From an LA Times editorial:
The tribunals are an ad hoc invention, authorized by President Bush three years ago when he rejected the established military court-martial system and the federal criminal courts, either of which would have worked more smoothly. As a result, military officials have few precedents to follow and last week seemed confused about which rules or legal procedures applied.What makes you think this Administration would have any hesitation in doing this to you if it suited their purpose? Better keep your nose clean--watch what you say and do. Better yet, become a rabid anti-terrorist. Spy on your neighbors and report on your coworkers. What better way to prove--when you run afoul of some unforeseen suspicion--that you're on the side of right and might?
Members of these tribunals — the jury, in effect — are military professionals appointed by the Pentagon. The tribunal's chief officer is a retired Army judge, the only member of the panel with legal training. He is both the judge and a jury member, ruling on motions and voting with the five other commissioners.
In a criminal court, the lay jury decides the facts and the judge rules on questions of law. Here, however, tribunal members decide on both. Yet the five nonlawyers were clearly befuddled last week when asked to define concepts such as due process and reasonable doubt.
The cards are stacked against detainees in other ways too. Government prosecutors got spacious quarters and their own staff to prepare for the hearings. Military defense lawyers were crowded into one room. Midway through the week, the conference table they all shared was removed. The Arab interpreters were so incompetent that the proceedings resembled a game of "telephone," in which the message veered closer to gibberish with each repetition. Yet this game is about men's futures.