Gitmo ex-prosecutor: ‘Full, fair, open’ trials not possible

The chief prosecutor for Guantanamo Bay’s military commissions has revealed that he relinquished his position after concluding that “full, fair and open trials” for the accused were impossible.”I resigned,” writes Morris D. Davis in the Los Angeles Times, “because I felt that the system had become deeply politicized and that I could no longer do my job effectively or responsibly.”

Davis, an Air Force officer and lawyer, says “it is absolutely critical to the legitimacy of the military commissions that they be conducted in an atmosphere of honesty and impartiality.

“Yet the political appointee known as the ‘convening authority,'” a position he noted that had no civilian counterpart, “was not living up to that obligation.”

In early 2007, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates replaced Maj. Gen. John Altenburg as the convening authority with civilian lawyer Susan Crawford. “Altenburg’s staff had kept its distance from the prosecution to preserve its impartiality,” writes Davis. “Crawford, on the other hand, had her staff assessing evidence before the filing of charges” by drafting charges against the accused and assigning prosecutors, among other things.

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America’s own unlawful combatants?

Over Baghdad

Marko Drobnjakovic / AP

OVER BAGHDAD: A Blackwater helicopter in Feburary. The amount of force being used by such firms has raised questions.

Using private guards in Iraq could expose the U.S. to accusations of treaty violations, some experts think.

By Julian E. Barnes, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 15, 2007

WASHINGTON — As the Bush administration deals with the fallout from the recent killings of civilians by private security firms in Iraq, some officials are asking whether the contractors could be considered unlawful combatants under international agreements.

The question is an outgrowth of federal reviews of the shootings, in part because the U.S. officials want to determine whether the administration could be accused of treaty violations that could fuel an international outcry.

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