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Qosi Sentenced to 14 Pretend Years, Reportedly 2 Secret Years

Remember when Omar Khadr wrote this about the military commissions?

Firstly, the unfairness and unjustice of it. I say this because not one of the lawyers I’ve had, or human right organization or any person say that the commission is fair, or looking for justice, but on the contrary they say it is unfair and unjust and that it has been constructed solely to convict detainees and not to find the truth (so how can I ask for justice from a process that does not have it or offer it?) [new color ink–apparently added later] and to accomplish political and public goal and what I mean is when I was offered a plea bargain it was up to 30 years which I was going to spend only 5 years so I asked why the 30 years? I was told it make the US government look good in the public eyes and other political causes. [my emphasis]

Best as I can tell, the fake plea bargain Khadr was offered–in which he would be sentenced publicly, but in which there was a secret agreement that he would serve just a fraction of that time–is what happened to Osama bin Laden cook Ibrahim al Qosi today. After making great show of picking a jury and directing them they could sentence Qosi to between 12 and 15 years, the military commission sentenced al Qosi to 14 years.

But everyone knows that 14 year sentence doesn’t represent Qosi’s real sentence. Instead, he is reported to be serving 2 more years–though there is a bit of a dispute because his plea promised he’d serve his time in communal quarters even though DOD regulations prohibit that.

The day opened with Air Force Lt. Col. Nancy Paul, Qosi’s judge, reversing herself on an order to the prison camps Monday that, whatever sentence Qosi receives, he must be held in a communal POW-style camp for compliant prisoners.

Paul issued the order Monday, saying she understood captivity in the company of some of the other cooperative detainees at Guantánamo was part of a secret annex to his plea agreement approved by retired Vice Adm. Bruce MacDonald, the top Pentagon official overseeing military commissions.

But by Wednesday she noted that collective confinement was not a promise but a recommendation, in part, because, despite a Pentagon bureaucrat’s directive in 2008, the U.S. military has never developed a policy or plan for how to confine war court convicts at Guantánamo.

Call me crazy, but if I were Qosi I’d be really nervous about this double secret plea deal, given that two years is longer than most people are deployed to Gitmo, and two years from now we’ll be in the middle of Presidential election season again.

But that’s what passes for justice in America’s prison colony these days, I guess.

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Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.