Military Lawyer Claims U.S. Paid Gitmo Prosecution Witnesses

By
Tuesday, August 04, 2009 at 6:00 am
Guards search detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. (Zuma Press)

Guards search detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. (Zuma Press)

In a startling accusation, defense lawyers in the case of an adolescent arrested and brought to Guantanamo Bay six years ago claim the Justice Department may bring a criminal case against the young man based on testimony from witnesses paid by the U.S. government for their cooperation. Mohammed Jawad was as young as 12 when he was arrested by Afghan police in 2002 and accused of throwing a grenade at U.S. soldiers. Although he confessed to the crime after Afghan officials threatened to kill him and his family, his statements were later ruled inadmissible by two U.S. judges because they were coerced.

Now, although the Justice Department has conceded it can’t rely on those confessions and can no longer imprison Jawad based on the laws of war, it’s said it may file new criminal charges against him based on previously unavailable eyewitness testimony to the crime. Those witnesses, however, according to Jawad’s U.S. military defense lawyer, were all paid in gifts or cash in exchange for their testimony.

U.S. Marine Corps Major Eric Montalvo, one of Jawad’s military defense lawyers, said he’s spoken to all of “the government’s star witnesses” and “they all have a couple of things in common.”  First, “they know how to describe the day of the incident anywhere from two to five different ways, placing themselves in different locations for each of these descriptions and witnessing or not witnessing different things,” he said in a recent e-mail message. Second, “they have all received some sort of U.S. government compensation, from shoes and a trip to the United States to $400 for cooperation, which is a princely sum in Afghanistan.”

Furthermore, Montalvo says, when he spoke with officials from the government of Afghanistan, which has been demanding Jawad’s return home, they “openly admit that the matter was not handled properly and they don’t even know what happened because the Americans in their lust for bloodletting snatched Jawad away before the incident could be investigated.”

Jawad’s statements were ruled inadmissible by a military commission last year after a U.S. military judge at Guantanamo Bay agreed that Jawad had been tortured by Afghan police. Statements made to U.S. officials just hours later, the judge also ruled, were still tainted by the Afghan authorities’ torture. U.S. authorities “used techniques to maintain the shock and fearful state associated with the Accused’s initial apprehension by the Afghan police,” the judge ruled. Both confessions were deemed inadmissible.

Jawad’s ordeal didn’t end on the day of his arrest, however. In addition to his torture by the Afghans, military records indicate that at the Bagram prison and later at Guantanamo, Jawad faced more abuse. Jawad arrived at Bagram just days after two prisoners there were murdered during interrogations. Jawad told interrogators he was hooded, strip-searched, shackled and shoved down stairs, slapped and screamed at. Guards there later admitted to abusing prisoners in exactly those ways.

At Guantanamo, military documents reveal that Jawad was subjected to the sleep deprivation technique known as the “frequent flyer” program — he was moved from cell to cell 112 times in 14 days to keep him from sleeping. He was also kicked, beaten, pepper-sprayed and at one point suffered a broken nose. In December 2003, Jawad tried to kill himself by banging his head repeatedly against one of his cell walls. Even the former prosecutor in his military commission case has insisted that there’s no legitimate basis for convicting Jawad. Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, a former military prosecutor, resigned from his post with the military commissions because he insisted there was no reliable evidence supporting the government’s claims.

Vandeveld’s 14-page sworn statement, submitted to support Jawad’s habeas corpus petition and detailing his efforts to investigate the case, is revealing. “I personally do not believe there is any lawful basis for continuing to detain Mr. Jawad,” he wrote. Vandeveld described the evidence as “scattered throughout an incomprehensible labyrinth of databases,” “strewn throughout the prosecution offices” in drawers, bookcases and disorderly piles on desks, and said that “most physical evidence that had been collected had either disappeared or had been stored in locations that no one with any tenure at, or institutional knowledge of, the Commissions could identify with any degree of specificity or certainty.”

