DOD legal advisor denies Guantanamo prosecutor pressured for secret trials

[JURIST] The legal advisor to the Convening Authority [official backgrounder] for Military Commissions at Guantanamo Bay, US Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas W.Hartmann [official profile], Wednesday denied accusations by former Guantanamo Bay chief military prosecutor Col. Morris Davis [official profile, PDF] that he was pressured to hold secret trials and that politics is interfering with Guantanamo prosecutions. In a Los Angeles Times op-ed [text], Hartman said that the slow progress that frustrated Davis was an unavoidable part of a careful judicial process. He also rejected Davis' allegations that aspects of the military commissions were being intentionally hidden from the public. Hartman said:

Regarding his new allegations that the trials are not open, Davis knows that national security demands that certain evidence remain classified. He had an especially high security clearance for that very reason. But there will be no "secret" trials. Though we must safeguard classified information in order to protect ongoing operations and our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, not one piece of evidence will go to a commission jury without review and the opportunity to object by the accused and his counsel.

Military commissions are now moving forward fairly and transparently. As they continue, critics will see uniformed service members, including judges, prosecutors and defense counsel, conduct trials with the dignity, fairness, and respect for law that defines American military justice — a justice system that remains the envy of the world.
In October, Davis told the New York Times that he was pressured to use classified evidence [JURIST report] against defendants in closed war crimes trials for detainees.

Also in October, Davis said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that Guantanamo prosecutions were becoming politicized [WSJ report; JURIST report]. Davis said that recently-approved rules governing prosecutions at Guantanamo [JURIST news archive] result in the chief prosecutor reporting [PDF memo text] via the Legal Advisor to the Convening Authority to the Pentagon general counsel [PDF memo text], a presidential appointee. Davis said he filed an internal complaint about this structure, but the complaint was rejected. Shortly thereafter, he resigned [JURIST report] in protest.


 

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