The Gitmo Circus
Imagine if, during the O.J. Simpson murder trial, Judge Lance Ito ordered the district attorney's office to hand over DNA samples and logs of O.J.'s stay in county jail after his arrest. Then imagine that the prosecutors refused to do so. And that, instead of being fined for contempt of court (or thrown in jail themselves), these same prosecutors somehow got their boss to get Ito tossed off the bench. And then the D.A.'s office worked behind the scenes to replace Ito with a more, shall we say, compliant judge.
Wouldn't happen. Couldn't happen. Never in a million years. Not even in California.
Well, Cuba isn't California, and Guantanamo Bay is further still.
According to this report from Carol Williams in the Los Angeles Times, this bizarre story is precisely what happened over the weekend in the case of Omar Khadr, a Canadian charged with murder, conspiracy and supporting terrorism:
Army Col. Peter Brownback III was presiding over the case of Canadian detainee Omar Khadr. Marine Col. Ralph Kohlmann, in his role as chief judge at Guantanamo, ordered the dismissal without explanation and announced Brownback's replacement in an e-mail this week to lawyers in Khadr's case.
. . . Brownback had threatened to suspend the proceedings against Khadr unless prosecutors handed over Khadr's medical and interrogation records since his July 2002 capture in Afghanistan.
Khadr's Navy lawyer, Lt. Cmdr. William C. Kuebler, had asked for the records months ago, and Brownback had ordered the government to produce them.
The lead prosecutor in the Khadr case, Marine Maj. Jeffrey Groharing, this week reiterated to Brownback his view that the defense wasn't entitled to the records. He urged the judge to set a trial date.
Brownback said during an April hearing that he had been "badgered and beaten and bruised by Maj. Groharing" to set a date but couldn't do so in good conscience when the prosecution was withholding evidence.
Brownback revealed in a November 2007 session that Pentagon officials had made clear they "didn't like" his decision the previous June to dismiss the Khadr case for lack of jurisdiction.
That ruling was overturned a few weeks later by a hastily assembled Court of Military Commission Review.
Asked about Brownback's removal, Air Force Capt. Andre Kok, a tribunal spokesman, said it was "a mutual decision between Col. Brownback and the Army that he revert to his retired status when his current active-duty orders expire in June."
Kangaroo courts indeed. And the courts look even more foolish for attempting to blame the Army personnel system. More to the point -- does anyone in the Pentagon really believe this is justice? Or that these tribunals' outcomes will contain any sort of strategic value, given the near-total lack of fairness, legitimacy or transparency?
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: fnord | June 3, 2008 1:51 PM
Posted by: seydlitz89 | June 3, 2008 6:18 PM
Posted by: Barry | June 3, 2008 10:07 PM
Posted by: BlueTwo1 | June 4, 2008 12:13 AM
Posted by: sturun | June 5, 2008 7:38 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.