Ex-Gitmo Prosecutor Lays Politicization Bare

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morris-davis.jpg Air Force Col. Morris Davis, who used to be the chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay and a defender of the Bush Administration’s military tribunal system, took the stand Monday on behalf of a man alleged to be Osama bin Laden’s former driver in order to disseminate the truth about Guantanamo.

Davis was cross-examined by the Army officer who replaced him after his resignation last October, Col. Lawrence Morris, in one of the most dramatic challenges to the first American war-crimes tribunals since World War II…

Davis said he resigned hours after he was put in a chain of command beneath Defense Department General Counsel William Haynes, one of several officials who had encouraged the use of evidence even if it was gathered through waterboarding… “The guy who said waterboarding is A-OK I was not going to take orders from. I quit,” Davis said.

More after the jump…

[Davis] alleged, among other things, that Haynes appeared shocked when Davis suggested in a 2005 meeting that acquittals, however disappointing, could boost the credibility of the system.

“He looked at me and said ‘We can’t have acquittals, we’ve been holding these guys for years,'” Davis testified.

Davis accused Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, a legal adviser to the official overseeing the tribunal system, of exerting inappropriate influence by simultaneously directing tasks for the prosecution team that was supposed to be independent.

He said Hartmann handpicked prosecutors for different cases and demanded cases that were “sexy” or “had blood on them” and would resonate with the public.

Gitmo currently holds about 250 prisoners, and used to hold many more. Only one person, Australian David Hicks, has been convicted of anything. During his testimony, Davis noted that Hicks, who accepted a plea deal that shipped him back to Australia for a nine-month prison sentence, never should have been charged. Mother Jones has written before about Hicks, the charges he levied against the United States government, the difficult plight faced by his lawyer, and the gag order he was placed under following his plea bargin to keep him from talking to the press about his time in Gitmo.

Davis also testified that one Department of Defense official asked for charges to be brought against the Gitmo detainees ahead of the November 2006 midterm elections.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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