We learned late today that Army Lieutenant Colonel Darrel Vandeveld, the lead prosecutor in the military commissions case against Mohammed Jawad, has resigned in protest because the prosecution team was not providing the defense evidence that could indicate Jawad’s innocence.
Jawad is one of the youngest prisoners held. All along, there have been questions about fairness and undue political and command influence. And the problems inherent in withholding charges, evidence, witnesses and other critical information.
Such "secure conviction regardless of justice" maneuvering taints everything. Provision of exculpatory evidence is a cornerstone of justice. Justice Marshall’s dissent in US v. Agurs explains why:
…One of the most basic elements of fairness in a criminal trial is that available evidence tending to show innocence, as well as that tending to show guilt, be fully aired before the jury; more particularly, it is that the State in its zeal to convict a defendant not suppress evidence that might exonerate him….This fundamental notion of fairness does not pose any irreconcilable conflict for the prosecutor, for…the prosecutor "must always be faithful to his client’s overriding interest that ‘justice shall be done.’"…No interest of the State is served, and no duty of the prosecutor advanced, by the suppression of evidence favorable to the defendant. On the contrary, the prosecutor fulfills his most basic responsibility when he fully airs all the relevant evidence at his command.
There are reports today confirming top Bush/Cheney officials knew that interrogation methods culled from reverse-engineering SERE techniques violated our laws and treaty obligations, according to disclosures to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Our long-term interests are harmed by willful violation of the principles of justice on which the very foundation of our nation rests. And it’s time the entire nation woke up to that reality.
UPDATE: ACLU has posted more on the resignation.
(YouTube via The Muppet Show. Because I needed a laugh. Desperately.)