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Leaked E-Mails Say Guantanamo Trials Rigged

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  • Dan Clore
    News & Views for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo Monday, August 1, 2005 http://www.ABC.net Leaked E-Mails Say Guantanamo Trials
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      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

      Monday, August 1, 2005
      http://www.ABC.net
      Leaked E-Mails Say Guantanamo Trials Rigged
      by Leigh Sales

      Leaked emails from two former prosecutors claim the military
      commissions set up to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay are
      rigged, fraudulent, and thin on evidence against the accused.

      Two emails, which have been obtained by the ABC, were sent
      to supervisors in the Office of Military Commissions in
      March of last year -- three months before Australian
      detainee David Hicks was charged and five months before his
      trial began.

      The first email is from prosecutor Major Robert Preston to
      his supervisor.

      Maj Preston writes that the process is perpetrating a fraud
      on the American people, and that the cases being pursued are
      marginal.

      "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," Maj 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."

      Maj Preston says he cannot continue to work on a process he
      considers morally, ethically and professionally intolerable.

      "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."

      Maj Preston was transferred out of the Office of Military
      Commissions less than a month later.

      Rigged?

      The second email is written by another prosecutor, Captain
      John Carr, who also ended up leaving the department.

      Capt Carr says the commissions appear to be rigged.

      "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," he wrote.

      "Instead, I find a half-hearted and disorganised effort by a
      skeleton group of relatively inexperienced attorneys to
      prosecute fairly low-level accused in a process that appears
      to be rigged."

      Capt Carr says that the prosecutors have been told by the
      chief prosecutor that the panel sitting in judgment on the
      cases would be handpicked to ensure convictions.

      "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," he said.

      Significant find

      David Hicks' defence lawyer, Major Michael Mori, says the
      documents are "highly significant".

      "For the first time, we're seeing that concerns about the
      fairness of the military commissions extend to the heart of
      the process," Maj Mori said.

      David Hicks's father, Terry, says the latest revelations
      confirm what he has suspected all along.

      "These commissions weren't set up to release people," he said.

      "These commissions were set up to make sure they were
      prosecuted and get the time that they give them, and the
      other thing we've said all along, that we believe that this
      system has been rigged as they call it."

      But the Pentagon's Brigadier General Thomas Hemingway, who
      is a legal advisor to the military commissions, says an
      investigation has found the comments are based on
      miscommunication, misunderstanding and personality conflicts.

      He says changes have been made in the prosecutors' office.

      "I think what we did is work on some restructuring in the
      office, there was some changes in the way cases were
      processed, but we found no evidence of any criminal
      misconduct, we found no evidence of any ethical violations,"
      he said.

      Brig Gen Hemingway says he does not know if the Australian
      Government has been informed of the claims.

      "I can't tell you whether they were informed formally, I
      have so many contacts with representatives of your embassy
      here in town, the exchange of information has certainly been
      constant, open and significant but whether or not we got
      down into the details of this, I really have no
      recollection," he said.

      "We certainly would have shared it with them if we found
      that there was any evidence of misconduct in the office of
      the prosecution, but we did not find any such evidence."

      'Sufficient evidence'

      Brig Gen Hemingway denies that the cases being prosecuted
      are low-level.

      "All of the cases I have recommended that the appointing
      authority refer to trial, are cases upon which I thought
      there was sufficient evidence to warrant sending to a
      fact-finder," he said.

      "In each of the four cases which have been referred, the
      appointing authority John Alterburgh made an independent
      determination that the evidence was sufficient to warrant
      trial."

      He also denies that the commission panels are being
      hand-picked to insure detainees are not acquitted.

      "I can tell you that any such assertion is clearly
      incorrect," he said.

      "There is absolutely no evidence that it is rigged."

      --
      Dan Clore

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