[Ppnews] The Dark Heart of the Guantánamo Trials

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Oct 3 11:30:57 EDT 2008


http://www.counterpunch.org/worthington10032008.html

October 3 - 5, 2008


Who's Pulling the Strings?


The Dark Heart of the Guantánamo Trials

By ANDY WORTHINGTON

On September 24, Col. Lawrence Morris, the chief 
prosecutor of Guantánamo’s Military Commission 
trial system, announced that Lt. Col. Darrel 
Vandeveld, the prosecutor in the case of 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/worthington10172007.html>Mohamed 
Jawad (an Afghan -- and a teenager at the time of 
his capture -- who is accused of throwing a 
grenade at a jeep containing two US soldiers and 
an Afghan translator), had asked to quit his 
assignment before his one-year contract expired.

Although Col. Morris attempted to explain that 
Lt. Col. Vandeveld was leaving “for personal 
reasons,” the real reasons were spelled out in a 
statement issued by Vandeveld 
(<http://s3.amazonaws.com/propublica/assets/docs/vandeveld_declaration_080922.pdf>PDF), 
in which he expressed his frustration and 
disappointment that “potentially exculpatory 
evidence” had “not been provided” to Jawad’s defense team:

My ethical qualms about continuing to serve as a 
prosecutor relate primarily to the procedures for 
affording defense counsel discovery. I am highly 
concerned, to the point that I believe I can no 
longer serve as a prosecutor at the Commissions, 
about the slipshod, uncertain “procedure” for 
affording defense counsel discovery. One would 
have thought 
 six years since the Commissions 
had their fitful start, that a functioning law 
office would have been set up and procedures and 
policies not only put into effect, but refined.

Instead, what I found, and what I still find, is 
that discovery in even the simplest of cases is 
incomplete or unreliable. To take the Jawad case 
as only one example -- a case where no 
intelligence agency had any significant 
involvement -- I discovered just yesterday that 
something as basic as agents’ interrogation notes 
had been entered into a database, to which I do 
not have personal access 
 These and other 
examples too legion to list are not only 
appalling, they deprive the accused of basic due 
process and subject the well-intentioned 
prosecutor to claims of ethical misconduct.

Vandeveld also stated, “My view of the case has 
evolved over time,” and proceeded to explain how 
he had come to suspect that Jawad, who has always 
denied throwing the grenade, was duped into 
joining a militant group, and was drugged before 
the attack. Michael Berrigan, the Commissions’ 
deputy chief defense counsel, added that 
prosecutors also knew that the Afghan Interior 
Ministry said that two other men had confessed to 
the same crime, although Vandeveld did not mention this in his statement.

Vandeveld added, “Based on my view of the case, I 
have advocated a pre-trial agreement under which 
Mr. Jawad would serve some relatively brief 
additional period in custody while he receives 
rehabilitation services and skills that will 
allow him to reintegrate into either Afghan or 
Pakistani society.” This, however, was turned 
down by his commanding officers. He continued: 
“One of my motivations in seeking a reasonable 
resolution of the case is that, as a juvenile at 
the time of capture, Jawad should have been 
segregated from the adult detainees, and some 
serious attempt made to rehabilitate him. I am 
bothered by the fact that this was not done.”

On October 26, as Jawad’s defense lawyer, Maj. 
David Frakt, sought to have the case dismissed 
due to “gross government misconduct,” Lt. Col. 
Vandeveld testified for the defense by video link 
from Washington D.C., explaining, as the 
Associated Press described it, that “the 
embattled military tribunal system may not be 
capable of delivering justice for Jawad or the 
victims.” “They are not served by having someone 
who may be innocent be convicted of the crime,” 
Vandeveld said, reiterating that, even after six 
years, “it is impossible for anyone in good 
conscience to stand up and say he or she is 
provided all the discovery in a case.”

