive, a quasi-process where no judicial officers
will ever hear, or even have an opportunity to hear, any semblance of a defense against the charges.

What they really face are secret trials, where the president, or his designee, perhaps the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, makes the final decision, whether they shall live, or die.

It is difficult to predict what the Supreme Court will do, for they are a conservative Court, and it may be hard for them to vote against the Administration that they put
in place.

We shall soon see.

What may, or may not be decided, however, is the pivotal question of international law, or the laws of treaties signed by the United States and other nation-states. Under the U.S. Constitution, once a treaty is signed, and ratified by the Congress, it becomes a part of the "Supreme Law of the Land."

In 1992, the U.S. ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); it thus became part of U.S. law. Many scholars and thinkers have argued
that the president's order of Nov. 13, 2001 is in violation of that law.

Civil rights lawyer Barbara Olshansky, and other researchers at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) have pointed out several problems with the president's
military Order setting up military commissions to try people held in Guantanamo Bay brigs, in Cuba:

... [T]he Military Order raises significant concerns regarding whether the United States will comply with its obligations under the ICCPR. Like other agreements ensuring the protection of human rights, the ICCPR permits a country to deviate from some of these obligations in times of public emergencies. However, the Covenant also provides that certain rights and privileges are *so* fundamental that they may *not* be suspended even in a time of public emergency. These rights include:

the right to live your life (Article 6); the prohibition against torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment (Article 7); the prohibition against slavery (Article 8); the prohibition against convictions based on retroactive laws (Article 15); and the right of religious freedom (Article 18).

[fr. B. Olshansky/CCR, *Secret Trials and Executions: Military Tribunals and the Threat to Democracy* (Open Media/Seven Stories, '02), pp. 48-49.]

How the Supreme Court comes down on this question will certainly make history, one way or another.

What is uncontroverted is that the U.S. put hundreds, and at times, over a thousand people, some as young as 14, under torture, psychologically disabling conditions, under the very real threat of death, many scooped up off the battlefields of Afghanistan, for essentially, protecting their country from U.S. invasion.

Many of those men are facing a lifetime of uncertainty.

According to a recent PBS special, an al-Qaeda CIA snitch, who did several months in Guantanamo, claimed that a small minority, perhaps 10% of those imprisoned there,
were, in fact, associated with al-Qaeda. Most were turned in by jealous or greedy relatives or neighbors, for the thousands of dollars paid out by CIA and military officers.
If that is correct, then Guantanamo Gulag is a crime against the human rights of all.

Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal


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Text © copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.