Guantanamo’s Legal System Described As Chaotic By Former Prosecutor

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Guantanamo Bay, Law

I’m not exactly sure what legal solution Obama will be applying to the enemy combatants currently being detained, but it seems that anything is better than the nothingburger they have in place currently.

From Wash Post:

A former military prosecutor said in a declaration filed in federal court yesterday that the system of handling evidence against detainees at Guantanamo Bay is so chaotic that it is impossible to prepare a fair and successful prosecution.

Darrel Vandeveld, a former lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, filed the declaration in support of a petition seeking the release of Mohammed Jawad, an Afghan who has been held at the military prison in Cuba for six years. Jawad was a juvenile when he was detained in Kabul in 2002 after a grenade attack that severely wounded two U.S. Special Forces soldiers and their interpreter.

Vandeveld, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was the lead prosecutor against Jawad until he asked to be relieved of his duties last year, citing a crisis of conscience. He said the case has been riddled with problems, including alleged physical and psychological abuse of Jawad by Afghan police and the U.S. military, as well as reliance on evidence that was later found to be missing, false or unreliable.

But the military is saying this is a case of sour grapes…

“I am happy to respond under oath to any of the allegations,” Col. Lawrence Morris, chief military prosecutor, said in an e-mailed statement. Vandeveld, he said, “was disappointed when I did not choose him to become a team leader, and he asked to resign shortly thereafter, never having raised an ethical concern during the 9 months I supervised him. I relied on his representations to me about Jawad and other cases I entrusted to him (which included his advocacy of a 40-year sentence for Mr. Jawad the week before he departed).”

Obviously Vandeveld denies the charge, and one has to think that the evidence is on his side.

But regardless of whether he’s telling the truth or not, what has gone on at Guantanamo is a text book case of America acting first and asking questions later. Because there is no good legal justification for what we’re doing right now. I know we continue to try and justify it as what we would do during war time, but this isn’t a war. It’s a constant struggle against Islamic extremism…and that’s going to go on forever. Sorry to deliver the bad news to those of you who thought we could get rid of terrorism, but we can’t. We can only hope to minimize it into a nuisance.

Still, I heard Pat Buchanan talk last night about the WoT as if it were a war with a definitive end, and I just continue to shake my head and wonder why incredibly smart people somehow don’t understand that you can’t declare “war” on a tactic. Well, you can, but you lose all credibility eventually when it becomes obvious that your logic has a massive hole in it.

One thing’s for sure…there will be more Vandevelds once Guantanamo is closed and it’s time to write about what really happened at this place. And that’s a history I hope we never forget.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 14th, 2009 and is filed under Guantanamo Bay, Law. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Guantanamo’s Legal System Described As Chaotic By Former Prosecutor”

  1. Matthew W Daloisio Says:

    I am one of the over 100 people in the United States, currently on a liquid only fast from Jan 11 – Jan 20 in solidarity with the men in Guantanamo.

    The challenges of not closing Guantanamo far outweigh any of the challenges of closing it. For the 70 men currently on hunger strike in Guantanamo, it has already been seven years too long…and any additional day is another too many.

    YES WE CAN close Guantanamo. NO WE CAN’T wait another year.

    Join us…. http://www.100dayscampaign.org

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