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Third Strike Against Hartmann

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September 5, 2008

A few weeks ago, we wrote about how a Guantánamo military commissions judge found that Brigadier General Thomas Hartmann, the Legal Advisor to the Convening Authority in the Department of Defense Office of Military Commissions (say that title five times fast!), had exerted unlawful influence over the prosecution in the case against prisoner Mohammed Jawad. Earlier, Hartmann had been barred from all aspects of the Salim Hamdan trial, for the same reason.

Well, it’s happened again. For the third time, in the case of Canadian national Omar Khadr, a military commissions judge has found reason to question Hartmann’s influence. The International Herald-Tribune writes:

The judge, Army Col. Patrick J. Parrish, said Air Force Brig Gen. Thomas Hartmann has “created the appearance that he will be unable to remain neutral and impartial” in Omar Khadr’s post-trial process because of his “extremely active approach” as legal adviser.

Some details behind Hartmann’s “extremely active approach” can be found in a story Ross Tuttle wrote for The Nation in July, discussing the Jawad case:

According to a document filed in court by [detainee Mohammed] Jawad’s attorney on July 15, Brig. General Thomas Hartmann, the highest-ranking officer and top lawyer overseeing Guantánamo’s military tribunals, has misled the court, the press and the American public, and should be disqualified from the process. Major David Frakt, Jawad’s defense counsel, brings to light new evidence that Hartmann has been deeply involved in prosecutorial matters–a role that contradicts his mandate to provide impartial legal advice to the office of the Convening Authority which runs the Commissions–raising serious doubts about the ability of the Commissions to administer justice. (emphasis ours)

This is in addition to Hartmann’s pressure on government attorneys to prosecute the “sexy” cases in the run-up to the November election.

How many more times does this have to happen for everyone to acknowledge that these commissions are deeply flawed and rigged from the start?

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