Terrorism

Another Gitmo Prosecutor Quits

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Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld is at least the sixth JAG officer prosecuting cases in Guantanamo Bay to resign or request a transfer in protest of how the Pentagon is administering the tribunals.  His letter of resignation was revealed late last month during proceedings in the case against accused enemy combatant Mohammed Jawad. 

Vandeveld quit because he was alarmed at what he says were gross due process violations in the Jawad case. From his letter:

My ethical qualms about continuing to serve as a prosecutor relate primarily to the procedures for affording defense counsel discovery. I am highly concerned, to the point that I believe I can no longer serve as a prosecutor at the Commissions, about the slipshod, uncertain "procedure" for affording defense counsel discovery. One would have thought that after six years since the Commissions had their fitful start, that a functioning law office would have been set up and procedures and policies not only put into effect, but refined.

Instead, what I found, and what I still find, is that discovery in even the simplest of cases is incomplete or unreliable. To take the Jawad case as only one example—a case where no intelligence agency had any significant involvement—I discovered just yesterday that something as basic as agents' interrogation notes had been entered into a database, to which I do not have personal access, on or about 11 August 2008. These and other examples too legion to list, are not only appalling, they deprive the accused of basic due process and subject the well-intentioned prosecutor to claims of ethical misconduct…

Vandeveld goes on to say that past prosecutors in Gitmo cases who have expressed similar concerns about due process experienced retaliation from higher-ups at the Pentagon.  He says he was put in a position where sharing possibly exculpatory evidence—which prosecutors are required to do in the U.S. criminal justice system—would have subjected him to career-damaging accusations that he was being overly cooperative with Guantanamo defense attorneys.  The L.A. Times reports that the officer overseeing the tribunals at the time of Vandeveld's resignation suggested he get a psychiatric evaluation.

In addition to the six prosecutors, Col. Stephen Abraham—tapped by the Bush administration to run the Guantanamo hearings—also resigned last summer, citing what he said was a deeply flawed system designed more to give the veneer of justice to predetermined convictions than to administer a fair hearing of the evidence.

(Via Ed Brayton)  

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  1. Yeah, if only drug warrior prosecutors had the same moral sensibilities.

  2. You know, I am beginning to think these proceedings may not be entirely kosher….

  3. When prosecutors start to bail, it is a little clue that something is seriously and irreparably fucked up. After all, they make their careers by winning cases, the higher profile the better. If they think the system is cocked up bad enough to turn those victories to ash in their mouths, imagine what someone who doesn’t have a direct interest in the outcome might think.

  4. I have to admit, I never had a problem with the theory of trying these people in military courts – real courts martial, not these b.s. tribunals the adminstration set up – but the possibility of retaliation does seem to be much greater within the military chain of command than the civilian legal system, and that’s a problem.

  5. This guy is just a fake soldier who’s putting his own feelings ahead of his country. He’s probably getting ready to make the liberal talk show rounds so he can tell those cowards what they want to hear and rake in the bucks.

  6. Yeah, Joni. Lieutenant Colonels are known for that. How else would they have moved so high in the military hierarchy, except by fellating their crazy-liberal superior officers, who are well known surrender-monkeys?

  7. Bashing the military for it’s go along to get along mindset is so very easy. Yet we now have six, count ’em, six JAG prosecutors quitting rather than be a part of this. I’ve no idea how many federal prosecutors have resigned over the War on Drugs Liberty and stated so publicly, yet I strongly suspect the number is considerably lower than six.*

    F. Lee Bailey once wrote that if innocent, you are better off being tried at a court martial. The Bush asdministration has been trying to subvert that process for quite some time now. It is heartening to see honorable military officers stand up to him.

    * Please correct me (with links) if I’m wrong.

  8. Can’t NCIS go in and investigate this shit?

  9. LMNOP,

    I think Joni’s yanking our chain.

    “liberal talk shows…rake in the bucks.”

  10. Bashing the military for it’s go along to get along mindset is so very easy. Yet we now have six, count ’em, six JAG prosecutors quitting rather than be a part of this.

    Honor is still, like, *a big deal* in military culture. I’m no warrior worshiper, but having a sense of honor is crucial for personal integrity in situations like these, and it does them service to have to have cultivated it.

  11. I think Joni’s yanking our chain.

    Can only hope.

  12. It’s pretty bad when even the kangaroos won’t participate in your “court”.

  13. Honor is still, like, *a big deal* in military culture. I’m no warrior worshiper, but having a sense of honor is crucial for personal integrity in situations like these, and it does them service to have to have cultivated it.

    I’m not a worshipper per se, but I am retired military which undoubtably colors my view of things. But I dare say that the military as a whole is a more moral group of folks than most other parts of government.

    Military officer’s came forward to expose My Lai. Who came forward to expose Kathryn Johnstons murder?

  14. “liberal talk shows…rake in the bucks.”

    Three words: George Soros.

  15. Military officer’s came forward to expose My Lai. Who came forward to expose Kathryn Johnston’s murder?

    However, I think the fact that many SWAT members are ex-military cutouts hurts the general argument a little bit.

    Three words: George Soros.

    ROFL. Either Joni is joking or an idiot. I’m strangely comfortable with either explanation.

  16. ROFL. Either Joni is joking or an idiot. I’m strangely comfortable with either explanation.

    Either way, I think we can all agree that the important thing is that he loves Chachi.

  17. However, I think the fact that many SWAT members are ex-military cutouts hurts the general argument a little bit.

    Yeah, it does. I wonder how many were career types. Using the slightly less than statistically significant sample of one (me), career military types are not too enamored with civilian law enforcement types.

