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"The Worst is Yet to Come"

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March 31, 2008

While the military lawyer for Salim Ahmed Hamdan filed his motion to dismiss on Thursday citing unlawful political interference into the military commissions system, it wasn’t until this weekend that this story really caught fire, and yielded some great commentary on the blogs.

In Saturday’s No Comment column in Harper’s blog, Scott Horton delved into Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brian Mizer’s motion to dismiss and highlighted some of the pressure coming from Bush administration officials to prosecute some Gitmo detainees around the time the elections ramp up this year. On Page 3 of the brief:

On September 29, 2006, Colonel Davis attended a meeting of the Special Detainee Follow-Up Group. The meeting was held in Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England’s office and was attended by Mr. England and Mr. Haynes. During the meeting, Mr. England raised the issue of charging so-called high value detainees: ‘We need to think about charging some of the high-value detainees because there could be strategic political value to charging some of these detainees before the election.’

There you have it, ladies and gents: the GOP is casting the detainees who have been languishing at Guantanamo, many for as long as six years, in the political theater known as the 2008 Election. Or as Horton put it: “Apparently, the Gitmo defendants were to be trotted out for a prime-time kill midway in the election cycle, like victims dragged into the Roman circus maximus to be devoured by the lions.”

Horton also points to the Bush administration’s dissatisfaction with the JAG lawyers who are running the military commissions: they’re not loyal enough to the GOP (sound familiar?), and are putting professionalism and dedication to justice and the law before their political affiliation. The nerve!

In the view of the Bush Administration, this is all about securing convictions according to the proper broadcast and election timetable. Acquittals must be excluded. Hence, the rules are rewritten to bring all these lawyers under the ‘command’ of Republican hacks in the Defense Department.

Horton concludes: “Perhaps you thought the worst Gitmo embarrassments were now past. Brace yourself: the worst is yet to come.”

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