The Champion

March 2011 , Page 5 

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Unconstitutional Policies Coming Around Again (From the President)

By Jim E. Lavine

On March 7, 2011, President Obama issued an executive order directing the secretary of defense to resume military commission prosecutions at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and institutionalizing a regime of indefinite detention for detainees the administration would prefer not to prosecute at all.1 The order comes just over two years after the president decreed an immediate halt to all military commission proceedings and vowed to empty the prison camps by January 2010. The president’s decision to breathe new life into military commissions and pursue a formal indefinite detention policy is profoundly disappointing and cause for deep concern by the criminal defense bar. 

Military commissions continue to fall far short of American principles of fairness and due process. Despite improvements over the Bush-era commissions, the current system still permits the government to introduce hearsay and statements obtained through coercion. The commissions also assert jurisdictio

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