Explaining more of his reasons for quitting his 
job, Vandeveld told the court that he “reached a 
turning point” when he chanced upon “key evidence 
among material scattered throughout the 
prosecutors’ office.” In another case file, he 
said he “saw for the first time a statement Jawad 
made to a military investigator probing prisoner 
abuse in Afghanistan,” and described it as “an 
episode that helped convert him from a ‘true 
believer to someone who felt truly deceived.’” He 
added that he had “even developed sympathy” for 
Jawad. “My views changed,” he said. “I am a 
father, and it's not an exercise in self-pity to 
ask oneself how you would feel if your own son was treated in this fashion.”

Lt. Col. Vandeveld’s departure -- and his reasons 
for leaving -- are another serious blow to the 
credibility of the Military Commissions, which 
were established by 
<http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2007/06/26/dick-cheney-more-horrors-from-the-vice-president-for-torture/>Dick 
Cheney and his close advisers in November 2001. 
In June 2006, they were ruled illegal by the US 
Supreme Court, and although they were revived by 
Congress later that year in the much-criticized 
Military Commissions Act, they have never escaped 
accusations that they are a parody of justice, 
designed to secure convictions at all costs. Even 
so, Lt. Col. Vandevelt’s profound criticisms of a 
system that imprisons juveniles instead of 
rehabilitating them, and that suppresses evidence 
relevant to the defense, is just part of a much 
darker narrative that has been unfolding for the last 18 months.


The role of Brig. Gen. Hartmann

 From this perspective, an even more significant 
event was the Pentagon’s announcement, on 
September 19, that Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann had 
been removed from his post as legal adviser to 
the Convening Authority overseeing the Commission 
process, which, as the Washington Post recently 
explained, is “a Pentagon office that is required 
to exercise a neutral role in the commissions, 
overseeing but not dictating the work of 
prosecutors and allocating resources to both the prosecution and defense.”

Hartmann, a reservist whose civilian job is chief 
counsel to the Connecticut-based Mxenergy 
Holdings Inc., became the legal adviser to the 
Convening Authority in July 2007, and was also 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/worthington09292007.html>required 
to “exercise a neutral role.” According to the 
rules set up for the Commissions, he was 
“supposed to provide impartial advice” to the 
Convening Authority (retired judge Susan 
Crawford), and was also supposed to “make an 
independent and informed appraisal of the charges 
and evidence,” to help Crawford “decide whether 
charges proposed by the prosecutors are sufficient to go to trial.”

However, complaints arose almost as soon as 
Hartmann was appointed. Just two months after he 
took the job, the Wall Street Journal revealed 
that Col. Morris Davis, the Commissions’ chief 
prosecutor, had filed a formal complaint alleging 
that he had “overstepped his mandate by 
interfering directly in cases.” In a letter, 
Davis suggested that both he and Hartmann should 
resign “for the good of the process,” adding, “If 
he believes in military commissions as strongly 
as I do, then let’s do the right thing and both 
of us walk away before we do more harm.”

Officials who spoke to the Journal’s Jess Bravin 
made it clear that Col. Davis was not alone in 
his complaints. A lawyer close to the process 
explained that, although Hartmann had complained 
that, after four years, the prosecution was 
“still unready to try cases,” and was frustrated 
with their “can’t do” approach, some of the 
prosecutors regarded him as “‘micromanaging’ 
cases he doesn’t fully understand.”

Brig. Gen. Hartmann escaped unscathed from Col. 
Davis’ accusations -- and in fact it was Davis, 
alone, who resigned on October 4 -- and he also 
escaped censure the following month, when, during 
a pre-trial hearing for 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/worthington11152007.html>Omar 
Khadr (the Canadian who was just 15 years old 
when he was captured in July 2002), Khadr’s 
defense team announced that they had just been 
informed of the existence of an eyewitness to the 
main crime for which Omar was being charged -- 
the death of a US soldier in a grenade attack -- 
whose testimony could exonerate their client. 
This was extraordinary enough, in and of itself, 
but what made the story particularly shocking was 
prosecutor Jeff Groharing’s admission that, as 
the Los Angeles Times described it, “he had been 
prohibited from talking about the case” by Brig. Gen. Hartmann.


