Human rights groups around the world have criticized Guantanamo, and Attorney General Michael Mukasey said in his confirmation hearings that the detention center has given the United States a "black eye." But military lawyers said they are proud of the current system and believe it provides a fair system for review.
Before today's decision, Brigadier Gen. Cameron A. Crawford, the deputy commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, told ABC News, "I believe that 40, 50 years from now when our children and grandchildren are studying Guantanamo, I believe that history will have judged that we did the right thing at the right time, in the face of overwhelming criticism both domestically and most certainly on an international basis."
Military lawyers said the system at Guantanamo is necessary because the federal court system in America is simply not well suited to handle the legal issues that arise in a war with an enemy like al Qaeda.
Capt. Pat McCarthy, the U.S. government's lead counsel at Guantanamo, described scenarios of capture that have complicated the government's attempt to gather evidence.
"We had to grab as much stuff as we could grab in the house and get out the door with it before the house was inundated with cohorts of the individual that we are taking custody over," he said.
Any chance to gather evidence was rushed, McCarthy said. "So what you have is large green trash bags full of computers, full of weapons, full of letters, you have all of that sort of thing."
He said that such evidence would never be accepted in a federal court. "I can assure you that if you attempt to take that sort of evidence into federal district court you will not be able to convict, period."
But others disagree.
Michael Greenberger, law professor at the University of Maryland School of Law, said the U.S. courts would be able to handle the detainees. Greenberger said. "That is not an unusual situation. During World War II both enemy combatants and prisoners of war were held in the United States."
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