Moreover, “crucial physical evidence and other documents relevant to both the prosecution and the defense had been tossed into a locker located at Guantanamo and promptly forgotten.” Vandeveld was unable to locate the videotape of Jawad’s interrogation by U.S. personnel, despite a service-wide search. He also “failed to locate two alleged eyewitnesses to the attack who had allegedly told a U.S. investigator that they had personally witnessed Jawad throw the grenade,” he wrote. “All I had were two paragraph summaries of interviews conducted through an interpreter of these witnesses several months after the attack. The information on the summaries identifying these two witnesses consisted solely of their names, both of which were common in Afghanistan. The few statements that I did have were inconsistent in some respects with each other, but I convinced myself that the discrepancies were the natural and expected fading of witness recollections over time.”

At the time, Vandeveld did not know that Jawad had been tortured or otherwise mistreated or coerced. As his investigation continued, Vandeveled “learned that the written statement characterized by the Afghan police officer as Jawad’s personal confession could not possibly have been written by him.” That’s because “Jawad was functionally illiterate and could not read or write,” and “the statement was not even in his native language of Pashto; the Afghan police officer who created the statement wrote it in his own native Dari.” The statements allegedly given to Afghan police and later given to U.S. authorities, said Vandeveld, “suffered from material differences, causing me and other prosecutors to wonder whether either could be used to establish the truth. It seemed increasingly likely that the statement attributed to Mr. Jawad in his original interrogation had simply been contrived by one of the Afghan policemen, which they then amateurishly sought to “authenticate” by having Jawad place his thumbprint on the document.”

Eventually, Vandeveld learned that both confessions had been coerced, as a military judge subsequently ruled, and that Jawad had been systematically abused in Bagram and then at Guantanamo. Ultimately, Vandeveled concluded that “there is no reliable evidence of any voluntary involvement on Jawad’s part with any terrorist groups.” The most credible evidence suggests “that Mr. Jawad was lured to Afghanistan under false pretenses — the promise of well paid work clearing landmines promised to him by unscrupulous recruiters …” To the extent that Jawad was affiliated with a terrorist group at all, Vandeveld said, that association appears to have been brief and involuntary.

“[H]e was certainly not involved with the organization long enough to have any actionable intelligence, or even unique or otherwise unknown information about the group,” said Vendeveld, adding that Jawad’s youth, lack of education and “manifest gullibility” marked him, at best, as “a low level foot soldier.”

According to military records and news reports, Vandeveld noted, at least three other Afghans have since been arrested and subsequently confessed to responsibility for the grenade attack. It’s not clear what evidence the Justice Department plans to use in a criminal prosecution because all of the evidence that the government claims was “not previously available” is classified. However, a declassified summary of the evidence filed with the court, with most of the substantive information about Jawad blacked out, does reveal many of the sources of the government’s evidence, which are not blacked out. The bulk of it appears to come from testimony and summaries of testimony from 2003 until 2006; most of it appears to have been previously produced at military administrative review hearings.

Other information in the unclassified document consists of summaries of interrogations by U.S. forces drafted by the interrogators and produced at previous hearings. Both the military commission and the federal district court have ruled that, because of the torture and coercion of Jawad, his statements in those interrogations are not admissible. Nothing in the unclassified factual return, at least, refers to newly discovered evidence or testimony only recently made available.

In its submission to the court, Jawad’s lawyers in his habeas case say that “the Government has had possession of this evidence for several months,” and that all of the evidence the government is now saying it wants to use “was provided in discovery to military commission defense counsel in May.” The defense lawyers further insist that the material the government wants to produce consists of “unsworn summaries of unsworn interviews” — similar to what Vandeveld described — that would “not be admissible evidence in a U.S. federal court.”

American Civil Liberties Union attorney Jonathan Hafetz, who has been representing Jawad in his habeas corpus case, says that he also was told that the witnesses received compensation for their testimony. “Had Respondent actually produced one or more of these ‘eyewitnesses’ at a habeas hearing on the merits, Petitioner’s counsel were fully prepared to refute, rebut and impeach him or them,” the defense lawyers write in their brief. “It is unclear why the Government is even mentioning ‘new’ evidence and discussing potential criminal prosecution in the same document where they acknowledge they cannot prove even by a preponderance of the evidence that the Petitioner is detainable.”

Indeed, one curious point about the claim that the government can prosecute Jawad under federal criminal law, after conceding it can’t make its case in his habeas corpus proceeding, is that the burden of proof on the government in a criminal case would be significantly higher than in a civil habeas corpus proceeding. A criminal case must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt,” whereas in a habeas corpus proceeding, the government need only show that “the preponderance of the evidence” supports its claims.

