The problem with the Guantanamo military commissions is not the defendants' right to appear at hearings in their own trial. It's that the government keeps meddling in the cases in such cockamamie ways that they have to adjourn for months at a time while the lawyers scramble to figure out how to respond. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
It was a typical Monday morning at the Guantanamo military commissions. Within the first 15 minutes, the judge had to adjourn the pre-trial hearing in the case of the five defendants accused of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, this time because one of the defendants had asked a question. And no one knew the answer.
After the chief Guantanamo commission official convinced Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work to issue an order forcing military judges involved in the commissions to move to Guantanamo until their cases are over, defense attorneys objected. The order puts undue pressure on the judges to get their cases over with so they can get back home, they insisted.
Four months after defense lawyers first told a Guantanamo military commission that they'd learned the FBI was spying on their colleagues, it remains unclear who or what the FBI was investigating. What is clear is that it will continue to delay progress in the case of the five men accused of masterminding the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.