Hartmann is barred from three trials

Hartmann’s luck finally ran out in May, when, 
after Col. Davis reprised his complaints in 
pre-trial hearings for 
<http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2008/08/06/a-critical-overview-of-salim-hamdans-guantanamo-trial-and-the-dubious-verdict/>Salim 
Hamdan (a driver for Osama bin Laden whose trial 
took place this summer), the judge in Hamdan’s 
case, Capt. Keith Allred, 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/worthington05172008.html>disqualified 
him from playing any role in Hamdan’s trial, 
ruling that he was “too closely allied with the 
prosecution,” and that “national attention 
focused on this dispute has seriously called into 
question the legal adviser’s ability to continue 
to perform his duties in a neutral and objective 
manner.” Allred added, “Telling the chief 
prosecutor (and other prosecutors) that certain 
types of cases would be tried and that others 
would not be tried, because of political factors 
such as whether they would capture the 
imagination of the American people, be sexy, or 
involve blood on the hands of the accused, 
suggests that factors other than those pertaining 
to the merits of the case were at play.”

In August, Hartmann was 
<http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2008/09/10/controversy-still-plagues-guantanamos-military-commissions/>excluded 
from Mohamed Jawad’s trial for the same reasons. 
Jawad’s lawyer, Maj. David Frakt, told the judge, 
Col. Stephen Henley, that Hartmann “usurped the 
role of a prosecutor -- rather than acting 
dispassionately -- and pushed to get Jawad 
charged because the case involved battlefield 
bloodshed.” Frakt also pointed out that Hartmann 
had “failed to turn over defense documents” to 
Susan Crawford, even though these documents 
“outlined mitigating circumstances that might 
have altered her decision to endorse the 
charges.” He also secured testimony from an 
unlikely ally, Brig. Gen. Zanetti, the deputy 
commander of Guantánamo’s Joint Task Force, who 
declared that Hartmann’s demeanor was “abusive, 
bullying and unprofessional 
 pretty much across 
the board,” and described his approach to the 
Commissions as, “Spray and pray. Charge 
everybody. Let’s go. Speed, speed, speed.”

Three weeks ago, Hartman was barred for a third 
time, this time from any post-trial review in 
Omar Khadr’s case. The judge, Col. Patrick 
Parrish, had refused a request from Khadr’s 
lawyers to disqualify Hartmann from involvement 
in Khadr’s trial, but he barred Hartmann from 
reviewing it, in the case of a conviction, for 
the same reasons as those described above.

To add to the criticism, Lt. Col. Vandeveld also 
tore into Hartmann as he announced his departure 
from the Commissions. The Los Angeles Times spoke 
to a Pentagon official, who explained that 
“Vandeveld had defended Hartmann against the 
undue-influence allegations in the Jawad case in 
recent weeks but lost,” and Hartmann “had 
retaliated against him, causing the prosecutor 
emotional distress and prompting him to quit and go public with his concerns.”

News of Brig. Gen. Hartmann’s departure was 
telegraphed three weeks ago, in the wake of the 
Khadr ruling, when Charles “Cully” Stimson, a 
former deputy assistant secretary for detainee 
affairs, stepped forward to suggest that, under a 
“three strikes and you’re out” philosophy, 
Hartmann should resign. Stimson explained that he 
was particularly concerned about challenges and 
appeals frustrating the forthcoming trial of 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/worthington02122008.html>Khalid 
Sheikh Mohammed and his co-conspirators in the 
9/11 attacks, which Hartmann “helped shepherd.”


Hartmann’s extraordinary promotion

Instead of losing his job, however, Brig. Gen. 
Hartmann was actually promoted to a new post, as 
Director of Operations, Planning and Development 
for the Commissions, responsible, as the 
Associated Press put it, for “such activities as 
the hiring of dozens of lawyers and paralegals 
and ensuring there are adequate resources for the 
massive legal undertaking.” His deputy, retired 
Army Col. Michael Chapman, took over as legal adviser.

