[Marxism] Two Prosecutors At Guantanamo Quit in Protest (WSJ)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Mon Aug 1 06:41:49 MDT 2005

(Imagine what it must take for a US government prosecutor
to resign rather than continue in what THEY consider to 
be "rigged" trials against the US prisoners at Guantanamo?

(Hundreds of prisoners having been held for years now at
Guantanamo without being charged or tried. As this story
in the Wall Street Journal demonstrates, the story has
been concealed as the resigned prosecutors just wanted 
to go away quietly and get on with their lives. In time
we can hope that more of the details of how the trials
and prosecutions were actually organized will come out,
that is, if they ever even take place. These prosecutors
participated in this process for a long time, perhaps in
hopes that the proceedings could have a little credibility,
and then resigned when they lost all hope it could happen.

(Maj. Preston, in an email dated March 11, 2004, wrote, 
"I lie awake worrying about this every night ... writing a
motion saying that the process will be full and fair when
you don't really believe it will be is kind of hard --
particularly when you want to call yourself an officer and
a lawyer."

(And all of this from a regime which accuses CUBA of human
rights violations. Say what you like, Cuban defendants in
the much-criticized trials of 1983 at least had trials, 
defense attorneys, saw documents, received sentences, 
had family and even conjugal visits. And yet Washington,
with the collusion of the European Union, in preventing
the UN Human Rights Commission from even DISCUSSING the
matter of human rights at Guantanamo! No wonder the US
is freaked out that a subcommittee of the UNHRC took up
the case of the Cuban Five.

(For a further at Guantanamo:
http://www.guantanamohrc.org/ )

Walter Lippmann, CubaNews

August 1, 2005

Two Prosecutors
At Guantanamo
Quit in Protest

August 1, 2005; Page B1

Two Air Force prosecutors quit last year rather than take
part in military trials they considered rigged against
alleged terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Maj. John Carr, then a captain, and Maj. Robert Preston
accused fellow prosecutors of ignoring torture allegations,
failing to protect exculpatory evidence and withholding
information from superiors. Altogether, the actions "may
constitute dereliction of duty, false official statements
or other criminal conduct," Maj. Carr wrote in a March 15,
2004, email summarizing his complaints to the then-chief
prosecutor, Army Col. Fred Borch.

The email is one of several made available by officials in
the Defense Department office that provides legal counsel
to individuals charged under the military commission system
President Bush created in 2001. The officials said defense
lawyers obtained the emails last week from Col. Will Gunn,
the departing head of the office, who is retiring from the
Air Force. He couldn't be reached for comment.

Maj. Carr and Maj. Preston requested that they be
reassigned rather than participate in the proceedings. 
Maj. Carr now handles civil litigation at the Pentagon,
according to a colleague, and Maj. Preston is an instructor
at the Air Force Judge Advocate General's School at Maxwell
Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala. Neither returned calls
seeking comment.

The Defense Department says the allegations were
investigated and found to be without merit, although they
did prompt some management changes at the prosecution

The Bush administration hopes to restart the military
commissions trying Guantanamo prisoners as soon as next
month, after a federal appeals court in July found the
proceedings lawful. The ruling, by a three-judge panel that
included Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr.,
reversed a lower court that halted the proceedings in
November on the grounds that they violated due process and
U.S. obligations under the Geneva Conventions.

Lawyers for the Guantanamo defendants say they are pursuing
appeals and other court action to declare the proceedings
illegal. On Capitol Hill several lawmakers are considering
possible legislation to regulate the military commissions
and review detainee treatment. The Bush administration
argues that congressional action would interfere with
counterterrorism efforts.

Defense Department officials say several reviews, including
one by a Pentagon inspector general, found nothing to
substantiate the Carr and Preston allegations. "We found
absolutely no evidence of ethical violations, no evidence
of any criminal misconduct," says Air Force Brig. Gen.
Thomas Hemingway, legal adviser to the military
commissions' appointing authority, as the administrative
arm of the trials is called.

Gen. Hemingway acknowledges personality differences and "an
awful lot of miscommunications" in the prosecution office,
but says organizational problems have since been corrected.

Still, military lawyers assigned to defend accused
terrorists say the emails buttress longstanding complaints
about the proceedings' fairness. They say they want to
review the investigations of the former prosecutors'
allegations but haven't been given access to the findings.
"It's real concerning," says Air Force Lt. Col. Sharon
Shaffer, who is defending alleged al Qaeda accountant
Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi, who was captured in
Afghanistan. "I know both of these Air Force prosecutors,
they are very ethical, highly respected individuals."

