2
   

Abuse coverup of Gitmo detainees and unfair process.

 
 
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2005 06:52 am
By NEIL A. LEWIS
Published: August 1, 2005
WASHINGTON, July 31 - As the Pentagon was making its final preparations to begin war crimes trials against four detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, two senior prosecutors complained in confidential messages last year that the trial system had been secretly arranged to improve the chance of conviction and to deprive defendants of material that could prove their innocence.

The electronic messages, obtained by The New York Times, reveal a bitter dispute within the military legal community over the fairness of the system at a time when the Bush administration and the Pentagon were eager to have the military commissions, the first for the United States since the aftermath of World War II, be seen as just at home and abroad.

During the same time period, military defense lawyers were publicly criticizing the system, but senior officials dismissed their complaints and said they were contrived as part of the efforts to help their clients.

The defense lawyers' complaints and those of outside groups like the American Bar Association were, it is now clear, simultaneously being echoed in confidential messages by the two high-ranking prosecutors whose cases would, if anything, benefit from any slanting of the process.

In a separate e-mail message, the chief prosecutor flatly rejected the accusations by his subordinates. And a military review supported him.

Among the striking statements in the prosecutors' messages was an assertion by one that the chief prosecutor had told his subordinates that the members of the military commission that would try the first four defendants would be "handpicked" to ensure that all would be convicted.

The same officer, Capt. John Carr of the Air Force, also said in his message that he had been told that any exculpatory evidence - information that could help the detainees mount a defense in their cases - would probably exist only in the 10 percent of documents being withheld by the Central Intelligence Agency for security reasons.

Captain Carr's e-mail message also said that some evidence that at least one of the four defendants had been brutalized had been lost and that other evidence on the same issue had been withheld. The March 15, 2004, message was addressed to Col. Frederick L. Borch, the chief prosecutor who was the object of much of Captain Carr's criticism.

The second officer, Maj. Robert Preston, also of the Air Force, said in a March 11, 2004, message to another senior officer in the prosecutor's office that he could not in good conscience write a legal motion saying the proceedings would be "full and fair" when he knew they would not.

Brig. Gen. Thomas L. Hemingway of the Air Force, a senior adviser to the office running the war crimes trials who provided a response from the Defense Department, said that the e-mail messages had prompted a formal investigation by the Pentagon's inspector general that found no evidence to support the two officers' accusations of legal or ethical problems.

Colonel Borch, who has since retired from the military, sent his own e-mail message to Captain Carr and Major Preston on March 15, 2004, with copies to several other members of the prosecution team the same day, outlining his response.

In his message, Colonel Borch said he had great respect and admiration for Captain Carr and Major Preston. But their accusations, he said, were "monstrous lies." He did not, however, address any specifics, like stacking the panel.

"I am convinced to the depth of my soul that all of us on the prosecution team are truly dedicated to the mission of the office of military commissions," he wrote, "and that no one on the team has anything but the highest ethical principles."

Colonel Borch did not respond to telephone messages left at his home. Captain Carr, who has since been promoted to major, declined to comment when reached by telephone, as did Major Preston. Both Captain Carr and Major Preston left the prosecution team within weeks of their e-mail messages and remain on active duty.

General Hemingway said the assertions in the e-mail messages had been "taken very seriously and an investigation was conducted because of the allegations about potential violations of ethics and the law."

He said in an interview that the Defense Department's inspector general spent about two months investigating the accusations and reviewing the operations of the prosecutor's office. "It disclosed no evidence of any criminal misconduct, no evidence of any ethical violations, and no disciplinary action was taken against anybody," the general said. He also said that no evidence had been "tampered with, falsified or hidden."

General Hemingway declined to discuss any specifics of the two prosecutors' accusations, but he said he now believed that the problems underlying the complaints were "miscommunication, misunderstanding and personality conflicts." The inspector general's report has not been made public but was sent to the Pentagon's top civilian lawyer, he said.

Copies of the e-mail messages were provided to The Times by members of the armed forces who are critics of the military commission process. The documents' authenticity was independently confirmed by other military officials.

