Pentagon official removed from 2nd Gitmo trial

Pentagon official removed from 2nd Gitmo trial

* AP foreign
Thursday August 14 2008


Associated Press Writer

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) - A military judge on Thursday barred a Pentagon official from taking part in a second war crimes trial at Guantanamo Bay, providing more ammunition for detainee lawyers who allege that political interference taints the proceedings.

The ruling will fuel defense challenges in other trials at this U.S. Navy base, where a former chief prosecutor and defense lawyers have accused Air Force Brig Gen. Thomas Hartmann, the legal adviser to the tribunals, of demanding that certain cases be pursued over others based on political considerations.

The judge, Army Col. Steve Hanley, ruled that Hartmann compromised his objectivity in public statements aligning himself with prosecutors and defending the Pentagon's system for prosecuting alleged terrorists.

Hartmann, who was also barred from the first Guantanamo war crimes trial, will not be allowed to provide further advice in the case against an Afghan detainee. But the judge rejected a defense request to dismiss war crimes charges against the prisoner, Mohammed Jawad.

The former chief prosecutor, Air Force Col. Morris Davis, testified that Hartmann pushed for Jawad to be charged because the American public would be gripped by the details of the case - a grenade attack on two U.S. soldiers and their interpreter in Afghanistan.

``The guy who threw the grenade was always at the top of the list,'' Davis said.

Jawad's attorney, Air Force Maj. David Frakt, said the ruling ``really affects some of the high-profile cases that Gen. Hartmann has had his hands in.''

Guantanamo's chief prosecutor, Army Col. Lawrence Morris, said he expects further challenges over Hartmann's role in other cases.

``We are going to have to address those in court,'' Morris told The Associated Press.

Among those who have challenged Hartmann's involvement in the preparation of charges are lawyers for five men accused in the Sept. 11 attacks, including alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Hartmann supervises the chief prosecutor at Guantanamo and has extensive powers over the tribunal system. He testified Wednesday that he believed he was doing his job properly and said he has not offered to resign.

A judge in America's first war-crimes trial since World War II disqualified Hartmann from participating in that case. The defendant, Salim Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden, was convicted last week and sentenced to 5 years in prison.

" ...political interference taints the proceedings..."

That's the understatement of the century! These are sham trials, in mock tribunals, in kangaroo courts, with "evidence" obtained from torture!!!

Consider mass emailing truth messages. More info here:

DETAINEE ABUSE: War crimes closer to home

Why is it that only foreigners are prosecuted for war crimes? It's certainly not because Americans don't do prisoner abuse.

An expert on detainee mistreatment, Deborah Pearlstein, testified recently before the House Judiciary Committee that, as of 2006, the U.S. government had documented 330 cases of detainee abuse at the hands of U.S. personnel, including 34 reported to be homicides. The witness testified that at least eight "were tortured to death." .....

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