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Gitmo Show Trials: The Other Retroactive Immunity


From Wiki, my bold:

The term show trial is a pejorative description of a type of highly public trial. The term was first recorded in the 1930s[1]. There is a strong connotation that the judicial authorities have already determined the guilt of the defendant and that the actual trial has as its only goal to present the accusation and the verdict to the public as an impressive example and as a warning. Show trials tend to be retributive rather than correctional justice.

The New York Times is reporting that we have followed in the footsteps of Stalin in his Great Purge and are putting on show trials at Gitmo for political purposes.

The former chief prosecutor here took the witness stand on Monday on behalf of a detainee and testified that top Pentagon officials had pressured him in deciding which cases to prosecute and what evidence to use. The prosecutor, Col. Morris D. Davis of the Air Force, testified that Pentagon officials had interfered with his work for political reasons and told him that charges against well-known detainees “could have real strategic political value” and that there could be no acquittals. His testimony completed one of the more unusual transformations in the contentious history of Guantánamo. Colonel Davis, who is on active duty as a senior Air Force official and was one of the Pentagon’s most vocal advocates of the Guantánamo military commissions, has become one of the most visible critics of the system.

[emphasis mine]

The Nation has more:

a key official has told The Nation that the trials have been rigged from the start. According to Col. Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor for Guantánamo’s military commissions, the process has been manipulated by Administration appointees to foreclose the possibility of acquittal.

[emphasis mine]

Got that? There could be no acquittals! No search for truth or justice. No due process. Nope, the Administration has decided they are guilty before the trial even happened. You should read Col. Davis’ Op Ed from the L.A. Times where he lays out more specifics.

From that Nation article:

"It confirms what people close to the system have always said," noting that when three prosecutors–Maj. Robert Preston, Capt. John Carr and Capt. Carrie Wolf–requested to be transferred out of the Office of Military Commissions in 2004, they said they’d been told the process was rigged. In an e-mail to his supervisors, Preston had said that there was thin evidence against the accused. "But they were told by the chief prosecutor at the time that they didn’t need evidence to get convictions"

So, this is not just one Col. Davis saying the process is rigged, this is a whole cadre of career professionals in JAG saying it.

Oh, but there’s more from the Times:

Colonel Davis said a senior Pentagon official who oversaw the military commissions, Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann of the Air Force Reserve, reversed a decision he had made and insisted that prosecutors proceed with evidence derived through waterboarding of detainees and other aggressive interrogation methods that critics call torture.

Yep, our old comrade waterboarding controlled drowning, that gift from John Yoo that just keeps on giving, once again rears its ugly head. I’m not sure that I know what other aggressive interrogation techniques they are referring to there, but suspect it may be the Assault and Battery and other related crimes that Professor Yoo doesn’t think apply if the President says you can do it.

And the military themselves know that these Commission trials are not cricket.

Colonel Davis said General Hartmann directed him last year to push war crimes cases here quickly. He said the general was trying to give the system legitimacy before a new president took office. He testified that General Hartmann referred to the long difficulties the Pentagon had had in operating the military commissions and said, “If we don’t get some cases going before the election, this thing’s going to implode.”

I guess the idea is that they need to hamstring the next President with these convictions obtained without Due Process. Think about it, if you are the new President and you have really really bad guys that you are convinced in your heart are guilty, but they were convicted in a bogus process, but you genuinely believe they are guilty, ARE YOU GOING TO DO SOMETHING TO INVALIDATE THOSE CONVICTIONS?

However, if convictions obtained based on evidence derived from torture are allowed to stand, then the torturers are scot free. If you don’t invalidate the torture application, how can you logically prosecute the torturers, or prosecute the enablers of torture like Yoo, or the authorizers of torture like Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld?

So, rushing into these show trials is like retroactive telecom immunity. It’s immunity for the military guys, sure, but much more importantly, it’s immunity for the BushCo.

[Fifteenth in a series]

 [Editor’s note: This photo by takomabibelot features a banner created and designed by Firedoglake reader BonnieT of Austin, Texas, where she operates]

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