The Australian reports today that Colonel Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor for the Bush administration’s military tribunals, alleges political interference from the Howard government over the David Hicks case. But the Oz doesn’t mention Davis’ even more remarkable comments on the procedures still taking place at Guantanamo.

You’ll recall that, a few weeks ago, the US announced the war crimes trials of six high-profile detainees, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Davis says these trials, too, will be bogus.

In a recent Nation profile, he recalled a meeting in 2005 with Pentagon general counsel William Haynes – the man who currently oversees the tribunal process for the Defense Department.

When Haynes compared the current cases to the Nazi war crimes trials, Davis commented on the acquittals that had taken place at Nuremberg, noting the authority that these lent the proceedings:

“I said to him that if we come up short and there are some acquittals in our cases, it will at least validate the process,” Davis continued. “At which point, [Haynes’s] eyes got wide and he said, ‘Wait a minute, we can’t have acquittals. If we’ve been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can’t have acquittals. We’ve got to have convictions’.”

Compare Davis’ allegations with the series of leaked emails published in 2005, in which other prosecutors also complained about a stitch-up.

Major Robert Preston wrote his supervisor: “I consider the insistence on pressing ahead with cases that would be marginal even if properly prepared to be a severe threat to the reputation of the military justice system and even a fraud on the American people.”

Captain John Carr said: “When I volunteered to assist with this process and was assigned to this office, I expected there would at least be a minimal effort to establish a fair process and diligently prepare cases against significant accused … You have repeatedly said to the office that the military panel will be handpicked and will not acquit these detainees and that we only needed to worry about building a record for the review panel.”

There’s something a little odd happening when even the prosecutors worry that the defense has no chance. But here’s another irony.

The CIA has publicly confirmed that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, its most high profile prisoner, was subjected to waterboarding. Now, waterboarding was not only favoured by the Spanish Inquisition and Pol Pot, it was also employed by the Imperial Japanese Army. For instance, a certain Seitara Hata, a camp doctor, employed waterboarding on an American civilian, Morris Killough.

And what happened to Hata? He was sentenced to twenty-five years hard labour by a US court for “war crimes” – precisely the charge faced by KSM.

With the announcement of Castro’s retirement, there’s been many calls to restore freedom and justice to Cuba. Guantanamo Bay seems like a good place to start.

Jeff Sparrow is the editor of Overland. 

Peter Fray

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