Friday, October 31, 2008

Another Slap-Down

Another federal judge has chastised Justice Department lawyers handling cases against Guantanamo Bay detainees. This time it was U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who is the judge in a habeas corpus case filed by Binyam Mohammed, a Moroccan who had been a resident of Great Britain. The judicial rebuke was a strong one, according to the Washington Post.

A federal judge yesterday questioned the motives of Justice Department lawyers for withdrawing allegations linking a Guantanamo Bay detainee to a "dirty bomb" plot in the United States shortly before they were required to hand over exculpatory evidence to the defense.

"That raises serious questions in this court's mind about whether those allegations were ever true," said U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who is overseeing a lawsuit brought by Binyam Mohammed, 30, a resident of Britain who is challenging his detention at the U.S. military facility in Cuba. Sullivan warned that "someone is going to rue the day those allegations were made" if it turns out that the government had evidence that they were unfounded.
[Emphasis added]

Binyam Mohammad's lawyers have maintained that their client was picked up by the US in 2002 and then shipped to Morocco where he was tortured until he confessed to what his captors wanted, a scenario all too familiar to those following the detention and "trials" of those being held at the Guantanamo prison camp. Mr. Mohammad, however, had the good fortune to be a resident of Great Britain, where the High Court took a hard look at his case, and some of their findings are among the evidence the Justice Department was ordered to hand over.

A day before yesterday's hearing, the United States turned over intelligence documents related to Mohammed that have been the subject of judgments by the British High Court. The British government discovered the documents in its files and declared them potentially exculpatory, but said it preferred they be handed over by the United States because they include classified material from U.S. agencies.

The U.S. government initially resisted, releasing only seven documents, but on Wednesday it turned over the 35 remaining ones. The British court strongly hinted that it would release them if the United States refused to do so.

British officials also told the High Court this week that the "question of possible criminal wrongdoing" in Mohammed's case has been referred to the country's attorney general for investigation. It was unclear from a letter to the British court whether the probe would focus only on the actions of British agents or could also charge U.S. officials.

Hence the sudden back-pedal by the Justice Department, a maneuver department lawyers are getting quite adept at. When forced to turn over evidence, the department quite regularly drops charges which will be deemed ludicrous in light of the evidence. Department officials, naturally have a different spin, a spin Judge Sullivan wasn't buying:

The allegations against Mohammed are now essentially reduced to his having attended terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.

"We have simplified this case to its bare essence," Andrew I. Warden, a Justice Department lawyer, told Sullivan.

"That doesn't ring true; it rings hollow," Sullivan said. "The government has never been concerned with acting expeditiously here."


So, for the past six years a young man has been held by the US (with, allegedly, a two year stint in Morocco) for the dastardly deed of attending training camps. Now it seems to me that even if he is guilty of that charge, six years should be enough of a sentence. This administration has made it quite clear that even the innocent will not be released from detention, so at this point, Mr. Mohammad's future doesn't look too bright.

Some justice, eh?

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Blogger shrimplate said...

Can we just close down Guantanamo and give it to the Cubans? Soon, please.

1:13 PM  

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