November 1, 2017, New York – In response to a military judge’s decision to hold Brigadier General John Baker in contempt of court, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement:
As lawyers who have represented detainees at Guantánamo for more than a decade, including before the military commissions, we condemn the military judge's decision to hold Brigadier General John Baker in contempt of court. We express our admiration and full support for his refusal to force defense counsel to participate in military commission proceedings that would compromise their ethical responsibilities and violate the law.
We also express our admiration and full support for the civilian members of Mr. Nashiri's defense team for their principled decision to withdraw from participation in his case because of their apparent inability to ensure confidentiality of their attorney-client communications, effective representation of their client, or their client’s right to receive a fair trial.
These military commissions defense lawyers should be commended for their actions. We know from our own experience representing detainees before the military commissions the unprecedented challenges that these lawyers face every day to ensure some measure of justice for their clients in a system that was not established to provide justice, but rather to deny fundamental rights to Muslim men and cover up their torture by U.S. officials.
It is also important to emphasize that the obvious failure of these military commission proceedings results first and foremost from the military judge's own failure and refusal to take any action to address and remedy the most serious form of government abuse of legal process: the continuing unwarranted and improper interference with the defense in a death penalty case.
The only sufficient remedy for this legal catastrophe is the immediate release of Brigadier General Baker from confinement, the dismissal of all military commission charges against Mr. Nashiri, and a final end to the failed experiment of military commissions at Guantánamo.
The Center for Constitutional Rights has led the legal battle over Guantánamo for more than 15 years – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country, ensuring that all the men detained at Guantánamo have had the option of legal representation. CCR is responsible for many Guantánamo cases in many venues, representing men in their habeas cases in federal court and before the military commissions and Periodic Review Boards, the families of men who died at Guantánamo, and men who have been released and are seeking accountability in international courts.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.