Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Withholding Evidence

From the Military Times: Charges against 5 Gitmo prisoners dropped

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Pentagon announced Tuesday it dropped war-crimes charges against five Guantanamo Bay detainees after the former prosecutor for all cases complained that the military was withholding evidence helpful to the defense.

I'd bet that the prosecutors are withholding that evidence which would be very helpful to those terrorists in the field. Better to drop charges against these individuals than endanger men and women in the field or other ongoing operations. At any rate, if they are innocent, then it's just as well. Things like this show the need to prosecute the war as a war, not a criminal justice endeavor. National security matters have no place in a courtroom, military or civilian.


Dojo Rat said...

Evidence would help terrorists in the field?
In fact, the lead prosecutor in (I believe the Hamden case) quit his prosecution and went to work for the defense.
In almost every case, they have held these guys for years, have to let them go but have no where to send them.
Do you think they would release them if they were any kind of threat?
I agree with your comment that it should be handled like a war instead of a criminal case. Then Geneva rules would apply, the Red Cross and other NGO's could interview the detainees etc.
What Gitmo is comes closer to an old Soviet Gulag...

Nathan at TDA Training said...

Actually, there are many examples of those release who have gone back onto the battlefield. In fact, one recent suicide bomber in Iraq who killed over 30 civilians was a released Gitmo detainee. The evidence that they do go back is irrefutable.

The reason that they've not had anywhere to go is that 1) their home countries don't want them back, or 2) there's strong evidence that they'd be imprisoned and tortured (real torture, not persuasion as we have at Gitmo) in their home countries, and so sympathetic human rights groups and others have blocked it.

"Do you think they would release them if they were any kind of threat?" Yes. I do, and we have. Our concerns for the rule of law mean that we've made decisions against our own self-interest (in terms of national security) in order to prevent them from getting information, or to comply with civilian courts. Yes, I do think we would, 'cause we have.

My slant on handling it like a war is to say that we shouldn't provide unlawful combatants with better protections than our own troops receive (the Geneva Convention only applied to signatories, and excluded non-uniformed combatants, which is why spies could be tortured and executed, and gurillas were also executed). We are complying, to our detriment, with Geneva, when it doesn't by the letter or intent of that convention, apply.

A side-by-side comparison between Gitmo, even in the early days, and a Soviet Gulag isn't even close, and I think you know that.

I think we'll have to agree to disagree.

Nathan at TDA Training said...

One final point: By closing Gitmo, as is likely, it means one of two likely consequences:
1) There will be fewer captured on the battlefield because there will be no value (in terms of legally acquired information), and it will open up every soldier or marine to having to meet heavier legal scrutiny and consequences, much like our civilian police, and I think more will not risk it.
2) Those detained will be held overseas, rarely by the US, and the detainees will be subject to real torture by foreign governments that have no qualms about inflicting it.

All the recent decisions have shown that we are fair, actually too fair.

My issue, and anger has to do with the fact that for years, we were subject to frequent releases of Internet videos of captured Americans or alleged "collaborators" who were actually beheaded while conscious by those whom we treat so well as three squares (in compliance with their religious restrictions), deference to their Korans, and constant medical care. All of that is far better than our men and women in combat zones enjoy, while they are fighting for the freedom we enjoy.

Again, we'll have to disagree.

MrLefthook1984 said...

Nathan: Are you aware that the vast majority of the detainees at Gitmo are innocnet? Look, I'm NOT a stupid bleeding heart liberal, neither am I an ignorant,non-thinking, bigoted conservative.

However, we have people over there who were turned in by their neighbors because of "tribal conflicts", people who going home from work, people who were at the wrong place at the wrong time. LET THEM GO.

Secondly of all, Nathan, even if they were tried by a military tribunal, a JAG officer told me that they would still get a defense. Plus he told me that it should be held in a civilian court because it was a crime that was commited on our soil. President Obama is NOT the enemy...You have a lot to learn about the law...Stick to martial arts ok?