It’s not a good time to be in Cuba. Not because of any hurricane or even Fidel. For the first time in the Obama administration officials may soon be able to open new cases against Guantanamo Bay detainees.

But this is a time for celebration, right? These men will finally face justice. Not quite.

 After the backlash against efforts to put detainees on trial in New York, and Congress’s latest move to prevent any Gitmo residents from being held in the U.S., it now looks as if detainees will face military tribunals instead of civilian courts.

Aside from avoiding any dangers associated with bringing terrorist suspects to U.S. soil, military tribunals have a number of “advantages” over civilian courts. Tribunals will accept hearsay evidence and can conduct business away from pesky courtroom reporters.

These differences obviously make it easier to get a conviction, but our sacrifice is not a small one.

One of the guiding principles of the justice system is that all men are equal under the law. By following our own rule of law only when it suits our purpose we are sacrificing the legitimacy of our justice system.

Further, Tribunals rob the public of a chance to learn just how these suspects are being treated and how terror cases are being handled. Without a public trial we relinquish our rights to discuss and criticize the policies and practices of our government—what some might call democracy.

If the last decade of fighting “terror” can teach us anything, our excursion into Iraq should leave us with the hard-earned knowledge that ignorance isn’t always bliss.

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