Asked about the claims that the government’s witnesses had been paid for their testimony, Dean Boyd, spokesman for the Justice Department’s National Security Division, wrote in an e-mail that “Jawad has not been charged with any crime in federal court. To begin speculating in public about possible evidence or witnesses in such a case is inappropriate and not an exercise the government will engage in.” He did not say that the government would not or cannot pay or otherwise compensate witnesses in these circumstances, however. Jawad’s defense lawyers, meanwhile, have not been reticent about their view of the evidence.

While explaining that he cannot describe the evidence because it’s classified, Hafetz insisted that “it is not new and it is not credible or reliable.” So far, the government has lost 28 out of 33 habeas corpus cases brought by Guantanamo detainees and heard by a federal court because the courts have found the evidence unreliable or otherwise insufficient to justify their continued detention. The Justice Department is reportedly planning to bring criminal charges against “dozens more” Guantanamo prisoners.

Comments

43 Comments

Progressive Nation » Blog Archive » Gitmo Detainee Claims U.S. Paid Prosecution Witnesses
Pingback posted August 4, 2009 @ 7:38 am

[...] Article: Gitmo Detainee Claims U.S. Paid Prosecution Witnesses – Washington Independent Share and [...]


The Washington Independent » Military Lawyer Claims U.S. Paid … | kozmom news
Pingback posted August 4, 2009 @ 3:52 pm

[...] View original post here: The Washington Independent » Military Lawyer Claims U.S. Paid … [...]


Swami_Binkinanda
Comment posted August 4, 2009 @ 11:18 pm

I guess no one had to read “Darkness at Noon” or “1984″ for college lit, or mistook them for manuals.


pdennany
Comment posted August 5, 2009 @ 3:16 am

No problem, Obama doesn't want to look back when it ongoing or past US government tyranny.


udslkf
Comment posted August 5, 2009 @ 6:12 am

CloneDVD
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udslkf
Comment posted August 5, 2009 @ 6:13 am

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serena1313
Comment posted August 5, 2009 @ 9:25 am

I've read more than enough to believe Jawad is innocent. Which makes the government's motives suspect if they really do intend to pursue taking further criminal action against Jawad.

I think it is premature to draw any conclusions based mostly on conjecture and implication. What the government did or didn't say has no relevance without evidence. In order to determine whether witnesses were compensated then we need to know who, when, where and other details to substantiate that.

Does anyone believe compensating witnesses has any value other than an incentive to bear false witness. In fact it bears a close resemble to some of the worse policy elements Bush initiated.

The truth matters. The rule of law matters. If there is new evidence that merit criminal proceedings, then charge Jawad and be done with it.

Otherwise he has suffered long enough. To detain him any longer would be a travesty of justice.

Set Jawad free.

Insofar as the rest of it (compensated witnesses, etc.) the jury remains undecided until evidence proves one way or the other.


Dear Kitty. Some blog :: Guantanamo torture camp suicide :: June :: 2009
Pingback posted August 5, 2009 @ 3:50 pm

[...] Military Lawyer Claims U.S. Paid Gitmo Prosecution Witnesses: here. [...]


MvGuy
Comment posted August 5, 2009 @ 3:41 pm

First, can someone explain HOW/WHY it IS [or can BE] a WAR CRIME for a CHILD to
throw a GRENADE into the Jeep of an Army INVADING his homeland, BUT ["Jawad arrived at Bagram just days after two prisoners there were murdered during interrogations"] those “who murdered” PRISONERS “during interrogations” are not being prosecuted, and not even being QUESTIONED??

*Is America so MORALLY BANKRUPTED and CORRUPTED that she utilizes SHOW TRIALS of [other people's] CHILDREN to advance their INTERESTS…???????????? We do not get very get much news about the AMERICAN WAR CRIMINALS….. WHO RAPED, TORTURED and MURDERED their VICTIMS…….Can we get some BALANCE here???? PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


samss
Comment posted August 5, 2009 @ 5:38 pm

What does everyone think should happen to the Gitmo detainees?? Discuss: http://www.governmentalityblog.com/my_weblog/qu…


neliberal
Comment posted August 5, 2009 @ 5:53 pm

Bring them all to the U.S. and shut down Gitmo.

