Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Calling Out Yoo & Cheney in Court for War Crimes in Jawad Child Torture Case

Posted by Desta Bishu
Ethiopian Review
August 5th, 2009

Major David J.R. Frakt gave a blistering argument, a virtual indictment of Cheney, Rumsfeld and Gonzales for enabling war crimes in his request for pre-trial dismissal in the case of United States v. Mohammed Jawad, the 12 year old child that was tortured by the United States then held in Gitmo indefinitely. The Court has now ordered the release of Jawad.

Sadly, this military commission has no power to do anything to the enablers of torture such as John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Robert Delahunty, Alberto Gonzales, Douglas Feith, David Addington, William Haynes, Vice President Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, for the jurisdiction of military commissions is strictly and carefully limited to foreign war criminals, not the home-grown variety. All you can do is to try to send a message, a clear and unmistakable message that the U.S. really doesn’t torture, and when we do, we own up to it, and we try to make it right.

The article "Closing Argument at Guantanamo: The Torture of Mohammed Jawad
Major David J.R. Frakt" has been published in the Harvard Human Rights Journal. The journal's editors give high praise to the brilliant work of JAG Frakt, beginning with this introduction.

The editors of the Harvard Human Rights Journal are pleased to publish Major David J.R. Frakt’s argument for a pre-trial dismissal in the case of United States v. Mohammed Jawad. Jawad was the first military commission case to squarely present the issue of the provable torture of a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, and Mohammed Jawad was the first Guantanamo detainee to take the witness stand in a military commission and describe his mistreatment under oath.

JAG Frakt not only defended his client but he spoke truth to power as only a outraged patriot could do. He put on the court record the outrageous duplicity before congress and criminal acts of Donald Rumsfeld. His success, in court, gives credence to his claims.

Throughout the Global War on Terror we have heard repeatedly from our military and civilian leaders that this was a new kind of war, a war that requires new methods, new ideas, "thinking outside the box." So that is what the highly creative and motivated people at Guantanamo did; they abandoned the tried and true and lawful methods of Army Field Manual 34-5262 and wrote a new playbook, a playbook that included intimidation with dogs, sexual humiliation, and sleep deprivation. These and other methods were employed at Guantanamo and, as the Schlesinger report put it, migrated to Abu Ghraib, where they resulted in the shocking conduct portrayed in the infamous photographs. The Secretary of Defense said "take the gloves off" and the soldiers and sailors of Guantanamo saluted smartly and said, "Yes, Sir!" In fact, many of the illegal and abusive "enhanced" interrogation techniques were personally approved for use by the Secretary of Defense; other techniques, like the frequent flyer program, were simply invented on the fly.

The public revelation of the events at Abu Ghraib on 60 Minutes II in late April 200464 caused the Department of Defense to go into full damage control mode. As part of the damage assessment, Secretary Rumsfeld dispatched the Navy Inspector General, Vice Admiral Church, to Guantanamo
to evaluate the treatment of detainees there. He visited Guantanamo from May 5 to May 7, 2004, and reported back to the Secretary and to the press that there was virtually no detainee abuse at Guantanamo, and that everything was in order. General Hood was running a tight ship. Detainees received great treatment.

Incredibly, the very day that Admiral Church was investigating conditions at Guantanamo and finding the treatment of detainees to be so wonderful, detention officials at Guantanamo ordered the initiation of the frequent flyer program on Mohammed Jawad. Before the wheels of Admiral Church’s plane were even off the Guantanamo runway, Mohammed Jawad’s arms and legs were being shackled in preparation for the first of 112 moves up and down the hall of L Block, every 3 hours for the next 14 days. While Mr. Jawad was being shackled for the first of these moves, back on Capitol Hill, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was testifying before the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, reassuring the nation that the abuse at Abu Ghraib was isolated to a few rogue guards.

When Secretary Rumsfeld testified before the HASC on May 7, 2004, the day the torture of Mohammed Jawad commenced, he told Congress, in reference to those detainees who had been abused at Abu Ghraib, "I am seeking a way to provide appropriate compensation to those detainees who suffered such grievous and brutal abuse and cruelty at the hands of a few members of the U.S. military. It is the right thing to do." Today, the government takes a decidedly different tack. They deny the suffering of Mr. Jawad, accusing him of being weak. And they are attempting to reward him by pressing forward with the first war crimes trial against a child soldier in the history of the civilized world.

Valtin has observed that the order to release Jawad will not stop his suffering or even secure his release. Congress' cowardice has left Jawad in legal limbo. However,Valtin's tireless efforts to stop torture and restore the stature of American psychologists assisted in securing this verdict.

As previously reported by McClatchy News, Mr. Jawad's release is going to be complicated by the provisions of an amendment the cowardly U.S. Congress stuck onto the recent Defense Appropriations Bill. But all lindications are that Jawad is going home to Afghanistan before the end of August. But his private hell will not end there, as the sufferings he endured will haunt him for a long, long time, if not the rest of his life.

As I wrote to the Convening Authority at Guantanamo, Judge Susan Crawford, last September:

This case has particular interest for me, as in my professional role as a licensed psychologist, I have worked with victims of torture from multiple countries around the world, both as a psychotherapist, and in a forensic role. I have been certified as an expert witness in the immigration court of the Department of Homeland Security….

As a psychologist myself, I was horrified to read that young Jawad endured multiple episodes of 30-day isolation upon the "recommendation of a psychologist with Guantánamo’s Behavioral Science Consultation Team (BSCT) who suggested that he was feigning homesickness and depression as a technique to resist interrogations." Even after Mr. Jawad reportedly made a suicide attempt in December 2003, he was subjected to Guantanamo's "frequent flyer" program, which, according to a Washington Post article I read last month, consisted of moving Jawad and other prisoners "repeatedly from cell to cell to cause sleep deprivation and disorientation as punishment and to soften detainees for subsequent interrogation."

JAG Fract, by winning this case with this damning evidence has put into the legal record, a basis for trying Yoo, Cheney, Rumsfeld and other high level Bush administration officials as war criminals.

It's past time to appoint a special prosecutor.

However, if American courts don't act there is now a clear case on the record for action in the Hague or other courts to try Cheney, Rumsfeld and other high level Bush administration officials for war crimes.

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