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Gitmo Panel Cooked Intel On Detainees: Army Officer

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    Gitmo Panel Cooked Intel On Detainees: Army Officer http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/062307Z.shtml San Juan, Puerto Rico - An Army officer with a key role in
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 6, 2007
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      Gitmo Panel Cooked Intel On Detainees: Army Officer

      San Juan, Puerto Rico - An Army officer with a key role in the U.S.
      military hearings at Guantanamo Bay says they relied on vague and
      incomplete intelligence and were pressured to declare detainees "enemy
      combatants," often without any specific evidence.

      His affidavit, released Friday, is the first criticism by a member
      of the military panels that determine whether detainees will continue
      to be held.

      Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham, a 26-year veteran of military
      intelligence who is an Army reserve officer and a California lawyer,
      said military prosecutors were provided with only "generic" material
      that didn't hold up to the most basic legal challenges.

      Despite repeated requests, intelligence agencies arbitrarily
      refused to provide specific information that could have helped either
      side in the tribunals, according to Abraham, who said he served as a
      main liaison between the Combat Status Review Tribunals and those
      intelligence agencies.

      "What were purported to be specific statements of fact lacked even
      the most fundamental earmarks of objectively credible evidence,"
      Abraham said in the affidavit, filed in a Washington appeals court on
      behalf of a Kuwaiti detainee, Fawzi al-Odah, who is challenging his
      classification as an "enemy combatant."

      The Pentagon had no immediate comment, but a spokesman said
      Defense Department officials were preparing a response to the affidavit.

      An attorney for al-Odah, David Cynamon, said Abraham "bravely"
      agreed to provide the affidavit when defense lawyers contacted him.

      "It proves what we all suspected, which is that the CSRTs were a
      complete sham," Cynamon said.

      Matthew J. MacLean, another al-Odah lawyer, said Abraham is the
      first member of a Combat Status Review Tribunal panel who has been
      identified, let alone been willing to criticize the tribunals in the
      public record.

      "It wouldn't be quite right to say this is the most important
      piece of evidence that has come out of the CSRT process, because this
      is the only piece of evidence ever to come out of the CSRT process,"
      MacLean said. "It's our only view into the CSRT."

      Abraham said he first raised his concerns when he was on active
      duty with the Defense Department agency in charge of the tribunal
      process from September 2004 to March 2005 and felt the issues were not
      adequately addressed. He said he decided his only recourse was to
      submit the affidavit.

      "I pointed out nothing less than facts, facts that can and should
      be fixed," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from
      his office in Newport Beach, Calif.

      The 46-year-old lawyer, who remains in the reserves, said he
      believe he had a responsibility to point out that officers "did not
      have the proper tools" to determine whether a detainee was in fact an
      enemy combatant.

      "I take very seriously my responsibility, my duties as a citizen,"
      he said.

      Cynamon said he fears the officer's military future could be in
      jeopardy. "For him to do this was a courageous thing but it's probably
      an assurance of career suicide," he said.

      The military held Combatant Status Review Tribunals for 558
      detainees at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay in 2004 and 2005,
      with handcuffed detainees appearing before panels made up of three
      officers. Detainees had a military "personal representative" instead
      of a defense attorney, and all but 38 were determined to be "enemy

      Abraham was asked to serve on one of the panels, and he said its
      members felt strong pressure to find against the detainee, saying
      there was "intensive scrutiny" when they declared a prisoner not to be
      an enemy combatant. When his panel decided the detainee wasn't an
      "enemy combatant," they were ordered to reconvene to hear more
      evidence, he said.

      Ultimately, his panel held its ground, and he was never asked to
      participate in another tribunal, he said.

      In April, the Supreme Court declined to review whether Guantanamo
      Bay detainees may go to federal court to challenge their indefinite

      Lawyers for the detainees have asked the justices to reconsider
      and included Abraham's affidavit in a filing made Friday. The
      administration opposes the request.

      Associated Press writer Matt Apuzzo in Washington contributed to
      this report.



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