In the Miami Herald, Carol Rosenberg shrewdly 
realized that the Pentagon had hoped to bury the 
news of Hartmann’s reassignment. Explaining that 
the announcement “ended weeks of speculation on 
the fate of Hartmann with little fanfare,” she 
noted that it was issued “on Friday afternoon, a 
time considered in Washington circles to be when 
the Defense Department disposes of uncomfortable 
business.” This was certainly true, but it soon 
became clear that what was particularly 
“uncomfortable” about the “business” was not 
Hartmann’s removal as legal adviser, but the 
significance of his effective promotion to a new job.

Although the Associated Press reported that the 
new job “takes Hartmann away from direct 
supervision of the prosecution,” other observers 
were not convinced. The Washington Post reported 
that Human Rights Watch had stated that “instead 
of trying to clean up house, the Pentagon has now 
moved a man accused of bullying prosecutors to 
bring cases to trial and dismissing concerns 
about evidence being tainted by torture into a 
position coordinating all matters relating to the commissions.”

In addition, Col. Davis compared the reassignment 
to that of Russia’s former Premier and his newly 
promoted protégé, saying, “Elevating his deputy 
and leaving him in the process, I'm afraid, will 
be like the Vladimir Putin-Dmitry Medvedev 
relationship where there's some real doubt over 
who pulls the strings.” Speaking to the AP, Davis 
was even blunter, comparing Hartmann to a 
“cancer” that had infected the entire Commission 
process. “The only way to ensure cancer can do no 
harm,” he said, “is to get it out of the body.”

Noticeably, Hartmann himself confirmed that his 
reassignment was anything but a punishment. “I 
feel like it's an elevation, a promotion, because 
it recognizes ... the exponential growth of the 
commissions,” the AP reported him as saying, and 
in the Washington Post he claimed that, although 
“the recent court rulings forced him and others 
at the Pentagon to think about his role,” the 
reason for his new assignment was that “he and 
his superiors thought that the ‘best way to run 
the system was to take this more senior leadership position.”

Hartmann continued crowing in comments to the 
Miami Herald. Likening his new job to that of a 
“chief executive officer at a 250-staff corporate 
headquarters,” and adding that he “had no fixed 
budget,” he declared that his biggest challenge 
was “to keep the process moving, really 
intensely.” He added, “Everybody needs to start 
seeing more trials. I want those courtrooms to be 
as filled up as they can possibly be -- six days a week.”

While this is nothing short of despicable, given 
the condemnation of Hartmann’s pro-prosecution 
bias by three government-appointed judges, what 
no one has yet done in the last two weeks is to 
look behind the scenes to see what Hartmann’s 
reassignment reveals about the whole command 
structure of the Military Commissions. And when 
this is looked at in detail, Hartmann appears, 
shockingly, to be little more than a puppet 
(albeit a willing and hard-working one), whose 
reassignment is a reward to prevent him from 
being a sacrifice, which was bestowed upon him by 
his masters -- in the Pentagon, and in the Office 
of the Vice President -- who have no interest in 
establishing a fair or just process at Guantánamo.


Who’s pulling the strings?

To understand this story we need to look back, 
beyond Hartmann’s appointment, to February 2007, 
when Susan Crawford was appointed as the 
Commissions’ Convening Authority. In a revelatory 
article for 
<http://harpers.org/archive/2008/02/hbc-90002460>Harper’s 
Magazine this February, Scott Horton examined the 
source of the “cancer” referred to by Col. Davis, 
and traced it back to a plea bargain struck, for 
political reasons, in the first trial by Military 
Commission to go ahead: that of the Australian 
David Hicks, who admitted to providing material 
support for terrorism in March 2007, in exchange 
for a nine-month sentence to be served back in Australia.

