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NYC Bar Seeks Congressional Hearings Over Fairness of Guantanamo Military Commission Trials

Media Advisory
March 13, 2008

Oroma Mpi, 212-382-6713


NYC Bar Seeks Congressional Hearings Over Fairness of Guantanamo Military Commission Trials


New York, NY—The Association of the Bar of the City of New York urges that congressional hearings be held to consider charges that military commission trials of Guantanamo detainees may be subject to improper political influence, and that the chain of command has been improperly centralized.  In a letter to key Congressional committees, Association President Barry Kamins wrote that recent interviews by Col. Morris Davis, former commissions chief prosecutor, raise the concern as to whether the trials will be perceived as fair. 

In addition, actions taken by the Department of Defense have resulted in the prosecution, defense and administrative functions of the commissions all reporting to the Department’s General Counsel’s office. This centralization of authority, according to the letter, “establishes a blueprint for conflict and political influence on the prosecution and conduct of the military commissions.”

The letter also cites the paucity of resources available to defense counsel, and notes that concerns about the ability to provide detainees with an effective defense are particularly heightened as a result of the government’s announced intention to seek the death penalty for some detainees.  These shortcomings are in addition to the troublesome due process issues in the commissions procedures, examples of which are provided in the letter.

The letter states that the concerns raised cannot be handled through an internal Defense Department process, as the problems involve the relationship between uniformed officers and high-ranking civilian employees.  Therefore, Congress should exercise its oversight responsibility to investigate these issues, to assure that charges against detainees are handled with impartiality and integrity.

The full letter is available here:

About the Association
The New York City Bar Association ( was founded in 1870, and since then has been dedicated to maintaining the high ethical standards of the profession, promoting reform of the law, and providing service to the profession and the public. The Association continues to work for political, legal and social reform, while implementing innovative means to help the disadvantaged. Protecting the public’s welfare remains one of the Association’s highest priorities.


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