First torture them, then rig their trials

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) obtained two leaked emails from former military prosecutors at Guántanamo Bay over the weekend. The emails both claim that the military committees set up to try detainees at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba are “rigged, fraudulent, and thin on evidence against the accused.”

In the first email obtained by the Australian news organization, Gitmo prosecutor, Major Robert Preston, wrote to his supervisor that the trial process at Guantanamo was perpetrating a fraud on the American public. Preston also wrote that the cases being tried were insignificant at best.

“I consider the insistence on pressing ahead with cases that would be marginal even if properly prepared to be a severe threat to the reputation of the military justice system and even a fraud on the American people,” Preston wrote. “Surely they don’t expect that this fairly half-arsed effort is all that we have been able to put together after all this time … I lie awake worrying about this every night,” he wrote.

“I find it almost impossible to focus on my part of mission … After all, writing a motion saying that the process will be full and fair when you don’t really believe it is kind of hard, particularly when you want to call yourself an officer and lawyer.”

Shortly after Preston sent these emails to his superior he was transferred from his post.

In the second email obtained by the ABC, Captain John Carr, who also left his position after his email claimed that the commissions at the prison appeared to be rigged, wrote, “When I volunteered to assist with this process and was assigned to this office, I expected there would at least be a minimal effort to establish a fair process and diligently prepare cases against significant accused. Instead, I find a half-hearted and disorganized effort by a skeleton group of relatively inexperienced attorneys to prosecute fairly low-level accused in a process that appears to be rigged.”

Carr also wrote that Gitmo prosecutors were continually told by the chief prosecutor that the panel set up to try detainees was specially selected in order to guarantee convictions. “You have repeatedly said to the office that the military panel will be handpicked and will not acquit these detainees and that we only needed to worry about building a record for the review panel,” Carr wrote.

Joshua Frank reports in Counterpunch, 2 August 2005

See also “Leaked emails claim Guantanamo trials rigged”, ABC, 1 August 2005