Gitmo Prosecutor Quits Due to Lack of Fairness in System

The Los Angeles Times ran a stunning piece in this Sunday’s paper detailing the resignation of Lt. Col. Darrel J. Vandeveld, the man who was prosecuting nearly 1/3rd of the pending trials for suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay. Vandeveld, a self described conformist, became disenchanted with “the system” set up in Cuba over issues relating to fairness and lack of due process for the very prisoners he was suppose to prosecute. He lays out accusations of intentional withholding of exculpatory evidence from defense attorneys by military officials, and even goes so far as to say he reached out to a defense attorney to ask “how do I get myself out of this office?”.

Vandeveld is at least the fourth prosecutor to resign under protest. Questionsabout the fairness of the tribunals have been raised by the very people charged with conducting them, according to legal experts, human rights observers and current and former military officials.

Vandeveld’s claims are particularly explosive.

In a declaration and subsequent testimony, he said the U.S. government was not providing defense lawyers with the evidence it had against their clients, including exculpatory information — material considered helpful to the defense.
Saying that the accused enemy combatants were more likely to be wrongly convicted without that evidence, Vandeveld testified that he went from being a “true believer to someone who felt truly deceived” by the tribunals. The system in place at the U.S. military facility in Cuba, he wrote in his declaration, was so dysfunctional that it deprived “the accused of basic due process and subject[ed] the well-intentioned prosecutor to claims of ethical misconduct.” - LA TIMES

When the very people hand picked by the government, assumably people who are sure to not have any significant idealistic or anti-establishment tendencies, choose to resign their position and vocally support either abolition or at least reform of the current system, it significantly increases the credibility of those who have been fighting the Gitmo injustices for the last seven years. As Colonel Vandeveld seemed to imply in his Times interview- it matters not if the accused are guilty when determining the process for which to capture, interrogate, posecute, and sentence suspected terrorists. Government fiat is completely counter to our great American tradition of firm and proud respect for the rule of law and due process.


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