I am impressed with Col Morris Davies' ability to make Gitmo seem like a model prison and the justice system in place as truly reflecting international standards (The Guantanamo I know, New York Times, June 26, 2007, A25).
Of course, he can only do this by providing a very ahistorical account.
First, the very fact that the US government lost the Hamdan case means that prior to the Military Commissions Act of 2006, detainees did not receive the protections of Article 3 of the Geneva Convention or Article 75 of the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions. It
seems to me that justice rendered only because a court insisted on it is a very poor sort of justice for which Colonel Davies and his military lawyer colleagues should be ashamed.
Second, Col Davies claims that "[the prisoner] is entitled to assistance to secure evidence on his behalf." This is patently untrue -- or was up to a year ago. In June of 2006, your sister newspaper, The Boston Globe, published a story pointing out that detainees were not given the help they needed (Detainees not given access to witnesses, Boston Globe, June 18, 2006, A1). This catalogued the failure of the United States' Authorities to find witnesses who might
have been able to exonerate some of the prisoners held at Guantanamo.
I cannot understand how those responsible did not try with every fibre of their being to find those witnesses. Instead they took a lackadaisical approach that seems typical of the Bush administration.
As with Katrina, it is hard to know whether the neglect of the duty owed to the prisoners was deliberate and malign or mere ineptitude.
The story of Gitmo is darker than that painted by Col. Davies. The time has come to close it.
Sent to New York Times