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Cutting Through the Malarky


As a criminal defense attorney, one of the most difficult things you do is to form any sort of relationship with your client in order to adequately prepare a defense.  Most criminal defendants are wary of anyone involved in the criminal justice system, even defense counsel, if they have any sort of history of charges and/or jail time. 

Imagine trying to do your job as defense counsel when your client is someone at Gitmo.

Access to Guantanamo is severely restricted, with visitors required to arrive either on military planes or government-approved charters that have limited space and schedules.

"A simple one-hour meeting with a client usually requires a four-day round trip by counsel," Fleener wrote in his motion.

Because of the security and travel restrictions, it is "logistically impossible" to provide an adequate defense, said Fleener.

Fleener said other defense lawyers are expected to file similar motions asking that the trials be moved from Guantanamo.

It’s difficult enough to meet with clients who are incarcerated here in the US — security is enormous (for good reason, frankly, having sent some of those folks to the penitentiary myself and knowing what they can be capable of in terms of violence…), and the paperwork and red tape involved in getting a meeting with your client can be a pain in the ass. When you add in the layers through the Pentagon, especially Rummy’s take on the Pentagon, it gets really tough.

Look, I’m probably more of a legal hard ass when it comes to criminal punishment than most folks.  I tend to be way more conservative even than Mr. ReddHedd on this sort of thing.

But our laws provide for an adequate defense and a presumption of innocence — and we either stand by that, or we might as well start phoning it in for random incarceration without adequate trial.  Good for the military attorney who is pushing this forward.  Folks in the JAG corps are often between a rock and a hard place in these cases — where their patriotism is challenged for doing their jobs, but where dedication to the ideals of legal practice have to remain at the top of the list.  It’s a very, very tough job, and I salute the ones who are doing it.  Well done, indeed.

One has to wonder, though, what is going on at Gitmo now that is requiring this whole new level of media restriction?  And how, exactly, would we ever find out what is being done in our name when there is already so little oversight by the Rubber Stamp Republican Congress?  I don’t hold the Constitution and our nation’s laws so cheaply that I am willing to sell them out at any price…and it is worth a reminder to our nation’s leadership that there are a whole lot of citizens who feel the same way.

(btw, thanks to "Joe" for the heads up on this article.  Much appreciated.)

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com