News Release

Release Draft Commission Rules For Public Comment, Experts Say

Washington, DC (April 7, 2010) – This week, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers joined a group including eight other organizations and prominent scholars calling for more transparency and a period for public comment regarding the release of the 2010 Manual for Military Commissions by the Department of Defense.

The Manual, which has been developed in secrecy, is set to be released within the coming days and sets forth the rules and procedures which will be used in the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay. A public comment process is the normal procedure for both federal court and court-martial rulemaking, and helps improve clarity and understanding.

“Revising the manual in secret suggests that either the commission authorities are ashamed of the new rules or are clueless as to how the rules need to be written,” NACDL Executive Director Norman Reimer observed.

Once released and submitted to Congress, it will be extremely difficult for the public to offer any kind of recommendations or changes regarding the Manual’s rules and procedures.

The joint statement, which was also signed by the National Institute of Military Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Constitution Project, and others, is posted on NACDL’s National Security Web site.

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The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.