( – promoted by buhdydharma )
As explained in this diary, the Obama DOJ is delaying habeas corpus for Mohammed Jawad, a 22-year old Afghan national captured as a teenager 6 years ago & imprisoned at Guantánamo. The Obama DOJ decided to not modify Bush’s motion to dismiss or hold in abeyance until after a military trial. Only Obama has halted all military proceedings, which may not recommence for at least 120 days.
Jawad is a good case for Obama to start distancing himself from Bush. There is no allegation that Jawad is a member of al-Qaeda or the Taliban, that he committed terrorism or ever had critical intelligence. This is the “first war crimes trial against a child soldier (pdf file) in the history of the civilized world.” Yet, a military judge has already tossed the “torture-tainted evidence against Jawad” in a case of regular criminal justice crimes, like attempted murder.
Obama has stated how his experience as a community organizer was key to his campaign and implementing bottom-up politics. One key community organizer principle instructs that the bottom-uppers need to apply pressure on Obama. This is a good case to implement that principle.
Obama issued an executive order on January 22nd governing the review and disposition of individuals imprisoned at Guantánamo. Bush imprisoned around 800 persons at Guantánamo but more than 500 have been returned to their home country or released or transferred to a third country. The task force needs to review the status of the remaining 245 prisoners. The Defense Department has determined that more are eligible for transfer or release. Most of the prisoners have been imprisoned for at least 4 years, some more than 6 years.
The EO mandates the “prompt and appropriate disposition” of all Guantánamo prisoners. This requires the executive branch to conduct a prompt review of the legal and factual grounds for continued imprisonment. Another Executive Order (Review of Detention Policy Options) governs the creation of a Special Task Force on Detainee Disposition or Special Task Force to review case files and identify lawful options. The ultimate question is whether the best disposition for purposes of both national security and justice is release, transfer to another country or prosecution on criminal charges in civilian or military courts.
The EO mandates that the status review of each Guantánamo prisoner “shall commence immediately.” Review teams will examine each prisoner’s case, report to the DOJ status review director, who will then issue recommendations to senior officials from DOJ, CIA, State Dept. and Defense Dept.
On February 20th, Attorney General Holder announced the appointment of Matthew Olsen as the executive director for the interagency status review task force.
On Feb. 23, AG Holder, Olsen and 4 members of the status review team toured Guantánamo, received briefings on the case histories and discussed the charges pending against prisoners before Obama suspended the proceedings.
Within 4 days of Olsen’s appointment, one well-publicized prisoner was released to Britain:
Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder named a director of the review Task Force and, by Monday, Binyam Mohamed, once accused of war crimes, stepped off a plane at a British military base, a free man.
If we can “publicize” Jawad’s case with Olsen, maybe his status determination will be expedited too. The DOJ does not have to reinvent the wheel of information here. Former military prosecutor Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld is bound to have encyclopedic knowledge on this case that he investigated for over 1 year. Another walking encyclopedia of the Jawad case is one of his lawyers, Major David J.R. Frakt (pdf file), who has been representing Jawad for almost 1 year. Major Frakt knows the exculpatory evidence provided by the prosecutor, such as prison logs proving sleep deprivation torture under the “frequent flyer program.” Major Frakt knows about some of the additional evidence of torture, including physical beatings at Bagram, isolation, and solitary confinement. Major Frakt is familiar with witness Angela Birt, who investigated the deaths of prisoners at Bagram, concluding the torture and abuse there was “the worst” she’s ever seen and that Jawad’s accounts are similar to other Bagram prisoners. Major Frakt is well-versed with Jawad’s case history, including attempted suicide in 2003 and his prison records as well as witnesses. Major Frakt filed successful motions to suppress inculpatory statements produced from torture at Bagram .
Published reports state that abuse and torture at Guantánamo has “worsened sharply” since Obama took office as prison guards “get their kicks in” before the prison is closed. In fact, the rise in abuse and torture started last December after Obama won election: A human rights lawyer “cited beatings, the dislocation of limbs, spraying of pepper spray into closed cells, applying pepper spray to toilet paper and over-forcefeeding detainees who are on hunger strike.” This lawyer has “visited Guantanamo six times since late September and based his comments on his own observations and conversations with both prisoners and guards.” The lawyer stated that it did not seem to be a “reaction against the election of Obama,” but merely a realization that soon the prison would be closed.
National Security Division
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W..
Washington, D.C. 20530
Phone (202) 514-1057
Fax: (202) 353-9836