The June 2nd Los Angeles Times reported that military authorities at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, "have begun renovating several old office buildings to serve as courtrooms" for military tribunals. "Officials in Cuba also are informally discussing plans for building a Death Row and an execution chamber should any of the military trials result in death sentences in the U.S. war on terror," continues the report.
The Pentagon's Office of Military Commissions is selecting defendants from among the 680 detainees in Cuba's Camp X-Ray, and President Bush is expected to sign an executive order authorizing military trials sometime later this summer.
A somewhat sensationalized view of this story appeared on May 26th on the website of Australia's News.com.au wire service, which described the planned arrangement as "a death camp, with its own death row and execution chamber. Prisoners would be tried, convicted and executed without leaving its boundaries, without a jury and without right of appeal." This summary is sensationalistic in that the term "death camp" connotes a facility akin to what the Nazis and Soviets used to liquidate en masse innocent people arbitrarily designated "enemies of the state." Camp X-Ray is not that type of facility. However, the envisioned military tribunals would create tremendous potential for abuse, and that abuse could quickly multiply as federal power continues its unrestrained growth because of the open-ended war on terrorism. …