The Shame of Guantanamo


The Editorial Board of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has published an familiar attack on the military and political authorities that kept Guantanamo buffered from normal American legal processes.
In a piece, titled “Guantanamo justice, evidence appalling“, the Jay Bookman on behalf of the editors writes:

Army Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and a prosecutor with well over a hundred criminal jury trials under his belt. In May 2007, he was assigned to prosecute Mohammed Jawad, a prisoner held at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo. It was a job that Vandeveld accepted and pursued eagerly as a patriotic American.
However, as he looked into the specifics of the case assigned to him, the colonel became appalled. In fact, what he found should appall all Americans of good conscience.
He learned that Jawad, held in Guanatamo since 2002, had been arrested in his native Afghanistan at the age of 15 or 16 and charged with throwing a hand grenade that injured two U.S. soldiers. But in the six years Jawad had been held, the military had made no attempt to examine or even compile evidence against him. Vandeveld discovered scraps of supposed evidence scattered in desk drawers, bookcases, tossed on empty desks or even thrown into a locker and forgotten. The story he tells makes it clear that the military had no real interest in Jawad’s guilt or innocence. In effect, the fact that Jawad was there was considered proof enough that Jawad belonged there.
The most damning piece of evidence against the Afghan teenager was a handwritten confession supposedly obtained by Afghan police before Jawad was turned over to the Americans. But Vandeveld’s faith in that document was shaken when he discovered that Jawad was functionally illiterate, meaning he could not have written or even read that statement. Furthermore, the confession was written in Farsi; Jawad speaks only Pashto.
The statement also quotes Jawad as confessing to have acted alone. Yet two adult men were also arrested by Afghan police for that attack; they too reportedly confessed.

This young man should be released, but ironically is being held yet another 120 days under Obama’s executive order to stall the military commissions.
I agree with the AJC editors in their kicker line:

But for now, Mohammed Jawad, supposedly one of the “worst of the worst,” remains in Guantanamo. In his statement, Vandeveld urges that Jawad be released not just for his own sake, but “for our own sense of justice and perhaps to restore a measure of our own basic humanity.”

— Steve Clemons


9 comments on “The Shame of Guantanamo

  1. pauline says:

    Come on Joe, have it done to yourself live for us on Larry King! Then we’ll ask you if you still hold your blathering idiotic comments longer than you can hold your own breath.
    “Lieberman jokes about waterboarding at black-tie dinner.”
    At last night’s black-tie dinner at Washington’s Alfalfa Club, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) couldn’t resist cracking a joke about torture. Politico’s Mike Allen reports:
    More from Senator Lieberman: ‘We had hoped Vice President Cheney would be here tonight. I hope it’s not his back injury that’s keeping him away. Apparently, he hurt it moving some things out of his office. Personally, I had no idea that waterboards were so heavy.
    Last year, Lieberman, who has voted against banning waterboarding, “reluctantly acknowledged” that he doesn’t believe that waterboarding is torture. “It is not like putting burning coals on people’s bodies. The person is in no real danger. The impact is psychological,” he said.


  2. Pacos_gal says:

    If you hold people in a prison for years, without putting together any type of substantial evidence of their guilt, without allowing due process, then how you can you later wonder what will happen when those people are released for say..lack of evidence. I’d be pretty pissed off at the country who did that, at the people who did that, etc.
    So who is going to be surprised if and when those held in gitmo and other prisons are released, that they then, truly join an organization whose missions are going to be against those who held them prisoner, most especially if those people were innocent.
    I’m not saying they are or aren’t guilty, but without any type of timely due process, there is no way to know. With evidence that is faked or tortured out of someone you’ll never know either. What is really going to happen to these people? What will their lives ever be like and what kind of future can they have? None of these questions are reasons for not releasing them, they are just observations of basic humanity.
    How do we as a country, rectify these basic wrongful acts and get back to a form of justice for all?
    We don’t even know who or what we are dealing with in the prisoners we have since no coherent case as been made for either their guilt or innocence.


  3. DonS says:

    . . . I meant the embedded video in the ‘link’, but I should have just provided the link for the Whitehurst video. Here tis


  4. DonS says:

    Emptywheel isn’t so sure that Kit Bond isn’t just the first among thug spinmaster on this matter. The embedded video in the video following the one I’m linking has Sen. Whitehurst clarifying his understanding, to wit, Holder could not give assurances on a “case” he might have to later decide to prosecute. Could be just another one of those things we gullibles keeping hoping about, but the next few days might clarify a few things. I’m thinking of the Rove subpoeana, and Obama having the opportunity to telegraph where he stands on the Bush ‘mafia’.


  5. rich says:

    I’m just so relieved Eric Holder has basically promised Kit Bond (behind closed doors, according to Bond) that he won’t prosecute soldiers or intel operatives who committed torture.
    Because they were operating in good faith, right?
    Because CIA agents need that wiggle room to do what’s necessary, right? And CIA officials would never abuse their ‘authority’, would they?
    CIA Station Chief in Algeria Accused of Rapes
    Somehow, blanket immunity or promises not to enforce the law doesn’t seem like such a good idea. The repeated ‘argument’ that American operatives “must have the necessary tools at their disposal” just doesn’t sound like it was thought up by adults. It rings kinda hollow, somehow. It’s not only not persuasive. And it doesn’t just don’t just ring hollow. It’s a fvckin’ joke. And yes–that’s the technical term.


  6. rich says:

    Remember when we were told creating the Department of Homeland Security was necessary to coordinate a byzantine maze of intel and security agencies?
    DHS would make it all consistent, clear, organized, the better to the left hand should know what the right hand was doing.
    Remember when Cold War fears were stoked because Stalinist bureaucrats let free individuals rot in jail because they weren’t handed the right form, or couldn’t find the paperwork at all, or couldn’t navigate interdepartmental procedure?
    Good thing we’re better than the Russians:


  7. DonS says:

    . . . so quick . . .


  8. DonS says:

    Steve, presume you mean “UNusual attack” in the first sentence (I never do typos : ))
    That said, this is [another] severe indictment of this flawed and immoral system. There must be some government/military critter somewhere who can pull the right lever to spring this guy. Certainly Obama wasn’t just looking for “optics” in ordering Gitmo closed.


Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *