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View Full Version : Guantanamo 'a stain on US military'


SteelersMongol
12-02-2008, 11:35 PM
The tribunals used for putting suspects on trial at Guantanamo Bay are a "stain on America's military", a former military prosecutor has told the BBC in his first interview since resigning.

For Lt Col Darrel Vandeveld, a devout Catholic, the twin responsibilities of religious faith and military duty led to a profound moral crisis.

His resignation has led to charges against six inmates being dropped, at least for now, and called into question the possibility of a fair legal process at Guantanamo.

"I know so many fighting men and women who are stained by the taint of Guantanamo, so I'm here to tell the truth about Guantanamo and how a few people have sullied the American military and the constitution," he told me during an interview in his home town of Erie, Pennsylvania.

A reservist, Darrel Vandeveld was called up as a military lawyer after 9/11 and served in Iraq, Bosnia and Africa.

In 2007, he became a prosecutor for the military commissions which tried terrorist suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, a role he took enthusiastically.

"I went down there on a mission and my mission was to convict as many of these detainees as possible and put them in prison for as long as I possibly could," he told the BBC.

"I had zero doubts. I was a true believer."

But his zeal did not last long.

When he arrived, he says he found the prosecutor's office in chaos, with boxes scattered around the floor, files disorganised, evidence scattered in different places and no clear chain of command.

And more seriously, he soon discovered that defence lawyers were not receiving information which could help clear their clients, including evidence that suspects had been "mistreated" in order to secure confessions.

Accused of attack

It was one case in particular, that of a young Afghan called Mohammed Jawad, which caused most concern.

Mr Jawad was accused of throwing a grenade at a US military vehicle.

Col Vandeveld says that in a locker he found indisputable evidence that Mr Jawad had been mistreated.

After Mr Jawad had tried to commit suicide by banging his head against a wall at Guantanamo, Col Vandeveld says that psychologists who assisted interrogators advised taking advantage of Mr Jawad's vulnerability by subjecting him to specialist interrogation techniques known as "fear up".

He was also placed, Col Vandeveld says, into what was known as the "frequent flyer" programme in which he was moved from cell to cell every few hours, with the aim of preventing him sleeping properly, and securing a confession.

A devout Catholic, Col Vandeveld found himself deeply troubled by what he discovered.

But the classified nature of his work meant he was unable to share his growing doubts with friends and family.

As a result, he took the unusual step of emailing a Jesuit priest called Father John Dear, who is a well known peace activist.

In his email, Col Vandeveld talked of having "grave misgivings".

Father Dear was initially unsure if the email was serious and fashioned a quick reply.

"I sort of didn't believe it. But on the off chance he was a military prosecutor I wrote back and said 'quit'."

Col Vandeveld says his jaw dropped when he read the email, adding: "I lived in dread of that answer."

But eventually he did resign and has chosen to speak out about what he saw, giving the BBC his first interview.

"I never suffered such anguish in my life about anything," he says, looking back over the period.

"It took me too long to recognise that we had abandoned our American values and defiled our constitution."

Cases dropped

Col Vandeveld was prosecuting six cases, including that of Binyam Mohamed, the last British resident held at Guantanamo.

After his resignation, charges in these cases were dropped but with the possibility they may be re-filed at any point.

Col Vandeveld declined to discuss details of Mr Mohamed's case and others which remain classified.

But Binyam Mohamed's lawyers say he was tortured as part of the CIA's extraordinary rendition programme and are hopeful that he may not be charged again, on the grounds that this might reveal too many details of the rendition programme.

Darrel Vandeveld explains why he has gone public

Col Vandeveld was forced to undergo a mental status evaluation after expressing his concerns and his military career is over.

But he has returned to his community in Erie where local newspapers have praised the stand he took. He has no regrets.

In response to his claims, a Pentagon spokesman told the BBC: "We dispute Darrel Vandeveld's assertions and maintain the military commission process provides full and fair trials to accused unlawful enemy combatants who are charged with a variety of war crimes."