The Bush administration and the Pentagon have faced criticism about the legitimacy of the military commission procedures almost since the regulations describing them were announced in 2002.

The rules, which in essence constitute a new body of law distinct from military and civilian law, allow, for example, witnesses to testify anonymously for the prosecution. Also, any information may be admitted into evidence if the presiding officer judges it to be "probative to a reasonable person," a new standard far more favorable to the prosecution than anything in civilian law or military law. It is unclear whether information that may have been obtained under coercion or torture can be admissible.

The trials of the first four defendants began last August in a secure courtroom in a converted dental clinic at the naval base at Guantánamo. Before they could start in earnest, the trials were abruptly halted in November when a federal judge ruled they violated both military law and the United States' obligations to comply with the Geneva Conventions.

But a three-judge appeals court panel that included Judge John G. Roberts, President Bush's Supreme Court nominee, unanimously reversed that ruling on July 15.

Defense Department officials have said they plan to resume the trials in the next several weeks. They said they also planned soon to charge an additional eight detainees with war crimes.

The two trials expected to resume shortly are those of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who was a driver in Afghanistan for Osama bin Laden; and David Hicks, an Australian who was captured in Afghanistan, where, prosecutors say, he had gone to fight for the Taliban government.

In his March 2004 message, Captain Carr told Colonel Borch that "you have repeatedly said to the office that the military panel will be handpicked and will not acquit these detainees and we only needed to worry about building a record for the review panel" and academicians who would pore over the record in years to come.

Captain Carr said in the message that the problems could not be dismissed as personality differences, as some had tried to depict them, but "may constitute dereliction of duty, false official statements or other criminal conduct."

He added that "the evidence does not indicate that our military and civilian leaders have been accurately informed of the state of our preparation, the true culpability of the accused or the sustainability of our efforts." The office, he said, was poised to "prosecute fairly low-level accused in a process that appears to be rigged."

He said that Colonel Borch also said that he was close to Maj. Gen. John D. Altenburg Jr., the retired officer who is in overall charge of the war crimes commissions, and that this would favor the prosecution.

General Altenburg selected the commission members, including the presiding officer, Col. Peter S. Brownback III, a longtime close friend of his. Defense lawyers objected to the presence of Colonel Brownback and some other officers, saying they had serious conflicts of interest. General Altenburg removed some of the other officers but allowed Colonel Brownback to remain.

In his electronic message, Captain Carr said the prosecution team had falsely stated to superiors that it had no evidence of torture of Ali Hamza Ahmed Sulayman al-Bahlul of Yemen. In addition, Captain Carr said the prosecution team had lost an F.B.I. document detailing an interview in which the detainee claimed he had been tortured and abused.

Major Preston, in his e-mail message of March 11, 2004, said that pressing ahead with the trials would be "a severe threat to the reputation of the military justice system and even a fraud on the American people."

Italics added
__________________________________________________________

In the military they drill it through your head about honor, honesty, integrity, and the like.

When the civilians need you to turn a blind eye to those principles to make a good headline or get a conviction members of the military often cannot do this.

We heap SO MUCH on our military members these days. We expect them to fight an insurgency that is only getting stronger (perhaps due to the policy that has them fighting there in the first place) and then expect them to be our moral compass when it comes to detaining and prosecuting the very people they are fighting against.

Yet again we expect too much of them - and yet again they just might save our asses from the flames. This is proof, to me atleast, that when you are afraid, morality matters more than safety.

TTF
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 1,685 • Replies: 27
No top replies

 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2005 07:24 am
This is big news in Australia, where the memos were relaeased yesterday.

The administration, according to a news magazine program this am is explaining it away as "mis-communication and personality clashes".

I have always had a lot of time for the military lawyers over Gitmo, as I understand they protested that the tribunals being set up were an abuse of process from the very beginning.

Good on them.
0 Replies
 
Baldimo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2005 04:23 pm
dlowan wrote:
This is big news in Australia, where the memos were relaeased yesterday.

The administration, according to a news magazine program this am is explaining it away as "mis-communication and personality clashes".

I have always had a lot of time for the military lawyers over Gitmo, as I understand they protested that the tribunals being set up were an abuse of process from the very beginning.