What happened, it was later 
<http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2007/10/23/the-politics-of-david-hicks-release-from-guantanamo-confirmed-plea-bargain-arranged-between-cheney-and-howard/>revealed, 
was that Australian Premier John Howard, who was 
seeking re-election, had been struggling in the 
polls, partly because the previously ignored 
plight of Hicks had become a political hot 
potato. Anxious to help one of his few stout 
allies in the “War on Terror,” Vice President 
Dick Cheney paid Howard a quick visit, and on 
returning home appointed a new Convening 
Authority for the Military Commissions, retired 
judge Susan J. Crawford, who, as Horton noted, 
was “a Cheney protégée,” and was, moreover, 
“particularly close to Cheney’s chief of staff 
David Addington,” the prime architect not only of 
the Commissions, but also of the majority of the 
administration’s post-9/11 flight from the Geneva 
Conventions and the UN Convention Against Torture.

With Crawford in place -- and assistance from 
William J. Haynes II, the Pentagon’s General 
Counsel, who was “known for his tight connections 
with the Vice President’s Office” -- a plea 
bargain was negotiated with Hicks’ lawyers, and 
the sidelining of Col. Davis began in earnest.

As Hicks’ trial got underway, Col. Davis 
“confidently delivered a searing opening 
promising to make Hicks out as a bloodthirsty 
figure who had betrayed his homeland and turned 
to a path of ‘Islamic’ violence,” as Scott Horton 
described it. He was both humiliated and dismayed 
when the plea bargain was revealed, as neither 
he, nor any of the other prosecutors, had been 
informed of the deal cut by Cheney, Addington, Crawford and Haynes.

This, of course, explains why, although Col. 
Davis maintained a dignified silence at the time, 
his frayed patience began to unravel in July, 
when Brig. Gen. Hartman assumed his new role as 
Susan Crawford’s legal adviser. Hartmann took 
charge of the prosecution office while Davis was 
away, recovering from surgery, and he proceeded 
to take advantage of Davis’ absence to shake 
things up as he -- and his masters -- saw fit.

The most significant date, however, is October 3, 
the day before Col. Davis’ resignation, as it was 
then, as Scott Horton described it, that Haynes 
“crafted and secured Deputy Secretary of Defense 
Gordon England’s signature on two documents,” 
which sealed a significant change in the command 
structure of the Commissions. The 
<http://harpers.org/media/image/blogs/misc/mforlgladvoffconvauthreapptofhartmannt100307.pdf>first 
established that Hartmann would report to Paul 
Ney, the Defense Department’s Deputy General 
Counsel (Legal Counsel), who in turn reported to 
Haynes, and the 
<http://harpers.org/media/image/blogs/misc/depsecdefmemforchprosomcreapptofdavism100307.pdf>second 
placed Col. Davis in the chain of command under 
Hartmann. This second memorandum, as Horton 
explained, “was particularly necessary as an 
after-the-fact adjustment to cover Haynes’s 
manipulation of the Hicks case, establishing a 
chain-of-command justification for his 
intervention to direct the plea bargain resolution of the case.”


The former chief prosecutor turns

This, then, was the specific reason why, in a 
blistering op-ed in the 
<http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-oe-davis10dec10,1,743034.story?ctrack=1&cset=true>Los 
Angeles Times two months after his resignation, 
Col. Davis stated, “I was the chief prosecutor 
for the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay, 
Cuba, until Oct. 4, the day I concluded that 
full, fair and open trials were not possible 
under the current system. I resigned on that day 
because I felt that the system had become deeply 
politicized and that I could no longer do my job effectively or responsibly.”

Although Col. Davis was critical of Brig. Gen. 
Hartmann, he explained that the particular 
trigger for his decision was the memo described 
above, informing him that he had been placed in a 
chain of command under Haynes. Stating that he 
resigned “a few hours after” being informed of 
this, he mentioned that “Haynes was a 
controversial nominee for a lifetime appointment 
to the US 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, but his 
nomination died in January 2007, in part because 
of his role in authorizing the use of the 
aggressive interrogation techniques some call 
torture.” He added, “I had instructed the 
prosecutors in September 2005 [shortly after 
taking the job] that we would not offer any 
evidence derived by 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/worthington02072008.html>waterboarding, 
one of the aggressive interrogation techniques 
the administration has sanctioned.”

