As covered in prior posts, Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo, resigned his post alleging, among other things, that military officers, including Brigadier General Thomas Hartmann, were exercising undue influence over the conduct of the trials of detainees and compromising the impartiality and fairness of the military commissions. Now it appears that at least one military judge concurs with Col. Davis' assessment. As the NYT reports:
The judge, Capt. Keith J. Allred of the Navy, directed that Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann of the Air Force Reserve, a senior Pentagon official of the Office of Military Commissions, which runs the war crimes system, have no further role in the first prosecution, scheduled for trial this month.
General Hartmann, whose title is legal adviser, has been at the center of a bitter dispute involving the former chief Guantánamo military prosecutor, Col. Morris D. Davis of the Air Force.
Colonel Davis has said the general interfered in the work of the military prosecution office, pushed for closed-door proceedings and pressed to rely on evidence obtained through techniques that critics call torture.
“National attention focused on this dispute has seriously called into question the legal adviser’s ability to continue to perform his duties in a neutral and objective manner,” the judge wrote on Friday, in a copy of the decision not released publicly but obtained by The New York Times. Decisions by Guantánamo judges are not typically released publicly until days after being handed down. . . .
Ruling on a defense lawyers’ request that said General Hartmann had exerted unlawful influence over the prosecution, Judge Allred said that public concern about the fairness of the cases was “deeply disturbing” and that he could not find that the general “retains the required independence from the prosecution.”
Pentagon officials could ask the judge to reconsider, could appeal to a special military appeals court created to hear Guantánamo cases or could replace General Hartmann.
General Hartmann has denied Colonel Davis’s assertions and said the commission system would “follow the rule of law.” He has also said he has pressed prosecutors and others involved in the tribunals to move the cases more quickly. . . .
Judge Allred’s ruling followed a hearing in Guantánamo on April 28 at which Colonel Davis said General Hartmann pressured him in deciding what cases to prosecute and what evidence to use. The judge called the hearing after lawyers for a detainee, Salim Hamdan, said his charges were unlawfully influenced.