June 01, 2006
Zone Nguyen

Via Greg comes this nice article about 2004 Harris County judicial candidate Zone Nguyen, who has since relocated to Laredo. Nguyen, who is a reservist in the Army with the JAG corps, spent several months in 2004 at Guantanamo with the Office of Military Commissions, where he worked on the prosecutions of various detainees.

He prepared initial disclosures for three of the four detainees who have been charged at Guantanamo: Australian David Hicks, Ali Hamza Ahmad Sulayman al-Bahlul of Yemen and Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi of Sudan.

"It was interesting to be at the forefront of history and to participate in it - everyone wanted to get things going and start trying cases right away," Nguyen said.

"I feel that that we could have achieved our goal of being full and fair," he said. "But in the end, we're just dealing with obstacles that make it seem like we don't want to try these people."

Nguyen described the initial work of his legal team as "cutting edge."

"We were creating new laws, grabbing from U.S. and international laws, to create a true legal system," he said.

The goal was to create a body of new laws the military could use to prosecute suspected terrorists who are not U.S. citizens and who did not commit crimes on U.S. soil.

"It was like starting a whole new country, in terms of determining what would be considered right or wrong, and why," Nguyen said.

The analogy he gives is wanting to create something like the International Criminal Tribunal, which prosecuted the late Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes in Yugoslavia. But the U.S. military wanted to create a new mechanism they could oversee to try people in the U.S. war on terror.

"The war on terror is real. We need a mechanism for this," Nguyen said. "The world needs to see trials."

It's a good read. I had the opportunity to hear Nguyen speak about his experiences after he returned home in 2004. There's at least a couple of good magazine articles, if not a book, in there. Houston's loss is Laredo's gain.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 01, 2006 to The great state of Texas | TrackBack