The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) obtained two leaked emails from
former military prosecutors at Guantanamo Bay over the weekend. The emails 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 email 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 ... I lie awake
worrying about this every night," he wrote.
"I find it almost impossible to focus on my part of mission ... After
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 emails to his superior he was transferred
from his post.
In the second email obtained by the ABC, Captain John Carr, who also left his
position after his email 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 wrote.
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 US 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 of 2003, 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.