Haynes, of course, was not only involved in the 
approval of “enhanced interrogation techniques” 
for use at Guantánamo; he also helped develop the 
concept of holding prisoners as “enemy 
combatants” without charge or trial, and without 
the protections of the Geneva Conventions, and 
played a part in the process that led to holding 
an American citizen, 
<http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2008/01/22/why-jose-padillas-17-year-prison-sentence-should-shock-and-disgust-all-americans/>Jose 
Padilla, as an “enemy combatant” on the US mainland.

Col. Davis was also critical of the role played 
not only by Hartmann and Haynes, but also by 
Susan Crawford, and he was dismayed by what he 
described as Hartmann and Crawford’s desire to 
conduct trials “behind closed doors.” 
“Transparency is critical,” he wrote, adding that 
it was “absolutely critical to the legitimacy of 
the military commissions that they be conducted 
in an atmosphere of honesty and impartiality,” 
and pointing out that “even the most perfect 
trial in history will be viewed with scepticism 
if it is conducted behind closed doors.”

Davis also directed a specific attack at Susan 
Crawford, explaining that “the political 
appointee known as the ‘convening authority’ -- a 
title with no counterpart in civilian courts -- 
was not living up to that obligation.” As he 
described it, Crawford, unlike her predecessor 
Maj. Gen. John Altenburg, whose staff had “kept 
its distance from the prosecution to preserve its 
impartiality,” had overstepped her administrative 
role, and “had her staff assessing evidence 
before the filing of charges, directing the 
prosecution’s pre-trial preparation of cases 
(which began while I was on medical leave), 
drafting charges against those who were accused 
and assigning prosecutors to cases.” He 
continued: “Intermingling convening authority and 
prosecutor roles perpetuates the perception of a 
rigged process stacked against the accused.”

In this first, considered outburst, Col. Davis 
laid out, with admirable clarity, a contaminated 
chain of command -- indifferent to the use of 
torture by US forces, dedicated to using the 
poisoned fruit of that torture in trials at 
Guantánamo, and committed, essentially, to 
conducting “a rigged process stacked against the 
accused” -- that led from Hartmann to Crawford 
and Haynes, and from there to Dick Cheney and David Addington.


“No acquittals”

And if further proof were needed that Haynes was 
the link connecting the supposedly impartial 
Convening Authority and her legal adviser from 
the ferociously biased Vice President and his 
chief of staff, this came in February this year, 
when Col. Davis told Ross Tuttle of the 
<http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080303/tuttle>Nation 
about a conversation he had with Haynes in August 2005.

“[Haynes] said these trials will be the Nuremberg 
of our time,” recalled Davis, referring to the 
Nazi tribunals in 1945, considered the model of 
procedural rights in the prosecution of war 
crimes. In response, Davis said he noted that at 
Nuremberg there had been some acquittals, which 
had lent great credibility to the proceedings.

“I said to him that if we come up short and there 
are some acquittals in our cases, it will at 
least validate the process,” Davis continued. “At 
which point, [Haynes's] eyes got wide and he 
said, ‘Wait a minute, we can't have acquittals. 
If we've been holding these guys for so long, how 
can we explain letting them get off? We can't 
have acquittals. We've got to have convictions.’”

Although Haynes announced his sudden retirement 
shortly after his conversation with Col. Davis 
was revealed, his place as the intermediary 
between the Office of Military Commissions and 
the Vice President’s Office has been seamlessly 
filled by the Pentagon’s Acting General Counsel, Daniel Dell’Orto.

A “career official at the Pentagon,” as Philippe 
Sands described him in Vanity Fair, Dell’Orto had 
accompanied Haynes and then-White House Counsel 
Alberto Gonzales when they presented the media 
with a carefully calibrated justification of the 
administration’s actions in the wake of the Abu 
Ghraib scandal in June 2004, and in July 2006, 
after the Supreme Court had struck down the 
Commissions’ first incarnation as illegal (in 
Hamdan v. Rumsfeld), he told the Senate Committee 
on the Judiciary that the Commissions were “an 
indispensable tool for the dispensation of 
justice in the chaotic and irregular 
circumstances of armed conflict.” Ignoring the 
fact that prisoners seized in wartime should be 
granted the protections of the Geneva 
Conventions, he also claimed, “It would greatly 
impede intelligence collection essential to the 
war effort to tell detainees before interrogation 
that they are entitled to legal counsel, that 
they need not answer questions, and that their 
answers may be used against them in a criminal trial.”


