Just as Eastern European and Russian dissidents who opposed the Soviet Empire’s tyrannical system are today celebrated as heroes, so it will be with those Americans who have opposed the Pentagon’s system at Guantanamo Bay. Among the heroes will be Air Force Col. Morris Davis, who formerly served as the Defense Department’s chief prosecutor for terrorism cases.
This week Davis took the witness stand under oath in a hearing at Guantanamo Bay involving Salim Ahmed Hamdan, an alleged driver for Osama bin Laden. Davis’s sworn testimony exposed how the Pentagon’s “judicial” system at Gitmo is nothing but an elaborate sham that has nothing to do with justice.
According to the Washington Post, Davis’s testimony “offered a harsh insider’s critique of how senior political officials have allegedly influenced the system created to try suspected terrorists outside existing military and civilian courts…. Davis told Navy Capt. Keith J. Allred, who presided over the hearing, that top Pentagon officials, including Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon R. England, made it clear to him that charging some of the highest-profile detainees before elections this year could have ‘strategic political value.’”
Confirming that the presiding judges would be expected to return predetermined verdicts of guilty, Davis testified that Defense Department counsel William J. Haynes II bristled at the suggestion that there could be acquittals at Guantanamo Bay. According to Davis, Haynes said, “We can’t have acquittals. We’ve been holding these guys for years. How can we explain acquittals. We have to have convictions.”
So, what’s the purpose of having a trial? Just for show. Pentagon officials know that it might not look good to simply line up the “terrorists” at Guantanamo in front of a firing squad and kill them. Many Americans and most of the world would feel squeamish or outraged over such Soviet-like behavior.
Thus, better to convene a kangaroo court, one where loyal and obedient military judges can be expected to “do their duty” to their superiors by returning verdicts of guilty and preferably doing so right around election time so that pro-war-on-terrorism political candidates can garner some favorable publicity.
Pentagon officials make no apologies. Since they’re “certain” that the people they’re holding at Guantanamo are “guilty,” what difference does it make if they’re not given a fair trial? As Comdr. Pauline A. Storum, the spokeswoman for Guantanamo, bluntly put it, “We are holding the right people, in the right place, for the right reasons, and doing it the right way.”
Never mind that over the years the Pentagon has released a number of prisoners from its Guantanamo gulag, which would indicate that mistakes have been made. Never mind that juries in the United States have returned verdicts of acquittal in cases where U.S. officials were “certain” that the defendants had committed terrorist acts. And never mind that the very purpose of a fair trial is to determine whether the government’s allegations are true.
No, none of that matters. All that matters is that military officials are “certain” that the people they’re holding at their prison camp at Guantanamo Bay are guilty of the crimes for which they are being accused and, therefore, deserve to be punished for their actions. The ends justify the means, including kangaroo tribunals whose verdicts are predetermined and timed for maximum political benefit.
Davis, who currently heads the Air Force Judiciary, must realize that his military career is now over, which is undoubtedly why he now plans to retire. Although the Pentagon no doubt views him as a “bad guy,” Davis’s actions are as heroic as those exhibited by Eastern European and Soviet dissidents during the era of Soviet tyranny. The American people and the people of the world owe Morris Davis a deep debt of gratitude for his courage and heroism.