Terrorism

Justice Department Agrees Confession Obtained Under Threat of Death May Be Unreliable

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Today the Justice Department agreed to stop trying to justify the imprisonment of Guantanamo detainee Mohammed Jawad, an Afghan who may have been as young as 12 when he was arrested in 2002 and accused of tossing a hand grenade into an American Jeep, by citing statements obtained from him through death threats, physical abuse, and sleep deprivation. Last November the judge overseeing Jawad's trial by a military commission, Army Col. Stephen R. Henley, ruled that his confessions were inadmissible because they had been elicited through "physical intimidation and threats of death." The American Civil Liberties Union asked the federal judge hearing Jawad's habeas corpus challenge to exclude his confessions, along with the other statements he has made in captivity, from those proceedings as well. It argued that coercive techniques used at Guantanamo and at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan rendered Jawad's statements unreliable. Today the Justice Department indicated that it did not oppose the ACLU's motion. It's not clear whether that means Jawad will be released, as the Afghan government has requested. The Justice Department asked for a few more weeks to decide its next step.

Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, who was assigned to prosecute Jawad, resigned from the case because of ethical concerns and supports the detainee's bid for freedom, saying, "It is my opinion, based on my extensive knowledge of the case, that there is no credible evidence or legal basis to justify Mr. Jawad's detention." The right decision seems pretty clear as President Obama strives to close Guantanamo by January. But given that detainees can be imprisoned even after they're acquitted, it's hard to say what will happen.

Vandeveld's declaration is here (PDF). The ACLU has more on the case here.

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  1. Confessions, obtained via all other methods, are reliable.

  2. Finally, CHANGE! A shame the government weaseled with language stating that the decision was made only due to the facts of this particular case.

  3. Can someone explain to me why these people would be in danger if they were returned to the wonderful countries from whence they came? If they are innocent goat herders, why would they be in danger from their own governments?

    Is it because we would push to have them tortured, even though they are “innocent”, or is it because they do not require rules of evidence that would convince the OJ jury? Or is it something else? Just because they are oppressive assholes?

  4. Just because they are oppressive assholes?

    Pretty much, yeah. OTOH, returning these people to where we picked them up doesn’t place them in a worse situation than they were in before we picked them up, does it?

    Speaking of Gitmo releasees, didn’t I hear that the guy running the AQ operation in southern Afghanistan is one?

  5. I’d imagine there’s some fear of credible propaganda from the other side.

    “US tortures innocent [fill in ethnic/religious faction]”

    If the guy is really innocent and the US fucked him over he’s due some compensation in my libertarian opinion.

  6. The Justice Department asked for a few more weeks to decide its next step.

    How do these people have any credibility whatsoever?

  7. nice post..
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  8. Such Norman Rockwell scenes are rare today.

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