[Ppnews] Ex-Prosecutor at Gitmo to Aid Defense
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Feb 21 19:26:57 EST 2008
Ex-Prosecutor at Gitmo to Aid Defense
By BEN FOX 1 hour ago
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) 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, Hamdan's military lawyer, Navy Lt. Brian Mizer, told the AP.
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.
If the judge rejects the motion to dismiss, Mizer
said the defense will seek to remove two top
officials in the military commissions system
legal adviser Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas
Hartmann and Convening Authority Susan Crawford
from Hamdan's case. This would likely result in
further delays to a trial that has been stalled by legal challenges.
It is not clear whether the Pentagon which
defends the commission system as fair will
allow Davis to testify. In December, two months
after he resigned as the chief prosecutor for the
Guantanamo war crimes tribunals, the Defense
Department barred Davis from appearing before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee.
The U.S. holds about 275 men at Guantanamo and
plans to prosecute about 80 before military
commissions. The Pentagon this month charged six
detainees with murder and war crimes for the
Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and said they could be executed if convicted.
Hamdan faces up to life in prison if the tribunal
convicts him of conspiracy and supporting
terrorism. His lawyers admit he was a driver for
bin Laden, but say he had no significant role in
planning or carrying out attacks against the U.S.
Davis, now head of the Air Force judiciary, said
he believes "there are some very bad men at
Guantanamo and some of them deserve the death
penalty." But he says civilian political
appointees have improperly interfered with the work of military prosecutors.
"I think the rules are fair," he said. "I think
the problem is having political appointees
injected into the system. They are looking for a
political outcome, not justice."
He alleges, for example, that senior officials
pushed for a plea bargain in March 2007 for
Australian David Hicks, allowing him to serve a
nine-month sentence in his homeland for aiding the Taliban.
Davis said the sentence was too lenient and was
orchestrated to help Australian Prime Minister
John Howard, who was under criticism domestically
for his support of President Bush and U.S. policies.
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