Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ex Gitmo Chief Prosecutor - Witness For Hamdan Defense

By Cernig

Wow - this says volumes.
In a stunning turnaround, the former chief military prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay said Thursday he would be a defense witness for the driver of Osama bin Laden.

Air Force Col. Morris Davis, who resigned in October over alleged political interference in the U.S. military tribunals, told The Associated Press he will appear at a hearing for Salim Ahmed Hamdan.

"I expect to be called as a witness ... I'm more than happy to testify," Davis said in a telephone interview from Washington. He called it "an opportunity to tell the truth."

At the April pretrial hearing inside the U.S. military base in southeast Cuba, Hamdan's defense team plans to argue that alleged political interference cited by Davis violates the Military Commissions Act, said Hamdan's military lawyer, Navy Lt. Brian Mizer.

Davis alleges, among other things, that Pentagon general counsel William Haynes said in August 2005 that any acquittals of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo would make the United States look bad, calling into question the fairness of the proceedings.

"He said, 'We can't have acquittals, we've got to have convictions,'" Davis recalled.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, denied that Haynes made such a comment. Gordon also denied the former prosecutor's allegations of political interference, which he has repeated in newspaper opinion columns and in interviews in recent months.
Reports say it's unclear whether Davis will be allowed to testify by the Pentagon. He's still head of the Air Force judiciary and the Defense Department ordered him not to appear before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee back in December. If he is not alowed to appear for Hamdan's defesne, many will see that as a tacit admission of his allegations and that the commission cases are fixed before they begin.

Nor is Davis the only one speaking out. As Scott Horton noted today:
Three others–Maj. Robert Preston, Capt. John Carr and Capt. Carrie Wolf–asked to be relieved of duties after saying they were concerned that the process was rigged. One said he had been assured he didn’t need to worry about building a proper case; convictions were assured.
Those convictions have been assured, in part, by evidence obtained by torture at Gitmo and elsewhere - for which detainees were subjected to illegal rendition. They are illegal because it is against both international and US law to transport a prisoner to a place where he will be tortured. The US government has long denied such flights took place at all, in the face of a large body of evidence including pictures of aircraft , flight numbers and detainee testimonies - but today had to admit to two which touched down at a British airbase.

Also today, the Daily Telegraph, not at all a bastion of liberal thought, has a report from its crime correspondent on the case of Bisher al-Rawi:
Mr al-Rawi was detained first in Gambia, along with his Jordanian business partner Jamil al-Banna, at Banjul airport on a business trip in November 2002. The pair said they were in Gambia to set up a factory processing peanut oil.

Mr al-Rawi was rendered into detention in "the dark prison" in Kabul, Afghanistan. He claims he was denied food, water and light.

He was then taken to Bagram airbase, where he said he was beaten up and then on to Guantanamo Bay in early 2003, where he was interrogated for four years before finally being released in March 2006.

The authorities claimed they were planning to set up a terrorist training camp and were going to funnel profits from the peanut oil plant to fund al-Qaeda.

Lawyer Rabinder Singh has said the arrests were "far from any theatre of war".

He was interrogated about his links to the controversial cleric Abu Qatada.

But the British government apparently now accepts that he was helping MI5 to keep watch on Abu Qatada.
Imagine, illegally flown to prisons where he would be tortured by Americans and their allies, for potentially endangering his own life by helping British intelligence.

(h/t Kat)

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