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H. Candace Gorman Headshot

Another Gitmo Stooge Bites the Dust

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I am going to miss Col. Moe he was like the gift that kept on giving... Moe was in charge of the military prosecutions for the Guantanamo kangaroo tribunals... he also saw himself as the military's spin master for Guantanamo .... But trouble started to brew in the inner circles when Moe took a little time off for medical reasons... and Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann (legal adviser to the administration overseeing the trials) realized he could be in-charge.

It seems that Hartman and Moe looked at things differently and Moe didn't think he should have to listen to Hartmann, even though Hartman outranks him (doesn't sound very military like does it?.... But you see the dispute was about something very important to Moe, the Guantanamo PR plan and Moe took his job as chief Gitmo propagandist seriously. It was an important job because the military has this little credibility problem with Guantanamo and they were working long and hard on a PR plan to convince people that the Guantanamo tribunals will be fair...but it is kind of hard to show that they will be fair because, well because nothing about Guantanamo is fair... or legal. No matter how you cut it, having a trial with secret evidence isn't fair... not to mention little things like being charged with "crimes" that weren't even against the law until years after you were originally picked up, or using evidence that was tortured out of you.... Or tortured out of someone you don't even know but used against you....and a host of other problems... it makes it kind of hard to prove your innocence when the deck is stacked so far against you that you don't even know what the government is claiming you did, not to mention what evidence they might have....

So how do you get people to believe the unbelievable? How to you get the public to think that holding people in horrific conditions, going on six years without charges, is somehow the old American way? Moe's PR idea was to start with the hearings for the "low value" detainees. Those men with insignificant charges against them (you might be asking yourself exactly why we having been holding people in the cruelest of conditions if they only face insignificant charges.... ???). Anyway Moe's line of thinking (?) was that most of the evidence could be disclosed in the "insignificant cases" and so it will look as though these are fair and open proceedings long as people don't ask the obvious question "Is that all there is?"

Anyway, Hartmann wanted to start with the higher profile cases and maybe even allow for more plea deals (perhaps like the first Gitmo prisoner who was charged, Australian David Hicks? Hicks we were told was the worst of the worst of the worst...then they finally got around to charging him and setting up a tribunal, the only charge to stick was not even against the law until years after Hicks was picked after five years in our Guantanamo hell.. branded by the military as the "worst of the worst," what happens? Hicks' attorney worked out a plea deal of 8 mos in jail which he is serving in Australia (with an American muzzle over his mouth until after the Australian elections)... so figure that one out!) Aside from the fact that the "high value" cases can also result in the question "why have we been holding and torturing them all these years" the other problem is that they rely on secret evidence and/or evidence obtained under torture. Some in the military fear that even the asleep at the wheel American public might not think these types of trials instill much in the way of confidence.

So how should the military deal with this PR nightmare? Col. Moe made what I thought was his first promising suggestion... he suggested that both he and Hartmann resign and let someone else figure it out. I thought that was a good start....two down, too many to go. If we could just get them all to resign then maybe we could deal with the issue of the men at Guantanamo the old fashion way... I mean the really old fashion way, as in 1215 AD... It's called Habeas Corpus Moe resigned on Friday, Hartmann remains....But anyway, at least Moe is gone and now I can get to know Hartmann...