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This week’s announcement by the Pentagon to seek the death penalty in the case of six prisoners at Guantanamo Bay – charged with involvement in the 9/11 attacks – represents yet another step in a long-term planning process for executions at Camp Delta at the US Naval station in Cuba. US Army Regulation 190-55 has for some time allowed for military executions by lethal injection. Until recently however, precedent within US martial law has identified Fort Leavenworth in Kansas as the location for military executions – a location which in theory, would place the condemned prisoner within the jurisdiction of US federal law and all of its protections, constitutional guarantees and appeal processes. However, in January of 2006, the US military code was amended to allow for ‘other locations’ such as Guantanamo Bay to be selected as legitimate sites for the execution of those sentenced to death by military courts. Under the revised military code, at paragraph 7, the US military’s Provost Martial General (PMG) is authorised to contract ‘for the following services … (a) Acquisition of lethal substance for lethal injection, (b) Medical or other qualified personnel to insert intravenous needles into the condemned prisoner. (c) Personnel to administer the lethal substance.’ In addition to this authority to contract these services to the US military, the PMG is now also authorised to conduct such executions, at the behest of the President of the United States and the Secretary of the Army, at Guantanamo Bay – outside of the jurisdiction of the US federal legal system. These are alarming developments when considered in light of this week’s announcement by the US military to act as judge, jury and potentially as executioner in the case of the accused prisoners at Guantanamo.
Clonan, T., 2008: Executions At Guantanamo Bay Would Mock US Democracy, Dublin: The Irish Times