The New York Times reports it has emails written by two of the prosecutors working on the military war crimes tribunals of Guantanamo detainees.
Among the striking statements in the prosecutors’ messages was an assertion by one that the chief prosecutor had told his subordinates that the members of the military commission that would try the first four defendants would be “handpicked” to ensure that all would be convicted.
The same officer, Capt. John Carr of the Air Force, also said in his message that he had been told that any exculpatory evidence – information that could help the detainees mount a defense in their cases – would probably exist only in the 10 percent of documents being withheld by the Central Intelligence Agency for security reasons.
Another Officer, Air Force Maj. Robert Preston, wrote:
…he could not in good conscience write a legal motion saying the proceedings would be “full and fair” when he knew they would not.
The official response?
Colonel Borch said he had great respect and admiration for Captain Carr and Major Preston. But their accusations, he said, were “monstrous lies.”
And there has already been an investigation which “…disclosed no evidence of any criminal misconduct, no evidence of any ethical violations, and no disciplinary action was taken against anybody,” the general said. He also said that no evidence had been “tampered with, falsified or hidden.”
To head off any “Rathergate”-type accusations, the Times inserts this paragraph:
Copies of the e-mail messages were provided to The Times by members of the armed forces who are critics of the military commission process. The documents’ authenticity was independently confirmed by other military officials.
Do we take Colonel Borch at his word and trust the results of the internal investigation? Or do the assertions made by these two prosecutors indicate the need for an outside investigation? After all, Maj. Robert Preston feels that pressing ahead with the trials would be “a severe threat to the reputation of the military justice system and even a fraud on the American people.”