The emails detail events in the preparation of cases
against three of the four Guantanamo prisoners currently
facing charges of war crimes.

In his email to Col. Borch, Maj. Carr describes "an
environment of secrecy, deceit and dishonesty" in the
prosecution office and suggests that despite lack of
evidence, officials initially planned to tie the defendants
to the most notorious al Qaeda attacks: the U.S. Embassy
bombings in Africa, the USS Cole, and the Sept. 11, 2001,
strikes on New York and Washington. Such charges were
scaled back, he wrote, after Justice Department officials
"appeared less than totally comfortable with our theory."

Col. Borch distributed the Carr and Preston emails
throughout his office on March 15, 2004, with a 
cover note calling the allegations "monstrous lies."

The next month, Col. Borch was reassigned to the Army's
Judge Advocate General's School in Charlottesville, Va.,
and later retired from the military. He now is court clerk
at the U.S. District Court in Raleigh, N.C. "I've moved on
with my life and don't care to discuss the case any more,"
Mr. Borch said.

Maj. Carr wrote that three prosecutors had suppressed "FBI
allegations of abuse at Bagram" by failing to forward to
superiors information they learned from Federal Bureau of
Investigation agents "over dinner and drinks." Bagram is a
military interrogation center in Afghanistan where many
prisoners were held before being taken to Guantanamo. Maj.
Carr singled out another superior officer for criticism,
Navy Cmdr. Scott Lang, accusing him of misrepresentations
regarding evidence. "Either he consciously lied to the
office or does not know the facts of his case after 18
months of working on it," Maj. Carr wrote.

Specifically, he accused Cmdr. Lang of suppressing
statements by defendant Ali Hamza Ahmad Sulayman al Bahlul
that he had been tortured. Prosecutors say Mr. Bahlul, who
was captured in Afghanistan, made al Qaeda propaganda
videos. He is charged with conspiracy to commit war crimes.

Maj. Carr suggested that Mr. Bahlul told his interrogators
that he had been tortured at a detention center after his
capture. But Cmdr. Lang denied that there was any evidence
of mistreatment during a November 2003 mock trial conducted
by prosecutors to prepare for the real trial. Moreover,
Maj. Carr wrote, his copy of Cmdr. Lang's notes detailing
the torture allegations "is now missing from my notebook."

Maj. Carr added that an FBI agent "related last week that
he called and spoke to Cmdr. Lang about the systematic
destruction of statements of the detainees, and CDR Lang
said that this did not raise any issues."

Cmdr. Lang has since retired from the Navy. He didn't
return a telephone call seeking comment.

In his email, Maj. Carr suggests that prosecutors took
steps to avoid putting comments or concerns about the
proceedings in writing. He contends that prosecutors were
providing advice to the appointing authority, the entity
that oversees the proceedings and that may rule on defense
motions and requests. After Maj. Preston told Col. Borch
that advising the authority could create "a potential
appearance of partiality, you advised him not to stop
giving advice, but to only give advice orally," Maj. Carr
wrote to Col. Borch.

Maj. Michael Mori, a Marine Corps lawyer defending another
one of the detainees charged with war crimes, David Hicks
of Australia, says the emails suggest the prosecution and
appointing authority are "all living together, just one
big, happy family."

Maj. Carr writes that Col. Borch "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."

Criticisms of the prosecution's professionalism are
sprinkled throughout the emails. Instead of "at least a
minimal effort to establish a fair process and diligently
prepare cases against significant accused," Maj. Carr
wrote, he found an amateurish attempt "to prosecute fairly
low level accused [terrorists] in a process that appears to
be rigged. It is difficult to believe that the White House
has approved this situation, and I fully expect that one
day, soon, someone will be called to answer for what our
office has been doing for the last 14 months."

President Bush authorized the military commissions to try
non-U.S. citizens alleged to be engaged in terrorism for
war crimes. The president directed that the trials be "full
and fair" but said they need not offer defendants the same
rights required by the U.S. Constitution or afforded U.S.
military defendants in courts-martial.

Maj. Preston, in an email dated March 11, 2004, wrote, 
"I lie awake worrying about this every night ... writing a
motion saying that the process will be full and fair when
you don't really believe it will be is kind of hard --
particularly when you want to call yourself an officer and
a lawyer."

More information about the Marxism mailing list