Former Gitmo Prosecutor Testifies for Defense
Air Force Colonel Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor for Guantanamo Bay, recently testifed for the defense on behalf of a terror suspect. Specifically, he testified to the unwillingness of the Pentagon to hold fair hearings for detainees.
Sitting just feet from the courtroom table where he had once planned to make cases against military detainees, Air Force Col. Morris Davis instead took the witness stand to declare under oath that he felt undue pressure to hurry cases along so that the Bush administration could claim before political elections that the system was working.
His testimony in a small, windowless room — as a witness for Salim Ahmed Hamdan, an alleged driver for Osama bin Laden — offered a harsh insider’s critique of how senior political officials have allegedly influenced the system created to try suspected terrorists outside existing military and civilian courts.
Davis’s claims, which the Pentagon has previously denied, were aired here as the Supreme Court nears a decision on whether the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that laid the legal foundation for these hearings violates the Constitution by barring any of the approximately 275 remaining Guantanamo Bay prisoners from forcing a civilian judicial review of their detention.
Davis told Navy Capt. Keith J. Allred, who presided over the hearing, that top Pentagon officials, including Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon R. England, made it clear to him that charging some of the highest-profile detainees before elections this year could have “strategic political value.”
Davis said he wants to wait until the cases — and the military commissions system — have a more solid legal footing. He also said that Defense Department general counsel William J. Haynes II, who announced his retirement in February, once bristled at the suggestion that some defendants could be acquitted, an outcome that Davis said would give the process added legitimacy.
“He said, ‘We can’t have acquittals,’ ” Davis said under questioning from Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brian Mizer, the military counsel who represents Hamdan. ” ‘We’ve been holding these guys for years. How can we explain acquittals? We have to have convictions.’ “
Read the whole thing. Res ipsa loquitor.
Given that we are in election season, I thought it might be interesting to see what official positions the three major Presidential candidates have on the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. So I went to each candidate’s website, clicked on their “Issues” link, and tried to find what each of them said. Here’s what I found:
Now, it happens that I know that McCain, Clinton, and Obama have all expressed a willingness to shut down Guantanamo Bay and restore habeus corpus rights and hold fair hearings to determine the proper status of all the detainees. I am, however, quite disappointed that none of them seems willing to say so in the Issues portion of their campaign sites.