You may recall a while back the outrage that poured from the right-wing of the Internet over this quote from Amnesty International regarding the US imprisonment of so-called "terrorists" while denying them basic civl rights. That sorta fell flat after it was found that the US was, literally, using parts of the old Gulag system in Eastern Europe to imprison some of these prisoners. Oops.
Perhaps one of the more disgusting bits of the Soviet system was the use of sham court trials. It spoke volumes about the disjunction between their official image and the essential evil of the system - they knew what they were doing was wrong, so they had to paint a veneer of legalistics over the proceedings to hide it from themselves. They didn't even have the nobility to embrace their evil openly (witness the Chinese billing families of executed prisoners for the cost of a bullet); this may be one reason why the system decayed out in a whimper.
Now, consider this summary of the David Hicks' case from Glenn Greenwald:
"So, to recap: we imprison someone for life with no charges, muffle their claims that they were tortured in captivity, agree to let them go after five years provided they sign a statement "stipulating" they were treated properly and vow to remain silent about the mistreatment to which they were subjected, and then send military official parading in public, waving the signed "stipulation" around in the air as proof of the sterling, professional and humane conditions at Guantanamo."
Well done, America - you've slipped past China and have now drawn equal with the Soviet Union when it comes to slapping a tawdry veneer on your actions to hide what you're doing.