[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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