Monday, December 10, 2007

Chief Guantanamo Prosecutor Resigned When Placed Under Command Of Torture Advocate Until Oct. 4, Morris Davis served as chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay. When originally asked why he was stepping down, Davis said that the Pentagon had ordered him “not to communicate with the news media about my resignation or military commissions.”

Today in an LA Times op-ed, however, Morris reveals that part of the reason he resigned was that the Bush administration placed him under the chain of command of Defense Department General Counsel William J. Haynes, a torture advocate whose nomination to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals was blocked by the Senate. Morris writes:

I had instructed the prosecutors in September 2005 that we would not offer any evidence derived by waterboarding, one of the aggressive interrogation techniques the administration has sanctioned. Haynes and I have different perspectives and support different agendas, and the decision to give him command over the chief prosecutor’s office, in my view, cast a shadow over the integrity of military commissions. I resigned a few hours after I was informed of Haynes’ place in my chain of command.
Haynes is a close ally of Vice President Cheney and has been described as a “prime mover” in the effort to contravene the dictates of the Geneva Conventions. A 2003 working group appointed and supervised by Haynes argued the Geneva Conventions “must be construed as inapplicable to interrogations undertaken pursuant to [Bush’s] Commander-in-Chief authority.”
More recently, Haynes blocked Lt. Col. Stuart Couch, a former Guantanamo Bay prosecutor, from testifying before Congress about his experiences with “enhanced” interrogation.

In October, Morris also revealed that the Pentagon had been pushing for “high-profile” convictions of detainees ahead of the 2008 elections. Morris said “that he felt pressure to pursue cases that were deemed ’sexy’ over those that prosecutors believed were the most solid or were ready to go.”

UPDATE: Pentagon blocks ex-Gitmo prosecutor from testifying. Yesterday, ThinkProgress noted that Air Force Col. Morris Davis resigned his position as the chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay after he was placed under the command of torture advocate William Haynes. During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this morning, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) revealed that the Pentagon had blocked Davis from testifying before the committee. “The Defense Department has ordered him not to appear,” said Feinstein. Watch it:

Calling it a shame, Feinstein said that she had “to conclude” that the administration is trying to stop a fair and open discussion about the legal rights of detainees at Guantananmo.

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that Davis “planned to say that he considered information obtained through” waterboarding to be “unreliable and that he had ordered his staff to exclude such evidence from their cases.”

UPDATE II: In November, the Pentagon blocked another former Guantanamo prosecutor, Lt. Col. Stuart Couch, from testifying about “enhanced” interrogation techniques.

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