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Military Prosecutor Says Justice Became Political at Gitmo

Col. Morris D. Davis, the US military's former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay, testified yesterday that top Pentagon officials interfered with his work for political reasons, and told him that there could be no detainee acquittals. The former prosecutor found himself on a peculiar side of a court case: testifying on behalf of a detainee, Osama bin Laden's driver Salim Hamdan, and being cross examined by his prosecutorial successor.

Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann (pictured), oversaw the military commissions and allegedly told prosecutor-turned-witness Davis: "If we don't get some cases going before the elections, this thing's going to implode." He also told him that charges against well-known detainees “could have real strategic political value” and that there could be no acquittals.

Last night, TV host Keith Olbermann's asserted that the policy Davis described, co-opted the values of the very constitution and sacred freedoms for which the heroes of the military have fought and died. To see that chilling video, and to find out what else went down in the court,


On the witness stand, Davis recounted a conversation he had with General Hartmann: "He said, 'We've been holding these guys for years. How can we explain acquittals? We have to have convictions.'" Hartmann also insisted that prosecutors use evidence obtained during waterboarding.

Do you care whether justice is served at Guantanamo Bay? Is it dangerously easy to let slide these stories of partisan concerns compromising the constitution because we hear so many of them?

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Join The Conversation
janneth janneth 9 years
Has there been a trustworthy government official in the last 10 years?
Jillness Jillness 9 years
Olbermann's rants do get tiring, but when he is the only one focusing on very serious issues like this, it makes me want to scream too! Things like this make me distrust intelligence information that comes out of the Pentagon and the White House. There are so many examples like this: Alberto Gonzalez, Valerie Plame, the general that "retired" after he said he didn't support rushing to war with Iran. It seems that there is so much pressure in the Admininstration to force their will and block citizens from hearing different perspectives, no matter how many people's lives are damaged in the process. When there is so much evidence that they aren't working for justice, but rather an agenda, it really degrades everything our country stands for.
piper23 piper23 9 years
Keith Oberman always sounds so angry. If Hillary or Barrack are in the big house, what is he going to scream about ? He's obsessed with Bush. Scarily so. Creepy. I miss him on Sports center...
Bettyesque Bettyesque 9 years
This story is extremely thought provoking ... that all I have right now. Im letting my brain settle from my classes this evening.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
hypnotic your VP? are you running for President?? ;)
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 9 years
Has anyone else seen the new Harold & Kumar movie? The parts about the government chasing them down may be slightly charicticurized (sp?), but I found it pretty chilling and scarily in line with things I've heard. There can be no acquittals? Seriously? Stories like these really bring out my crazy liberal side. I fail to understand how the President & Co. can rail against extremists who deny people freedoms and turn around and detain people without giving a reason for years with no representation. How the heck can you claim to be a bastion of freedom when you have bastardized freedom and civil society?
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Hey my V.P. is a West Pointer who got lost in the woods on his cumpus test. LOL!
stephley stephley 9 years
Try being a journalist at a family dinner with West Pointers and cops - you don't know beaten down Missy!
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Oooh cupcakes thats what I need! SHOOT and you just reminded me I forgot to get cocoa powder at the store!! ugh, darn... Thanks for letting me vent, sometimes I feel like I just get so beaten down!! :)
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
I agree cabaker27 that positive stories are out there in regards to our current military actions around the world and are not being covered. They should be covered, but a positive story also shouldn't be delivered as a flag waving specticle. If the story is positive they'll have us at hello. They don't need to go out of their way to manipulate our patriotic heart strings. That's what I hate.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
I see this disconnect stephley's talking about as very similar to the same problem that faces many countries with fundamentalist or overly authoritarian leadership: it's a disconnect between the leaders and the common folk, or, here, between the administration and the soldiers.
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
You really make a good point, cabaker! The sacrifice is not worthless. By the way... I'm eating a cupcake right now, in your honor. :)
stephley stephley 9 years
To a point I agree with you Cabaker; people who really value the military and see the soldier's job as a real calling do a great deal of good. But the military has gotten so emeshed with politics, power and wealth in recent decades that it often does go off course. The same can be said for journalism and politics.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
That last comment wasn't directed at anyone on here, I was just remarking in general. I just wanted to make that clear. Maybe we could institute happy news Fridays! Where we can have some lighter happy stories! :)
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
Hey everyone! I saw this story more as shinning a positive light on the military. The head prospector from Gitmo, an Air Force man himself, is speaking up for the freedoms and rights that define America, the freedoms that military personnel selflessly and courageously risk their lives to defend. I think politicians and other top officials, who are infusing partisan considerations with the rule of law and national security, are showing lack of respect to the brave men and women.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Like for instance, I see pictures all the time of Marines handing out school supplies to Iraqi kids and the smiles on their faces, or playing soccer with them in the streets... But you never see that stuff anywhere unless you seek it out. This isn't directed towards Liberty... but I don't think people truly understand the toll it takes when you're sacrificing a lot and constantly being told your sacrifice is worthless.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
No its important to have integrity and certainly he is risking his career. And I think he's doing the right thing but its just hard to get pounded with bad stories about the military every single day when I know there are so many good stories out there that don't get reported.
mini_pixie mini_pixie 9 years
I agree, Jill. Besides, who else is going to post a story like this? I'd rather know and have the opportunity to do/ say something about it, than have it hidden from me so we don't make anyone feel bad!
Jillness Jillness 9 years
I don't see this as a bad reflection on the military, per say. I see it as a reflection on those who abuse power. I don't think top pentagon officials reflect the average person in the armed services...things might have more integrity if they did! I understand your concern, though, cabaker! :)
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Yes it is easy for us to collectively compromise the constitution because we are given our daily dose of fear to lesson the burden. Fear is our collective rational for acting against constitutional principles. It's people like Col. Morris D. Davis and others who refuse to yield to such pressures and speaks out against them that make me proud of our military and proud to be an American. The Pentagon must allow justice to enter Guantanamo Bay and surrender its pride to a greater cause. The world is watching to see if we are true to who we say we are. If we fail here, we have failed ourselves.
stephley stephley 9 years
Sorry, his career ended last fall.
stephley stephley 9 years
He's a freakin' colonel and he's doing the honorable thing for speaking out!!!!! You should be proud of him - he's not doing his own career any damn good.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Just once Liberty, just once could you post something that doesn't shed a bad light on the military?
mini_pixie mini_pixie 9 years
This kind of story makes me so angry. To hold people for years without charges or representation, and then to say "we can't have acquittals" -- it just reeks. We are Americans, and if we can't try these guys honestly and reach a verdict honestly, we are failing ourselves and the people who have died to protect our way of life. Are we made safer by having dummy trials against presumably guilty people? No! We need to be sure, by fair trial process, that we have apprehended the right people. Because no matter how long you keep someone in jail, it doesn't make them guilty and if the real guilty party is somewhere else you would be better off focusing your resources on them, not on whichever scapegoat you managed to track down.
stephley stephley 9 years
These stories of partisan concerns compromising the Constitution can get overwhelming at times, and you can start to feel like you're tilting at windmills, but the Constitution defines us as Americans - to allow it to be compromised because we're afraid or angry is to betray the country.
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