  18. This isn’t a Pentagon problem. It’s a Commander in Chief problem.

    Why isn’t it all over the MSM the way SWAT team abuses are?

    Wait. Nevermind.

    I wonder how many were (military) career types.

    Given that SWAT team age range runs fairly low, I’d guess most ex-military have one, maybe two hitches.

  19. Kubrick’s Paths of Glory makes a similar point about military tribunals, although in that case they’re going after their own men. I’m sure that won’t (hasn’t) happen(ed).

  20. Three words: George Soros.

    Awesome. All kinds of awesome.

  21. Yeah, it does. I wonder how many were career types. Using the slightly less than statistically significant sample of one (me), career military types are not too enamored with civilian law enforcement types.

    Of course there is a world of difference between the guy who did a tour and a career guy in for the long haul.

    I imagine there aren’t many career ex-military in SWAT except perhaps very high in the command structure.

  22. Is it the libertarian position that these detainees have the same due process rights as American citizens, or do you admit that military process standards must by necessity be lower than American criminal standards?

  23. Darrel Vandeveld for Attorney General!

    I’m completely serious there.

  24. do you admit that military process standards must by necessity be lower than American criminal standards?

    Why “by necessity”? I don’t see anything necessary about it. Preferable, perhaps, but necessary is quite a stretch.

  25. @Peterson

    Is it the libertarian position

    There isn’t really a the libertarian position on much of anything.

    This libertarian’s position is that the detainees are entitled to a truth-seeking (as opposed to ass-covering) review of how they got there, to sort them into one of three bins:

    1. Innocent—apologized to, compensated and sent home

    2. Criminal—prosecuted locally with all rights and protections, or extradited as appropriate

    3. Combatants—Treated as per the Geneva conventions (yes, even the illegal ones, we are the good guys after all (if their allegiance is to a non-nation group, we hold them until that group folds (could be a while for alquida)))

  26. Can we agree, Peterson, that when military prosecutors keep quitting over the unfairness of the process for the accused, the standards have been lowered too far?

  27. Well, this is the first I’ve heard of the quitting. So I haven’t really formed an opinion about that yet.

    I am wary of the whole Gitmo controversy. Yes, it’s a dodgy thing. But I feel like we’re pretty humane about it. Boumediene makes no sense, creating rights for non-citizens out of thin air.

    Liberals as well as conservatives are spread throughout the military services, and some of them find things to be indignant about as current policy clashes with their politics. I think that’s possible.

  28. Boumediene makes no sense, creating rights for non-citizens out of thin air.

    Certain parts of the constitution attach rights to “citizens” and certain parts attach rights to “persons”.

    Non-citizens are persons.

  29. Boumediene makes no sense, creating rights for non-citizens out of thin air.

    If Bush had inmates a way to prove their innocence it probably wouldn’t have happened.

    If he and his supporters had reacted like reasonable people to the indisputable evidence that we had imprisoned innocents, instead of lashing out at anyone who brought up the issue, this case probably wouldn’t have even gone to the SC.

  30. Bush and Cheney torture. They listen to Yoo talk about their “right” to crush the testicles of children if they feel like it, and then they get a little bit of a rush.

    This should tell you all you need to know about the people in control of this country.

  31. Boumediene makes no sense, creating rights for non-citizens out of thin air.

    I think the real nut, and the real potential problem, of Boumedienne is that it expands the definition of US sovereignty beyond the traditional, formal definition (based, essentially, on the territorial US and whatever overseas possessions are deemed sovereign territory by treaty) into a much more nebulous realm (territory that is under US control).

    The expansion of rights doesn’t come from an expanded definition of “citizens” or “persons”, but follows this expansion of US soveriegn jurisdiction.

  32. “I think the real nut, and the real potential problem, of Boumedienne is that it expands the definition of US sovereignty beyond the traditional, formal definition (based, essentially, on the territorial US and whatever overseas possessions are deemed sovereign territory by treaty) into a much more nebulous realm (territory that is under US control).”

    I thought that the US has controlled Guantanamo Bay as a result of a treaty, no? Cuba may disagree, but the fact that the US has maintained a base there for so long indicates that the US gov’t feels it has a legal right to be there.

    If not, how can the US exert control over a part of a sovereign country(and administer U.S. military law and custom) for so long with no legal document establishing the right to do so?
    Is then the US arguing, and the Supreme Court upholding, that “might is right” as a legal means to conduct and transplant American authority to diff’t parts of the world?

  33. I thought that the US has controlled Guantanamo Bay as a result of a treaty, no?

    Yes. In my recollection, it is a treaty that gives control, but not sovereignty, over that land. Unlike, say, a US embassy, which is US sovereign territory.

    Is then the US arguing, and the Supreme Court upholding, that “might is right” as a legal means to conduct and transplant American authority to diff’t parts of the world?

    Well, the US was arguing the other side, but that is one of the uncomfortable implications of the SCOTUS reasoning. The SCOTUS was looking only at the “obligations” side of sovereignty (the extension of rights to all persons under our jurisdiction), but its hard to separate the obligations of sovereignty from the powers of sovereignty.

  34. “””Boumediene makes no sense, creating rights for non-citizens out of thin air.”””

    I think it has more to do with unalienable rights.

    But it’s all bullshit. The bottom line is that the Bush admin thinks it can move the ideology and rules around as it sees fit. Some people are claiming jurisdictional issues as to why rights don’t apply, yet have no problem with the US charging people with crimes that were not committed in our jurisdiction.

    The main problem with trials at Gitmo is that the US needs the bar to be set low enough that someone claiming someone else said you were a terrorist will be good enough for a conviction.

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