Good on them.


Are the terrorists to be tried in civilian courts? Is that what is perfered?
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2005 04:43 pm
Actually, as I understand it, the US military has a very fair military tribunal process.

They might wish to follow it, as many of their own legal people have suggested, I have read.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2005 06:42 pm
The military trial system in the United States requires that defendants be represented by competent counsel (one could ask any officer to represent oneself, and if not legally accredited, the military would be obliged to provide legal counsel to advice your counsel of choice). Defense counsel have the right of discovery (i.e., to see evidence before it is presented to the court), the right to call any witness, and to a limited degree, the right to challenge the composition of the panel (the officers which sit in judgment constitue judge and jury).

A standard military trial would be a good deal more fair than the Shrub's special commission, which has the look about it of a marsupial which i rather supsect our Cunning Coney would recognize on sight.
0 Replies
 
thethinkfactory
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Aug, 2005 08:14 pm
Baldimo - Great question.

TTF
0 Replies
 
goodfielder
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 12:57 am
This is all a legal fiction. No, wait, it's a crock of lies.

The Bush Administration has never had any intention of giving any detainee a fair trial, none whatsoever. They were always to be hauled in front of these special commissions and fitted up and dealt with - all without constitutional protection or the protection afforded by domestic or international law.

Jeepers talk about Leviathan. A true conservative would feel sickened at what this Administration has done. Only neo-cons can stomach this sort of behaviour.
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 01:09 am
I believe the Bush administration has made the case that those held in Gitmo are not criminals. They are instead illegal combatants. fighting a war against us without allegance to any accountable nation or government. Their status is outside anything defined or even contemplated in the Geneva Convention. They are prisoners of War, but without the protection of any nation - a situation analogous to that of the pirates who were the scourge of maratime trade in the Atlantic and Mediterranean a few centuries ago. The British (after they had given up their own versions of piracy against the Spanish) hung them (usually without military trial) as they were captured.

When the war is over we can release the prisoners.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 02:53 am
Sigh.........


Land of the free and home of the brave - world leaders in democracy and so on......sigh.....


Such ignorance.....
0 Replies
 
goodfielder
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 03:38 am
georgeob1 wrote:
I believe the Bush administration has made the case that those held in Gitmo are not criminals. They are instead illegal combatants. fighting a war against us without allegance to any accountable nation or government. Their status is outside anything defined or even contemplated in the Geneva Convention. They are prisoners of War, but without the protection of any nation - a situation analogous to that of the pirates who were the scourge of maratime trade in the Atlantic and Mediterranean a few centuries ago. The British (after they had given up their own versions of piracy against the Spanish) hung them (usually without military trial) as they were captured.

When the war is over we can release the prisoners.


georgebob - a reasonable response.

On criminality. It's difficult for me to construct some sort of detailed argument on their criminality because I don't know the details of any but one person at Camp Delta. So if I can make a broad statement - if they were captured in Afghanistan fighting for the Taliban then they were fighting for a de jure government in that government's territory therefore they weren't committing a crime. That's a pretty broad claim but best I can do. I need to add that I have no time for the Taliban.

"Ilegal combatant" - has the ring of the law about it. I have no idea where the origins of that idea came from. I would ask how they got that designation and under what legal system. See my first paragraph for the source of my wonder.

Outside the Geneva Conventions? Sez who? Sez the Bush Administration? Sez the invading force. Nice move.

I wouldn't use mercantile Britain as a moral compass Very Happy

So after the war is over they can go home? Have you checked the language lately? The GWOT is being replaced by other phrases. The war is being downsized, at least in language.

Nope, this is a fit-up of amazing proportions. I am not blindly supporting terrorists - I am calling for just treatment.

The Bush Administration has trampled over international law - it won't affect Bush or Cheney or the others - it may affect military personnel in the future.
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 03:59 am
goodfielder wrote:
I wouldn't use mercantile Britain as a moral compass Very Happy

The Bush Administration has trampled over international law - it won't affect Bush or Cheney or the others - it may affect military personnel in the future.


Then who would you use? France? China? Indonesia? Japan?