President-elect Barack Obama has said he wants to shut Guantanamo but no-one thinks it will be easy.

Col Vandeveld believes that it is possible though.

"No justice will be obtained at Guantanamo," he said. "And if that entails moving them (the suspects) temporarily to the US for trial: so be it."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7761315.stm

I agree. The whole thing that's been finally tarnished by Mu Lai in Vietnam war was finally being patched, but this Guantanamo stuff & that Abu Ghraib prison thing is ruining everything.

stlrtruck
12-03-2008, 08:04 AM
It amazes me that the world wants the United States to play by the rules but when the enemy are using torturing methods and similar methods against our own soldiers, it seems the world wants to turn a blind eye to it.
I'm not for the torture but I don't think we need to put them up in a hotel with catering and everything else either.
Yes a few went overboard but it doesn't mean the world is going to come crashing down or that these prisoners aren't guilty either!

Hammer Of The GODS
12-03-2008, 09:50 PM
Maybe if this country used a little more torture and more aggression towards our enemies we wouldn't have so many enemies !!!

The worlds full of evil and sometimes you gotta play dirty and kick evil in the balls! :mad:

GBMelBlount
12-03-2008, 10:13 PM
I agree. The whole thing that's been finally tarnished by Mu Lai in Vietnam war was finally being patched, but this Guantanamo stuff & that Abu Ghraib prison thing is ruining everything.

Huh? What? You're kidding right? :shake01:

JPPT1974
12-03-2008, 10:38 PM
I am not for toture but am for justice, first and foremost!

MasterOfPuppets
12-03-2008, 11:07 PM
kill em all and let god sort em out !!! :thumbsup:

Preacher
12-04-2008, 02:53 AM
What I don't understand, is the fact that these terrorists were breaking the law as far as military justice is concerned.

1. They must wear SOME KIND of insignia in order to be identified as combat soldiers. If they just take a marker and draw something.. they can be identified. But they don't, they are illegal combatants.

2. The attack with reckless abandon, harming innocent civilians. Have innocents been hurt by our side? Yes. However, we attempt to make sure that doesn't happen. If we didn't care, We'd just take care of the whole thing from 30,000 feet.

3. They are using Mosques, homes of innocents, females, and DD people in various ways. All against the Geneva convention.

Yet WE are harming OUR reputation by 2 jails where we are pushing the envelope?

:noidea:

revefsreleets
12-04-2008, 08:20 AM
Sleep deprivation? Really?

Again, I suffered sleep deprivation for 5 years. It was called college.

I'm sure there are some incidents here and there of extreme abuses. It's human nature that some people will go too far. But this is NOT some systemic and organized vast conspiracy to institute state sanctioned torture.

Godfather
12-04-2008, 09:01 AM
Maybe if this country used a little more torture and more aggression towards our enemies we wouldn't have so many enemies !!!

The worlds full of evil and sometimes you gotta play dirty and kick evil in the balls! :mad:

One of our best interrogators begs to differ:

Good cop tactics work better (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/28/AR2008112802242.html?hpid=opinionsbox1)

Hammer Of The GODS
12-04-2008, 12:11 PM
One of our best interrogators begs to differ:

Good cop tactics work better (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/28/AR2008112802242.html?hpid=opinionsbox1)


Nice "story"! I was there and I can tell you two facts from my experience in fighting for my country.

1. I was sent on a mission that I wont reveal in detail but it was a night op and we had air support from the Air Force. In the months that followed (the successful operation ) an officer in the "Air Force" ( same as the clown in the story ) began to stir up trouble and tell "his side of the story" about the events that took place. Everyone involved was brought in twice to testify to what they saw, and it was in direct contradiction to what the "Air Force" officer saw or "said" he saw. The events that took place didn't involve torture, but it parallels that story. Point is that sometimes "the empty can rattles the most".

2. Lies,cheating and backstabbing are not monopolized by the civilian career climber! Military officers and "lifers" can and will use unethical tactics to get ahead.


What I get from that article is a guy who is getting book deals and 15 minutes of fame all the while writing under a pseudonym. Why the pseudonym ?

