Former Gitmo Prosecutor Calls Tribunals Unfair

February 24, 2008 12:05 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A former Guantanamo prosecutor doubts whether the terrorist suspects charged with planning 9/11 will receive a fair trial.

30-Second Summary

According to Col. Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor for the Guantanamo military commissions, the upcoming trials of six suspected terrorists charged with orchestrating the Sept. 11 attacks have been manipulated to rule out the possibility of acquittals.

Davis resigned from his post in October, citing political pressure and the appointment of Pentagon General Counsel William Haynes to oversee the tribunals’ work.

According to a Dec. 10 op-ed Davis wrote for the Los Angeles Times, Haynes’ involvement casts “a shadow over the integrity of military commissions” because he supports the use of evidence obtained through “aggressive interrogation techniques” such as waterboarding.

In a February 2008 interview with The Nation magazine, Davis said that Haynes had told him in 2005 that the military trials “can't have acquittals. We’ve got to have convictions.”

According to Scott Horton, a Columbia University law professor, the general counsel has tried to sideline critics of the Bush administration’s support for “extreme interrogation techniques.” Thinkprogress.org calls Haynes a “forceful advocate and key architect” of the use of torture.

Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann, a Defense Department legal adviser, wrote to the Los Angeles Times to support Haynes. He denied Davis’ accusations of political pressure and argued that the United States grants “unprecedented rights to alleged war criminals.”

Commenting on Hartmann’s op-ed, law professor Amos Guiora writes that calling the detainees “war criminals” is problematic, and that Hartmann had failed to address the most important topic Davis raised—the use of illegally obtained evidence.

The legality of both the tribunal system and the detention of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay have been challenged in U.S. courts.

However, the Bush administration and its supporters have argued that the nature of the terrorist threat justifies special measures, and that the Guantanamo tribunal system complies with U.S. law.

Headline Links: Former chief prosecutor criticizes tribunals, superiors

Background: ‘Prosecutors Seek Death Penalty for Terror Suspects’

Reactions: The Defense Department attorney

Opinion & Analysis: The Guantanamo tribunals stir controversy

For and against Guantanamo

Reference: The tribunals


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