The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
two leaked e-mails from former military prosecutors at Guantanamo Bay over
the weekend. The e-mails both claim that the military committees set up to try
detainees at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba are "rigged, fraudulent, and thin on
evidence against the accused."
In the first e-mail obtained by the Australian news organization, Gitmo prosecutor
Major Robert Preston wrote to his supervisor that the trial process at Guantanamo
was perpetrating a fraud on the American public. Preston also wrote that the
cases being tried were insignificant at best.
"I consider the insistence on pressing ahead with cases that would be
marginal even if properly prepared to be a severe threat to the reputation of
the military justice system and even a fraud on the American people," Preston
wrote. "Surely they don't expect that this fairly half-arsed effort is
all that we have been able to put together after all this time.
awake worrying about this every night," he wrote.
"I find it almost impossible to focus on my part of mission.
all, writing a motion saying that the process will be full and fair when you
don't really believe it is kind of hard, particularly when you want to call
yourself an officer and lawyer."
Shortly after Preston sent these e-mails to his superior, he was transferred
from his post.
In the second e-mail obtained by the ABC, Captain John Carr, who also left
his position after his e-mail claimed that the commissions at the prison appeared
to be rigged, wrote, "When I volunteered to assist with this process and
was assigned to this office, I expected there would at least be a minimal effort
to establish a fair process and diligently prepare cases against significant
accused. Instead, I find a half-hearted and disorganized effort by a skeleton
group of relatively inexperienced attorneys to prosecute fairly low-level accused
in a process that appears to be rigged."
Carr also wrote that Gitmo
prosecutors were continually told by the chief prosecutor that the panel set
up to try detainees was specially selected in order to guarantee
"You have repeatedly said to the office that the military
panel will be handpicked and will not acquit these detainees and that we
only needed to worry about building a record for the review panel," Carr
I'm sure most readers of these pages aren't the least bit surprised by these
two former military prosecutors' allegations. As we already know, justice isn't
being dished out at Gitmo. It's being choked out. The actions of the U.S. military
in Guantanamo's court are in defiance of the Supreme Court's order in the Hamdi
v. Rumsfeld case in which Justice O'Connor, writing the majority opinion,
argued that Guantanamo detainees must be given "a meaningful opportunity
to contest the factual basis for that detention before a neutral decision maker."
Alas, fairness isn't the issue here. As
the aforementioned case guaranteed, despite the detainees "meaningful
opportunity to contest" their detentions, they are still not allowed any
meaningful legal retaliatory rights.
Writing for CounterPunch on June 29, 2004, Elaine
Cassel explained, "On this one [the Hamdi case], a 6-3 majority ruled
that those poor bastards in Guantanamo, those men that have been there for going
on three years and, we now presume, subject to all kinds of physical torture
and mental and sexual abuse, can file a petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging
their detention, but, so what? The court was silent on what trial courts will
do with the petitions. Presumably, let them file their papers then promptly
toss them out."
So there you have it: first the trials at Gitmo are rigged, then the unjustly
convicted are not allowed to challenge their incarcerations. All ethical considerations
aside, what we have here is a Constitutional crisis of epic proportions.