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Former Guantanamo Prosecutor Testifies on Broken Military Commissions System

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April 29, 2008

This week, Ben Wizner, Staff Attorney for the ACLU’s National Security Project, is in Guantanamo as a human rights observer for the military commission hearing of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, and blogged about yesterday’s hearing in our DailyKos diary.

The last time we were in Guantanamo observing detainee hearings, the ACLU’s Jamil Dakwar noted the trend among detainees to refuse representation by appointed U.S. military defense lawyers. It happened again yesterday, as Hamdan tried to dismiss his lawyers.But the biggest story of yesterday’s hearing was the testimony-on Hamdan’s behalf-of Air Force Colonel Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor for military commissions. As he’s stated in numerous interviews in the past, Davis asserted that the commissions were rigged from the beginning, and said he was pressured to bring trials during this election year:

…Many of Davis’s direct conflicts were not with Haynes but with Brigadier General Thomas Hartmann, the legal advisor to the commissions. Hartmann was particularly intent on prosecuting the “9/11 cases.” He told Davis that the election was coming up in 2008, and “if we don’t get these cases started, the commission system will implode. Once we get the victims’ families energized, we’ll be rolling, and when the train is rolling, it will be hard for the next president to stop.

It’s hard to determine which is worse: the military using the families of 9/11 victims for political gain in an election year, or the Bush administration riding roughshod over the rule of law in a rush to convict the detainees.We know a couple of 9/11 families who disagree with this administration of “justice.”

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