Category Archives: Military Tribunals

Brig General barred from Khadr trial.

Brigadier General Thomas Hartmann is one pissed off mutha today…which makes me happy. From Jurist:

The military judge presiding over the military commission trial of Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr on Wednesday barred US Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann [official profile] from acting as a legal advisor to the commission in Khadr’s trial. In addition to his position as legal advisor to the Department of Defense authority in charge of the commissions, Hartmann is also the supervisor of the Office of Military Commissions-Prosecution (OMC-P). The ruling[PDF] by Colonel Patrick Parrish, the judge in Khadr’s commission trial, grants a motion by Khadr’s defense lawyers to exclude Hartmann from the commission because his “extremely active approach” to his role as supervisor of the OMC-P “raises an issue about his ability to remain neutral and impartial during his post trial duties” as legal advisor to the Convening Authority. Parrish’s ruling also denied a motion brought by Khadr’s defense lawyers to dismiss the charges in the case. The Miami Herald has more. The Canadian Press has additional coverage.

Hartmann has previously been accused of bias towards prosecutors. At a Wednesday hearing, US Army Gen. Gregory Zanetti, deputy commander at Guantanamo Bay, testified [JURIST report] that Hartmann routinely bullied his counterparts and was inappropriately aggressive in seeking indictments against detainees. In May, lawyers for detainee Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] unsuccessfully moved to have charges against their client dropped because of similar allegations against Hartmann. Earlier that month, Hartman wasdisqualified from participating in the military commission trial of detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan, but he has refused to resign from his post.

Gitmo doubling up on lawyers.

From Jurist:

The Pentagon has said that an additional 108 military lawyers and paralegals will be assigned to work on the cases of prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay, twice the current number. Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, legal advisor to the Office of Military Commissions, made the announcement last Thursday, the same day as five men charged with plotting the Sept. 11 attacks were arraigned. Before a military commission at Guantanamo bay, a critical move in the legal proceedings against some of the 19 detainees awaiting trial.

Hartmann said that the additional lawyers will ensure fair trials, but critics argue that the allocation of additional resources is political, designed to finish the commissions before the November elections and to avoid the possible result of a Supreme Court ruling expected later this month on whether federal courts may consider the legality of Guantanamo detentions. Hartmann himself was recently disqualified by a US military judge from participating in the trial of Guantanamo detainee Salim Hamdan because he was deemed too closely associated with the prosecution. Reuters has more. American Forces Press Service has additional coverage. (emphasis mine)

Gee, ya think it’s remotely possible that this is political? I say that with the snark button on full tilt…

Crossposted at Sirens Chronicles, which btw has a marvelous new look. 😉

"We can’t have acquittals. We’ve got to have convictions."

I have shuddered at the thought that most, if not all, of the individuals to be tried in BushCo’s kangaroo court known as the military tribunals would be found guilty. That they would be found guilty on shoddy or non-existing evidence coerced out of them by torture and certainly without any decent representation.

Great gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands has occurred on this topic for me. This might cause some folks to see me as a loony lefty, among other things. As if that matters to me what people think of me.

I want the guilty to be found guilty…but I doubt that even a third of the people still being held in Gitmo are guilty of anything, even though they are considered ‘high value’ detainees by the people in charge.

Recently, one of those high-value guys saw the case against him dismissed. The alleged 20th hijacker, Mohammed al-Qahtani’s case came to an abrupt end. The reason? He was tortured and tortured…and tortured some more. As Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick notes:

The decision not to try him comes from the convening authority for the commissions, Susan Crawford. She didn’t give an explanation for halting the prosecution, but, then, we don’t really need one.

Lithwick’s column states the reason that we might never see any of the ‘high value’ detainees tried and automatically convicted is because of the military itself. In her and Emily Bazelon’s mind, there are honorable men and women involved in the Gitmo military commission hierarchy. While I have no doubt that some of the people involved are honorable and have a conscience, I still don’t trust the majority of them to do the ‘right thing’ and end the Gitmo madness.

Dahlia and Emily start with Charles Swift, the defense lawyer from the Navy’s Judge Advocate General Corps who was appointed in 2002 to represent Salim Hamdan. Mr. Swift was a good and honorable man, to be sure. He has even publicly voiced his opposition to the military commissions. His opposition most likely cost him his military career.

Next, they lay out the case for Col. Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor for the tribunals. He is an honorable man only because when it came time for him to actually prosecute detainees, which he had completely backed, he was stunned to learn which cases he was given. Cases without merit…but plenty of torture. From the Slate write up:

He resigned last October and went on an op-ed tear, writing that “full, fair and open trials were not possible under the current system” because it “had become deeply politicized.” Davis, who still maintains that the charges against Mr. Hamdan are “warranted by the evidence,” was called to testify in Hamdan’s case last month by the defense because of his indictment of the system.

Keith Allred is a military judge. That is pretty high up the food chain if you ask me. Allred bounced a biggie from Hamdan’s trial. Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann has been removed from any further participation in Hamdan’s prosecution by Allred because he determined that Hartmann directed prosecutors “to use evidence that the Chief Prosecutor considered tainted and unreliable, or perhaps obtained as the result of torture or coercion.” (Allred also made a finding of fact that while interviewing Davis for the chief-prosecutor position, Department of Defense Gen. Jim Haynes told him, “We can’t have acquittals. We’ve got to have convictions.” So now that’s the official account. Good to know.).

As I read further, I relax a bit. I realize that all might not be lost, that inherently good, honest people will not throw away their conscience just because their boss tells them to…they believe in the rule of law. The article rattles off four more names of individuals whose conscience trumped their bosses orders in BushCo’s kangaroo court in Gitmo:

Four others—Maj. Robert Preston, Capt. John Carr, Capt. Carrie Wolf, and Lt. Col. Stuart Couch—have also left, apparently because of micromanagement and the interference of which Davis complained, including the demand that they use what they deemed to be unreliable coerced testimony.

That these individuals have sacrificed their careers in order to hold onto their belief system makes me feel that much better. It takes a lot for someone who is a career military officer to say fuck it and go very public with their opposition to the bullshit that is the Gitmo military commission.

We can only hope more of them are waiting in the wings. Beause there is still too much time left before January 21st gets here and the next Democratic President can put an end to the madness down in Guantanamo and shut the doors forever.

Crossposted at UnCapitalist Journal