Late-breaking news from Gitmo yesterday. Via ACLU:

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.)

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com

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