What does it say about America's political condition that suggesting a defendant really ought to see the evidence against him practically qualifies you for a chapter in Profiles in Courage? At any rate, here are a few guys with no partisan axes to grind by taking on the president who do seem to be acting on principle in the debate over military tribunals:
Brig. Gen. James C. Walker, the top uniformed lawyer for the Marines, said that no civilized country should deny a defendant the right to see the evidence against him and that the United States "should not be the first."
Maj. Gen. Scott C. Black, the judge advocate general of the Army, made the same point, and Rear Adm. Bruce E. MacDonald, the judge advocate general of the Navy, said military law provided rules for using classified evidence, whereby a judge could prepare an unclassified version of the evidence to share with the jury and the accused and his lawyer….
"It would be unacceptable, legally, in my opinion, to give someone the death penalty in a trial where they never heard the evidence against them," said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has played a key role in the drafting of alternative legislation as a member of the Armed Services Committee and a military judge. "'Trust us, you're guilty, we're going to execute you, but we can't tell you why'? That's not going to pass muster; that's not necessary."
Not exactly a ringing defense of civil liberties, but I'll take what I can get. Speaking of which, the same story mentions a few ways in which the Bush administration claims its proposed rules for military tribunals are new and improved: "Among other changes, the proposal sets up tribunals overseen by a judge who could not also serve as part of the jury. Defendants would be given two appeals, and could not be tried twice." So the original plan was to keep trying a defendant until the tribunal reached the right result? Given how the rules are stacked against the accused, that hardly seems necessary. One trial should be plenty.