Posted by: sean | November 26, 2005

Rigged Guantanamo Bay military commissions

I just received a package from my family with some Christmas presents and the last three months of Harper’s. There was a “reading” in there that I had never heard about. It is an exerpt from a March 2004 email in which Air Force Captain John Carr, one of the military prosecuters in the cases at Guantanamo Bay who has since then been transferred, complained to Army Colonel Fred Borch about the way the Office of Military Commissions was being carried out.

The Australian Broadcast Service seems to be the first to report that the trials were to be rigged.

I can’t seem to find a transcript of the email on the internet, so I’m retyping the exerpt published in the November issue of Harper’s (emphasis mine):


I feel a responsibility to emphasize a few issues. Our cases are not even close to being adequately investigated or prepared for trial. There are many reasons why we find ourselves in this unfortunate position–the starkest being that we have had little or no leadership or direction for the last eight months. It appears that instead of pausing, conducting an honest appraisal of our current preparation plan for the future, we have invested substantial time and effort in concealing our deficiencies and misleading not only each other but also those outside our office who are either directly responsible for or asked to endorse our efforts. My fears are not insignificant that the inadequate preparation of the cases and misrepresentation related thereto may constitute dereliction of duty, false official statements, and other criminal conduct.

You asked in our meeting last week what else you could do but lead by example. In regards to the environment of secrecy, deceit, and dishonesty in this office, the attorneys appear merely to be following the example that you have set.

A few examples include:

You continue to make statements to the office that you admit in private are not true. You have stated for months that we are ready to go immediately with the first four cases. At the same time, emails are being sent out admitting that we don’t have the evidence to prove the general conspiracy, let alone the specific accused’s culpability.

You have repeatedly said to the office that the military panel will be handpicked and will not acquit these detainees, and we only needed to worry about building a record for the review panel. In private you stated that we are really concerned with review by academicians ten years from now, who will go back and pick the cases apart.

The fact that we did not approach the FBI for assistance prior to December 17 is not only indefensible but an example of how this office and others have misled outsiders by pretending that interagency cooperation has been alive and well for some time, when in fact the opposite is true.

It is my opinion that the primary objective of the office has been the advancement of the process for personal motivations–not the proper preparation of cases or the interests of the American people. The posturing of our prosecution team chiefs to maneuver onto the first case is overshadowed only by the zeal with which they hide the specific facts of their case from review or scrutiny. The evidence does not indicate that our military and civilian leaders have been accurately informed of the state of our preparation, the true culpability of our accused, or the sustainability of our efforts.

If the appropriate decision-makers are provided with the accurate information and determine that we must go forward on our current path, then all would be very committed to accomplishing this task. It instead appears, however, that the decision-makers are being provided false information to get them to make the key decisions, only to learn the truth after a point of no return.

When I volunteered to assist with this process, I expected there would at least be a minimal effort to establish a fair process and diligently prepare cases against significant accused. Instead,

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