Lt.Col. Robert "Buzz" Patterson wrote a book about the "nuclear football" ( can't get any more classified that that ) yet he wrote under his real name.


I stand by my assertion.

fansince'76
12-04-2008, 12:17 PM
Wow, another article by the BBC about how the "evil and sadistic" U.S. military has been "torturing" the poor terrorists by not letting them go beddie-bye. Excuse me, my bad, "freedom fighters." Boo hoo. :violin: :coffee:

Preacher
12-04-2008, 01:33 PM
Wow, another article by the BBC about how the "evil and sadistic" U.S. military has been "torturing" the poor terrorists by not letting them go beddie-bye. Excuse me, my bad, "freedom fighters." Boo hoo. :violin: :coffee:

I wonder how BBC covered the fire-bombing of Dresden.

Preacher
12-04-2008, 01:41 PM
I agree. The whole thing that's been finally tarnished by Mu Lai in Vietnam war was finally being patched, but this Guantanamo stuff & that Abu Ghraib prison thing is ruining everything.


BTW...

Let's get some clarification of My Lai.

What Kelly did was horrendous and horrible. However, it is a lopsided and out of balance story.

What you DONT hear, is the actions of other soldiers, like the helicopter pilots who TRAINED THEIR GUNS on AMERICAN SOLDIERS after they saw what Kelly's men were doing.

I How can it be when one of the nobler moments of that war involved the heroism of then helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson, who put down in the middle of the My Lai slaughter and, training guns on the murdering U.S. troops, began rescuing the villagers who had not yet been killed.

Thompson, now of Lafayette, La., was honored recently with the prestigious Soldier's Medal for his bravery.

Until recently, his story was little known, but it is a powerful affirmation that in the most horrible circumstances the best instincts of the human spirit can prevail.

On March 16, 1968, the 24-year-old Thompson and his two-man crew were to fly low over the village to draw fire so helicopters behind them could destroy the enemy with machine gun and rocket fire, according to a recent account in Lafayette's The Daily Advertiser.

On approaching the village, however, the crew "spotted a young Vietnamese girl, injured and lying on the road," a spot Thompson marked with a smoke grenade.

He and his crew radioed for help and were hovering nearby when they "watched in horror as an American Army officer walked up to the girl, flipped her over with his foot -- and shot her dead." Then Thompson and his crew spotted the bodies of Vietnamese women, children and old men piled in an irrigation ditch.

Thompson landed and asked American soldiers to help the wounded. Instead, troops fired into the bodies.

"We wanted to find something that would point the blame to the enemy," he told the Advertiser. "But it just didn't work. It all added up to something we just didn't want to believe."

An old woman standing in a doorway, baby in arms and a child clutching her leg, caught his attention. "These people were looking at me for help, and there was no way I could turn my back on them," Thompson recalled.

When he asked an officer in charge to help him get the villagers out, the officer replied that "the only help the villagers would get was a hand grenade," according to Thompson.

Thompson said he then moved his chopper in front of advancing Americans and gave his gunner an order to train his M-60 on the American soldiers. If the Americans tried to harm the villagers, his crew members were to open fire.

Thompson radioed to two gun ships behind him, and together they airlifted a dozen villagers to safety.

He then flew back to the irrigation ditch where a crew mate saw something move. It turned out to be a 2-year-old boy still clinging to his dead mother. They took the shocked but uninjured child and flew him to a hospital. "I had a son at home about the same age," said a very emotional Thompson.

He was honored March 6 in Washington, the result of the efforts of many, inside and outside the military, beginning with David Egan, a professor emeritus at Clemson University, who became aware of Thompson's actions 10 years ago and has lobbied since to have the Army recognize him.

It is fitting that Thompson received the award in front of the Vietnam Memorial, as haunting in its granite lists of war dead as other memorials are boastful and triumphant.

Vietnam has set us new standards for remembering war -- and for celebrating heroes..

It is amazing how you can change perceptions by only telling half the story.

THis man is a HERO.