The dark heart

What I find particularly fascinating, however, is 
the way in which Susan Crawford has, to date, 
been shielded from allegations of impropriety by 
the activities of Brig. Gen. Hartmann. I’m 
grateful to Scott Horton not only for demolishing 
notions of Crawford’s independence by pointing 
out her close ties with Dick Cheney and David 
Addington, but also for including a specific 
anecdote that demonstrates the strength of her 
relationship with the Vice President’s chief of 
staff. “At an event held last year to mark 
Crawford’s retirement as a military appeals 
judge,” Horton wrote, “she went out of her way to 
note the presence of and thank just one person, her friend David Addington.”

In addition, one reporter, William Glaberson, 
raised pertinent questions about Crawford’s role 
after Salim Hamdan’s trial this summer. “There 
were unknowns,” Glaberson wrote in the New York 
Times. “A Pentagon official, Susan J. Crawford, 
has broad power over the entire tribunal process, 
including naming the military officers eligible 
to hear the case. Her title, convening authority, 
has no civilian equivalent. Her decisions to 
grant or deny financing for items like the 
defense’s expert witness fees or defense lawyers’ 
transportation were not explained during the 
trial. She has never granted an interview to a reporter.”

Crawford’s mentor, David Addington, never grants 
interviews either, but Brig. Gen. Hartmann’s 
cynical promotion, and Lt. Col. Vandeveld’s 
resignation, will hopefully bring the crucial 
role in the Commission process that is played by 
Susan Crawford, David Addington and Dick Cheney 
into sharper relief. This is of critical 
importance, as the deliberate suppression of 
evidence that is essential to the defense appears to be endemic.

In Mohamed Jawad’s case, this has been 
highlighted twice -- first in August, when Col. 
Henley not only excluded Hartmann from 
involvement in Jawad’s case, but also ordered 
“potentially exculpatory information” to be sent 
to Susan Crawford, and on Wednesday by Lt. Col. 
Vandeveld, who, as the Los Angeles Times 
reported, “said military prosecutors routinely 
withhold exculpatory evidence from the defense in terrorism cases.”

In August, Henley refused to order the charges 
against Jawad to be dropped entirely, and, 
instead, made a request for Crawford to review 
the charges, indicating that it was up to her to 
decide whether to “drop or reduce them,” but I 
believe that this analysis of the Commission’s 
chain of command, and the exposure of Crawford’s 
spectral impartiality, casts serious doubt on the 
trust that Henley placed in Crawford, and 
indicates that, seven weeks after Henley made his 
ruling, the Convening Authority either has not 
received the exculpatory information, or has chosen to ignore it.

We end, therefore, where we began, with Lt. Col. 
Vandeveld, and his courageous refusal to play out 
his role in a rigged and one-sided process that 
would imprison a young Afghan for life by 
suppressing inconvenient evidence -- such as the 
fact that he may not have actually been 
responsible for the alleged crime of which he is 
accused. What happens next is unknown, but it’s 
certain that lawyers for other prisoners facing 
trial by Military Commission -- Omar Khadr, for 
example, and British resident 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/worthington08302008.html>Binyam 
Mohamed, whose lawyers recently took his case to 
the British High Court in an attempt to secure 
access to exculpatory evidence -- will be doing 
their damnedest to ensure that they pursue those 
responsible for rigging the system all the way up the chain of command.

Andy Worthington is a British historian, and the 
author of 
'<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0745326641/counterpunchmaga>The 
Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 
Detainees in America's Illegal Prison' (published 
by Pluto Press). Visit his website at: 
<http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/>www.andyworthington.co.uk
He can be reached at: 
<mailto:andy at andyworthington.co.uk>andy at andyworthington.co.uk



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