New U.S. rules for war crimes tribunals at Guantanamo fail to correct fundamental flaws that are undermining Western efforts to defeat global terrorism, the British government’s top lawyer said Monday.
“The changes made are too little and too late,” Lord Peter Goldsmith, Britain’s attorney general and a longtime critic of the Guantanamo detention operation, told a meeting of the American Bar Assn. in Miami.
Congress revised the tribunal system to try foreign suspected terrorists at Guantanamo last year after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the system created by President Bush.
Goldsmith said that he welcomed some changes, such as the decision not to use secret evidence that would not be shown to the accused, but that they did not go far enough to ensure fair trials.
Guantanamo remains a powerful symbol of injustice that not only hurts the United States’ image but undermines international efforts to win the ideological war against global extremism, Goldsmith said.
Goldsmith won standing ovations from the American lawyers, some of whom have provided free legal aid to some of the 395 suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban captives held indefinitely at Guantanamo for as long as five years.