‘No Acquittals’ at Gitmo

29bush_hitler The former chief prosecutor here took the witness stand on Monday on behalf of a detainee and testified that top Pentagon officials had pressured him in deciding which cases to prosecute and what evidence to use.

The prosecutor, Col. Morris D. Davis of the Air Force, testified that Pentagon officials had interfered with his work for political reasons and told him that charges against well-known detainees “could have real strategic political value” and that there could be no acquittals.

His testimony completed one of the more unusual transformations in the contentious history of Guantánamo. Colonel Davis, who is on active duty as a senior Air Force official and was one of the Pentagon’s most vocal advocates of the Guantánamo military commissions, has become one of the most visible critics of the system.

Testifying about his assertions for the first time, Colonel Davis said a senior Pentagon official who oversaw the military commissions, Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann of the Air Force Reserve, reversed a decision he had made and insisted that prosecutors proceed with evidence derived through waterboarding of detainees and other aggressive interrogation methods that critics call torture.

Called to the stand by a Navy defense lawyer and testifying before a military judge, Colonel Davis said General Hartmann directed him last year to push war crimes cases here quickly. He said the general was trying to give the system legitimacy before a new president took office. He testified that General Hartmann referred to the long difficulties the Pentagon had had in operating the military commissions and said, “If we don’t get some cases going before the election, this thing’s going to implode.”

Spokesmen for the Pentagon and General Hartmann declined to comment on Monday, saying that the questioning was continuing before the military judge…

Inserted from <NY Times>

I first posted about Col. Davis on February 21. The GOP Reich likes to compare these tribunals with the Nuremberg trials, but in Nuremberg we did not extract testimony under torture and we did not decide the verdicts before the trials took place. Some might argue that some of these terrorists do not deserve a fair trial. Whether or not this is true, what they do or do not deserve is not relevant. This is not about who that are. It’s about who we are. At Nuremberg, we tried and convicted German judges for running exactly the same kinds of courts that Bush and the GOP are running here. If we ignore our own standards of justice to combat terrorism, then the war on terror is already over and the terrorists have won.

All articles cross-posted from Politics Plus

EU Urges US Not to Resume Executions

25whyDoWeKillPeople A total of 39 European countries issued a common declaration urging the United States not to resume executions.

The moves follows an April 16 ruling by the US Supreme Court, which by concluding that death by lethal injection does not violate the constitution has put an end to a de facto moratorium on capital punishment in the US.

“The European Union notes with disappointment the United States Supreme Court’s decision,” said the statement issued on behalf of all 27 EU member states and endorsed by 12 other countries.

“In light of this US Supreme Court decision, we strongly encourage the continuation of the de facto moratorium in place within the United States allowing the ongoing debate on the complex issues involved to be thoroughly deliberated,” it added.

At least 14 executions are reported to have been postponed while US judges considered their verdict. Three of these are now expected to take place this northern summer.

The EU is unanimously against the death penalty and in December submitted a resolution, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, calling for a global moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to abolishing it.

“The EU recalls that any miscarriage or failure of justice in the application of capital punishment represents an irreparable and irreversible loss of human life. No legal system is immune from mistakes and there is no reliable evidence that the death penalty provides added value in terms of deterrence,” EU governments said in their joint statement.

The EU statement was endorsed by 12 other European countries, including Norway, Turkey, Croatia, Serbia and Azerbaijan.

Inserted from <The Age>

This time, the US should follow the advice of our more civilized neighbors and leave the ranks of those nations who still practice such barbarism. Both parties are at fault here, but the GOP is especially rabid on this policy, conforming that they are, in fact, the pro-death party.

Gitmo: “We Can’t Have Acquittals!”

21trials Secret evidence. Denial of habeas corpus. Evidence obtained by waterboarding. Indefinite detention. The litany of complaints about the treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay is long, disturbing and by now familiar. Nonetheless, a new wave of shock and criticism greeted the Pentagon’s announcement on February 11 that it was charging six Guantánamo detainees, including alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, with war crimes–and seeking the death penalty for all of them.

Now, as the murky, quasi-legal staging of the Bush Administration’s military commissions unfolds, a key official has told The Nation that the trials have been rigged from the start. According to Col. Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor for Guantánamo’s military commissions, the process has been manipulated by Administration appointees to foreclose the possibility of acquittal.

Colonel Davis’s criticism of the commissions has been escalating since he resigned in October, telling the Washington Post that he had been pressured by politically appointed senior Defense officials to pursue cases deemed “sexy” and of “high interest” (such as the 9/11 cases now being pursued) in the run-up to the 2008 elections. Davis, once a staunch defender of the commissions process, elaborated on his reasons in a December 10, 2007, Los Angeles Times op-ed. “I concluded that full, fair and open trials were not possible under the current system,” he wrote. “I felt that the system had become deeply politicized and that I could no longer do my job effectively.”

Then, in an interview with The Nation in February after the six Guantánamo detainees were charged, Davis offered the most damning evidence of the military commissions’ bias–a revelation that speaks to fundamental flaws in the Bush Administration’s conduct of statecraft: its contempt for the rule of law and its pursuit of political objectives above all else.

When asked if he thought the men at Guantánamo could receive a fair trial, Davis provided the following account of an August 2005 meeting he had with Pentagon general counsel William Haynes–the man who now oversees the tribunal process for the Defense Department.

“[Haynes] said these trials will be the Nuremberg of our time,” recalled Davis, referring to the Nazi tribunals in 1945, considered the model of procedural rights in the prosecution of war crimes. In response, Davis said he noted that at Nuremberg there had been some acquittals, which had lent great credibility to the proceedings.

“I said to him that if we come up short and there are some acquittals in our cases, it will at least validate the process,” Davis continued. “At which point, [Haynes’s] eyes got wide and he said, ‘Wait a minute, we can’t have acquittals. If we’ve been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can’t have acquittals. We’ve got to have convictions.

Davis submitted his resignation on October 4, 2007, just hours after he was informed that Haynes had been put above him in the commissions’ chain of command. “Everyone has opinions,” Davis says. “But when he was put above me, his opinions became orders.”… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <The Nation>

Don’t get me wrong. I’d be perfectly happy to see terrorists who attacked our country tried, convicted and incarcerated for life. If they are guilty, this is what they deserve. But this issue is not about who they are or what they have done. It’s about who we are and what we do. If we can’t try these men according to the values of fairness and justice that we profess to represent, then we are no better then the terrorists. The world now knows what Bush and the GOP are conniving. They must be stopped.

Cross posted from Politics Plus