Our Administration has trampled over the interpretions of some as to what constitutes International law. There is generally more insistence on compliance with the niceties of such law by the most powerful states than of others. Examples of this abound. The recent French intervention to protect their cocoa plantations in Cote de Ivoire is but a recent example. Can you name another remotely analogous nation that has done better at this under such circumstances as the United States?

It was not in Gulliver's interest to assist the Liliputians in tying him down.
0 Replies
 
old europe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 04:13 am
georgeob1 wrote:
It was not in Gulliver's interest to assist the Liliputians in tying him down.


Nice paraphrase of "Might Makes Right".
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 04:16 am
Well, Swift is good company.

Besides, considering all of the real cruelty and misery in the world right now, I consider the focus on 400 or so prisioners in Guantanamo, all of whom are being held in comparatively comfortable and healthful circumstances, a bit out of place. Perhaps when the troubles in Sudan, Somalia, Cechnya, Zimbabwe have been resolved..... I wonder how many terror suspects are being held by prosecutors without charge or trial in France right now?(all of course in accord with their law). Could it be a few hundred?
0 Replies
 
goodfielder
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 04:22 am
The world used to look to the US as an exemplar of the rule of law and as a good international citizen. Finished now.
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 04:36 am
I doubt seriously that "the world" ever truly did hold such feelings. When was that? Before or after the invasion of Okinawa and the bombing of Hiroshima? By then of course we had been conducting "unrestricted submarine warfare against Japan for four years, sinking ships of all types without warning or any attempt to rescue survivors. I have never read of any contemporaneous Australian concerns or reservations expressed about that clear violation of International law - a crime for which we imprisioned German Admirals at Nuremburg..

Compliance with International law in the complete absence of any reason or interest to do otherwise is hardly a virtue. Stretching it by nations in danger or sorely provoked is a common thing, usually going unnoticed. On the specific issue of the prisoners in Guantanamo, we are in compliance with international law. That is the expressed position of our government and the proposition is defensible. Others may disagree, but that does not make us guilty. There is no tribunal with compulsory jurisdiction and in the absence of enforcement there is no international law -- as has been amply demonstrated by other nations ranging from Indonesia to China to Zimbabwe, to Russia and France.
0 Replies
 
revel
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 05:49 am
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/02/AR2005080200440.html

Ex-Military Prosecutors Fault Gitmo Trials

By ROBERT BURNS
The Associated Press
Tuesday, August 2, 2005; 6:57 AM



WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon acknowledged on Monday that two former members of the military team handling prosecutions of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, alleged last year that the trial system was rigged in favor of the government.

Officials said the prosecutors' claims of ethical lapses and potential criminal acts had been reviewed and dismissed as unfounded. Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said an investigation determined they were "much ado about nothing."

In a later written statement, the Pentagon said an "operational assessment" of the chief prosecutor's office _ undertaken in response to the allegations _ recommended a restructuring, including unspecified personnel changes.

The allegations by Air Force Maj. John Carr, who was then a captain, and Air Force Maj. Robert Preston were first reported by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times on Monday. Both newspapers quoted from March 2004 internal e-mails written by Carr and Preston that detailed the allegations.

Copies of the e-mails, as well as an electronic message written by then-chief prosecutor Army Col. Fred Borch, were provided to The Associated Press by the American Civil Liberties Union and authenticated by a Pentagon official.

Among other charges, Carr and Preston alleged that the office of the chief prosecutor had deliberately misled senior civilian Pentagon officials about the quality of evidence against the initial defendants and that inadequate efforts had been made by the prosecutor's office to ensure full and fair trials.

Di Rita, senior spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, said the allegations were thoroughly investigated by the Defense Department inspector general.

"The allegations were serious and the issue is a serious one. The inspector general concluded that it was much ado about nothing, that the individuals that had made the allegations couldn't substantiate their allegations, and everybody moved on. That matter was thoroughly vetted, and it's closed," Di Rita said.

In an e-mail note to his staff, Borch said the allegations against him by Carr and Preston were "monstrous lies."

"I am convinced to the depth of my soul that all of us on the prosecution team are truly dedicated to the mission of the Office of Military Commissions _ and that no one on the team has anything but the highest ethical principles," Borch wrote.