Where evidence exists (without torture), try them, and if convicted lock them up in max security prisons (Florence, CO; Ft Leavenworth, KS; others). We've already got over 100 convicted terrorists, many of them al-Quada, in prisons and have had them there for years.

If no evidence, or if found innocent, deport them to their home nation, or if unable, try to find them a new home somewhere (ie. Uighers).


Jackie
Comment posted August 5, 2009 @ 5:58 pm

When you PAY witnesses, you get YOUR version as compared to the truth. WHY are we still keeping him in jail? Why do we still have a JAIL in BAGRAM where detainees have no access to legal aid, and why are detainees still be tortured there?


delicado
Comment posted August 5, 2009 @ 6:14 pm

I guess if they try all the cases with evidence “not credible” that will be the way the prisoners will be released.


Daily Briefing — 5th-6th August 2009 « Little Alex in Wonderland
Pingback posted August 5, 2009 @ 8:39 pm

[...] Mohammed Jawad, 12-years-old when kidnapped by the U.S. and in his seventh year in custody, reports Daphne Eviatar. A federal jedge has cleared Mr. Jawad from release, the DoJ is forced to throw out his confessions [...]


NaderPaulKucinichGravel
Comment posted August 5, 2009 @ 7:49 pm

Bush Rove Cheney Rummy…
Extortion Blackmail Bribery

DNC & RNC have BOTH sold out the country in order to enrich themselves.
Independents agree on more than we disagree.
Beware the divide and conquer.

Future of a Nation that can not trust the Government & Propaganda Media?
How many times has the Government & Propaganda Media lied to you?
Chronic lying as career path or intellectual prostitution for paycheck?
Gravel Kucinich Paul Nader McKinney Ventura Sheehan Kaptur.
Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.
Poodles, Puppets, Sham debates, Scam elections.
9/11 liars, AIPAC liars, Federal Reserve liars.
Speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil?
Greed & corruption or conscience?
Leaks from Whistleblowers.
perotcharts.com


delicado
Comment posted August 5, 2009 @ 8:23 pm

Agreed. We have Demicans and Republicrats. Obama has sided with the elites in most cases too. We need more like Kucinich, nader etyc. Too bad they are in minority.


delicado
Comment posted August 5, 2009 @ 8:23 pm

Agreed. We have Demicans and Republicrats. Obama has sided with the elites in most cases too. We need more like Kucinich, nader etyc. Too bad they are in minority.


Ruminations of an Expatriate » Blog Archive » President Obama, Please
Pingback posted August 9, 2009 @ 11:04 pm

[...] such as this are the shame of our nation. It is you who may, and must, amend the shame wrought by the Cheney [...]


Defining Ransom Down « American Footprints
Pingback posted August 10, 2009 @ 4:59 am

[...] Iranians. And then there are the "detainees" locked up without trial, or worse.  I’m sure many of those prisoners wish there was a photo-op-out-of-jail [...]


nofog
Comment posted August 10, 2009 @ 9:54 pm

How else will they justify the detention of a BOY, they will bribe the whole village, minus his family, to get a conviction, not because the BOY was guilty, but simly destroy a life to save
their ugly face in front of the world…and the World is watching…Do you think people around the globe are stupid ? That is the problem with some Americans, we're #1 and the rest are dumb
Get out of this mentality, repent and do justice, to lead this way may cause you one day
to look behind you to see who's with you and there will be NONE .


nofog
Comment posted August 10, 2009 @ 10:09 pm

Agroup of nannies will do a better job, please stop the mention of any American politician
prostitutes…I call them Prostiticians , Sucking on the life blood of regular honest to goodness Americans….
It is a shame to see my beloved America go this low , Get up , satnd up and lead by example , American people deserve better, you have strayed into the edge of an abyss
All the money, Humpty Dumty and the rest of it will not save you…..REPENT .
Americans are suffering, if not the world…But then again the powerfull is deaf..c'est daumage .


johnhkennedy
Comment posted August 11, 2009 @ 8:07 pm

Hard to believe.

We have to make an example of the Bush criminals or it will happen again and again until we lose our most cherished freedoms.

SIGN THE PETITIONS
Demanding
both a Commission of Inquiry
and a Special Prosecutor
For All Their Crimes
at ANGRYVOTERS.ORG

http://ANGRYVOTERS.ORG


Discount Louis Vuitton
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