Third military prosecutor says Guantanamo Bay trials rigged

A third military prosecutor has requested reassignment due to concerns over the military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay being “rigged’ and not providing detainees a fair hearing. The Pentagon claims, however, that it’s simply a misunderstanding related to “personality conflicts.’

Last year two other prosecutors also walked out on the tribunal with the same concerns.

The Pentagon acknowledged yesterday that two former members of the military team handling prosecutions of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had alleged last year that the trial system was rigged in favor of the government.

A Pentagon spokesman said, however, that the prosecutors’ charges had been “thoroughly investigated’ and dismissed as unfounded. While declining to reveal specifics of the allegations, Lawrence T. Di Rita said an investigation determined they were “much ado about nothing.’

The allegations by Air Force Maj. John Carr, who was then a captain, and Air Force Maj. Robert Preston were reported by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times in their Monday editions. The newspapers said they obtained internal e-mails written by Carr and Preston that detailed their allegations.

The Journal account of the allegations said both Carr and Preston requested that they be reassigned rather than participate in the trials. It said they accused fellow prosecutors of ignoring torture allegations, failing to protect evidence that could help defendants establish a defense and withholding information from superiors. The Times said Carr asserted that the chief prosecutor had told 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. — Associated Press

This time around, it’s Air Force Capt. Carrie Wolf, citing the same concerns.

Australian David Hicks is set to be tried by the tribunal for being a member of the Taliban.

“I suppose if one person leaves you could attribute that to a personality conflict,’ Hicks’ lawyer Major Michael Mori said. “Two or three leave, there’s got to be something going on.’ — Herald Sun

Allegations that the prosecutors themselves are sabotaging the trials are serious and should be treated seriously. Writing them off as personality conflicts might be fine if it’s just one person, but as Mori said, when several people are making the same complaint, there’s probably a dead rotting fish in there somewhere.