LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – The new U.S. Court of Military Commissi…

LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – The new U.S. Court of Military Commission Appeals has heard arguments in its first case. Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr was captured in Afghanistan in 2002 for allegedly killing a U.S. soldier. A semantic dispute over the term “unlawful” is at the heart of the debate.

In a federal courthouse a block away from the White House, a special appeals court for Guantanamo detainees met for the first time this week.

The U.S. Court of Military Commission Review heard arguments in the case of Omar Khadr, a Canadian national who was captured in Afghanistan in 2002 for allegedly killing a U.S. soldier. The panel of three military judges must decide whether the discrepancies between the wording in a new terrorism law and its actual practice are enough to derail the Defense Department’s effort to launch its first terrorism trials.

“This is about the credibility of the U.S. and the perception at home and abroad of our commitment to the rule of law,” Lt. Commander William Kuebler told reporters outside the courthouse. Keubler is leading Khadr’s defense and, as he sees it, the Bush administration is creating a legal system for the Guantanamo prisoners on the fly.

“We are designing a process after the fact to convict people we have already basically determined are guilty,” he said. “And that is an absolute affront to the rule of law.”

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