Preston and Carr, who have since left that office, accused fellow prosecutors of ignoring torture allegations, failing to protect evidence that could help defendants establish a defense and withholding information from superiors.

Carr asserted that the chief prosecutor had told subordinates that the members of the military commission that would try the first four defendants would be "handpicked" to ensure that all would be convicted.

Carr also said in his message that he had been told that any information that could help the defendants would probably exist only in the 10 percent of documents being withheld by the CIA for security reasons.

The ACLU, which has criticized the military trial system, said the Carr and Preston allegations were further evidence that the Pentagon should scrap the system and instead try the alleged terrorists under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which provides fuller protection for the rights of the accused.

"Clearly the concerns raised by these two confirm what we've been saying from the beginning: (the Pentagon) rigged the system to render the result the Bush administration wants, which is conviction of these first accused, at any cost," said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU.

The Pentagon-appointed lawyer for David Hicks, an Australian who is one of four Guantanamo Bay detainees whose cases were the first to go to trial, was quoted by Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio on Monday as saying the Australian government should withdraw its support for the trials, based on the Carr and Preston allegations.

"When you look at the system and how it is operating and you look at the information that has just come out, I would hope that they would say enough's enough," the lawyer, Maj. Michael Mori, was quoted as saying.

Australian Attorney General Philip Ruddock said he had not heard of the allegations until Monday.

"I will look into those issues," Ruddock told reporters in Canberra. "The Americans have dealt with some of those matters and said they lacked veracity. I'll have (a) look at it and see whether I want to say the same thing _ at this stage, I can't."

Di Rita, the Rumsfeld spokesman, told reporters at the Pentagon that although the inspector general found the Carr and Preston allegations to be without merit, the Pentagon was looking at possible changes to the trial system.

"We're looking _ we're always looking _ to see if there are modifications that might be needed to the procedures" before the trials resume, Di Rita said. They were halted last November when a federal court ruled that the procedures violated due process and U.S. government obligations under the Geneva Conventions.

In July, a three-judge federal appeals court panel reversed the lower court ruling, saying the proceedings were lawful. The Pentagon has not said how soon it intends to resume the trials.

___
0 Replies
 
goodfielder
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 05:56 am
Quote:
On the specific issue of the prisoners in Guantanamo, we are in compliance with international law. That is the expressed position of our government and the proposition is defensible. Others may disagree, but that does not make us guilty


As I said, the idea of the US being an exemplar for the rest of the world is finished now.

I'm just sorry that my government won't protect the interests of its nationals when those nationals are in the custody of the US and are about to be subjected to corrupt kangaroo courts.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 06:01 am
Starting to get embarrassing for Howard, now - after the continuing info re abuse of prisoners in American hands - and abuse of process, though.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 06:06 am
goodfielder wrote:
The world used to look to the US as an exemplar of the rule of law and as a good international citizen. Finished now.


America had had its virtues - but enough dirty doings that I doubt many ever saw it as an exemplar, exactly.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 11:14 am
goodfielder wrote:
Quote:
On the specific issue of the prisoners in Guantanamo, we are in compliance with international law. That is the expressed position of our government and the proposition is defensible. Others may disagree, but that does not make us guilty


As I said, the idea of the US being an exemplar for the rest of the world is finished now.

I'm just sorry that my government won't protect the interests of its nationals when those nationals are in the custody of the US and are about to be subjected to corrupt kangaroo courts.


So who would take our place?
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

Obama '08? - Discussion by sozobe
Let's get rid of the Electoral College - Discussion by Robert Gentel
McCain's VP: - Discussion by Cycloptichorn
McCain is blowing his election chances. - Discussion by McGentrix
Food Stamp Turkeys - Discussion by H2O MAN
The 2008 Democrat Convention - Discussion by Lash
Snowdon is a dummy - Discussion by cicerone imposter
GAFFNEY: Whose side is Obama on? - Discussion by gungasnake
 
  1. Forums
  2. » Abuse coverup of Gitmo detainees and unfair process.
Copyright © 2019 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 10/13/2019 at 01:57:47