Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Interview with Darrel Vandeveld, resigned prosecutor from Gitmo

As interviewed by The Talking Dog:
Darrel Vandeveld is an attorney and former military officer, who, in civilian life is a prosecuting attorney in Erie, PA. In the military, he attained the rank of Lt. Col. in the Army Reserve, serving, among other places, in Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa, as well as serving as a senior prosecutor for the military commissions prosecuting Guantanamo detainees. Last year, he became the seventh attorney to resign as a prosecutor from the military commissions.

The interview is long but well worth it. Fascinating to see what pressures this moral man came under as he tried to make sense of an immoral situation. I've posted part of Vandeveld's conclusion:
So, my advice to President Obama reduces to this: if trials in Article III courts are determined to be imprudent, time-consuming, or to involve too many Constitutional uncertainties, then reform the Commissions by the following: supplement your initial Executive Order with a more specific, imperative directive that ALL evidence be assembled on each detainee immediately, no matter the resources required to do so. Countenance no claims that the task is unattainable. Replace the current Convening Authority, Chief and Deputy Chief Prosecutors, whose failures are undeniable and who, in any event, no longer posess a shred of credibility. Instruct the military services’ top lawyers or “TJAGs” to conscript the most qualified prosecutors available, from whatever source (most probably the reserves, many of whose members are highly-experienced civilian prosecutors). Order the service TJAGs to relocate the entire operation to GTMO (currently, the prosecution and defense have offices in Northern Virginia!). Further, mandate that the Military Judges assigned to the Commissions be relocated to GTMO for the duration as well, holding court proceedings as rapidly as equity allows (before the President’s EO, the Commissions would meet at GTMO perhaps once a month – an unacceptably glacial pace), and to endeavor, consistent with the modified Commissions law and regulations, to complete all trials no later than 21 January 2010. Refuse to release any military personnel from active duty until the mission is complete. Knowing the soldier’s life as I do, this last step will instill the requisite urgency and effort all but abandoned in the preceding seven years. Finally, I would advise the President that after the fair, equitable and just trials are completed, to order the prison camps at GTMO destroyed -- bulldozed to the ground, not in an attempt to erase the past, but as a means of recognizing the abandonment of our American values that took place there. Put a decisive end to GTMO.

In sum, if the detainees cannot be tried in US federal courts, replicate the intelligent, reasoned, and highly-regarded Nuremberg trials to the extent possible at GTMO. Restore America as a force for good in the world. Complete the mission at GTMO, with honor and expeditiousness – not dishonor and expediency.
(Link via Kevin Hayden of American Street)

Update: Center for Constitutional Rights reports:

Currently at Guantánamo, the majority of detainees are being held in conditions of solitary confinement in one of two super-maximum facilities – Camps 5 and 6 – or in Camp Echo. The conditions in these camps are harshly punitive and violate international and U.S. legal standards for the humane treatment of persons deprived of their liberty. Solitary confinement, sensory deprivation, environmental manipulation, and sleep deprivation are daily realities for these men and have led to the steady deterioration of their physical and psychological health. In addition, detainees are subjected to brutal physical assaults by the Immediate Reaction Force (IRF), a team of military guards comparable to a riot squad, who are trained to respond to alleged "disciplinary infractions" with overwhelming force. Detainees have also been deprived of virtually all meaningful contact with their families, and have suffered interference with and abuse related to their right to practice their religion.

Contrary to statements by the military, conditions at Guantánamo have not improved for the majority of detainees and are still in violation of the law. In this report, we describe the current conditions of confinement for the men at Guantánamo and make recommendations for bringing Camps 5, 6 and Echo into immediate compliance with "all applicable laws" governing the conditions of confinement of detainees, as required by President Obama's Executive Order.

The descriptions of ongoing, severe solitary confinement, other forms of psychological abuse, incidents of violence and the threat of violence from guards, religious abuse, and widespread forced tube-feeding of hunger strikers indicate that the inhumane practices of the Bush Administration persist today at Guantánamo, despite President Obama's Executive Order, and should be remedied immediately.

They have a pdf report and copies of letters from detainees.

Why did anyone in the Bush administration think this was a good idea? A torture camp? Did they not study history? Not watch any WWII movies? Or did they always cheer for the Nazis and imagine people cowering before their awesome superbly tailored uniform and shiny goose-stepping boots?

Well, now even the guards are coming forward and talking. Soon we'll hear exactly which one of the perverted group in the Bush cabal pushed this torture program into existence. Maybe we'll even get to hear their dank depraved polluted soup of excuses as to why.

Remember. Some in the Bush administration actively pushed for torture and went down and watched.

I'll quote myself from this post I did in 12/07:
It's torture, Georgie. Why did your administration decide to call the Geneva Conventions quaint? Why did you want torture 'on the table'? Why were you so adamant to have these torture techniques employed? Why was Abu Gonzales asked to find a legal way to activate torture? Why was Rumsfeld scrawling notes about how easy it was to stand for eight hours and that it wasn't enough? Why was there an overheard conversation (Richard Clarke?) between high-ranking White House staff in the days after 9/11 happily discussing torture techniques to use on al-Qaeda and Iraqis? And we're supposed to believe all those dog leashes and glow sticks used on prisoners at Abu Ghraib are part of the everyday equipment of soldiers?

And when Rumsfeld became incensed over the photos of Abu Ghraib, he wasn't upset by the torture. He was upset by the existence of the photos. The acts didn't disturb him, the fact that the world now knew disturbed him.

You opened this door and are now trying to pretend that what was done with your okay and in your name hasn't happened. The truth will out and we will get to hear all the horrible details, if not now, soon. This administration thought that torture would make people be in shock and awe of them. All this did was announce to the citizens of Iraq and the United States and to the world that this administration was cowardly, craven, inept and incompetent. Losers use torture. Wise men don't need to.

And don't drag out that stupid excuse that everything changed on 9/11. Nothing changed on 9/11 except we finally joined the rest of the world in dealing with terrorists. Not every country dealing with terrorism turns into a police state and tortures people. Not every government uses such a blow to undo everything that they can't stand in the Constitution and in our laws. But your administration did, Georgie.

I bet you and your pals have watched the CIA torture tapes. Or, as you demanded of Saddam Hussein to produce proof that he did not have WMDs, prove that you haven't.

Because, by the way you are denying things and shifting times to prove you didn't know anything about anything, we're assuming you have.

crossposted at American Street

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