Ten Years On, Guantánamo’s Former Chief Prosecutor on Why He Resigned Because of Torture, and How It Must Never Be US Policy Again

A panel at the New America Foundation on January 11, 2012, discussing Guantanamo on the 10th anniversary of the opening of the prison. From L to R: Tom Wilner, Morris Davis, Andy Worthington and Jim Moran.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

Ten years ago, a significant gesture against the torture program introduced by the administration of George W. Bush took place when Air Force Col. Morris Davis, the chief prosecutor of the military commission trial system at Guantánamo Bay, resigned, after being placed in a chain of command below two men who approved the use of torture. Davis did not, and he refused to compromise his position — and on the 10th anniversary, he wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, reiterating his implacable opposition to torture, his incredulity that we are still discussing it ten years on, and his hopes for accountability, via the fact that, in August, torture architects James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen settled a lawsuit brought against them by three men tortured in CIA prisons, and also because, in the near future, “a citizen-led group, the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture, will hold a public hearing to take testimony from people who were involved in and affected by the interrogation program designed by Mitchell and Jessen.”

I’m cross-posting the op-ed below — but first, a little background.

I remember Col. Davis’s resignation, as it took place just a few months after I’d started writing about Guantánamo on an almost daily basis, and I knew it was a big deal, although I didn’t know the extent of it at the time. I did know, however, that he was not the first prosecutor to resign. Four resigned before him, including Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Couch, who was supposed to prosecute the Mauritanian Mohamedou Ould Slahi, but refused to because of the torture to which he had been subjected, and  prominent resignation after him was of Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, called upon to unjustly prosecute a former child prisoner, Mohamed Jawed, whose story I covered in detail at the time (see, for example, The Dark Heart of the Guantánamo TrialsMeltdown at the Guantánamo TrialsFormer Guantánamo Prosecutor Condemns “Chaotic” Trials in Case of Teenage Torture Victim and Former Insider Shatters Credibility of Military Commissions). Read the rest of this entry »

Col. Morris Davis Discusses Guantánamo, Torture and Intelligence in the Wake of the Latest WikiLeaks Revelations

In the long years of the Bush administration’s “War on Terror” — perpetuated, lamentably, by President Obama — in which soldiers are terrorists, and terrorists are “warriors,” and both of these parties are “enemy combatants” or “alien unprivileged enemy belligerents,” those called upon to play a part in this dangerous aberration from international norms have frequently rebelled, placing their allegiance to the Constitution above the President’s whims, for example, in the cases of the many military defense attorneys who fought against the government, as well as defending their clients, in the Military Commission trial system that was ghoulishly resuscitated by Dick Cheney in November 2001.

Prosecutors, too, have resigned rather than take part in an unfair process, including, most famously,  Lt. Col. Stuart Couch, who resigned rather than prosecuting torture victim Mohamedou Ould Slahi, and Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, who denounced the system’s inability to deliver justice in September 2008, leading, in part, to the release of former child prisoner Mohamed Jawad.

Also of note is Col. Morris Davis, the chief prosecutor of the Military Commissions from September 2005 to October 2007, when, having been a stauch advocate of the Commissions, he resigned because he had been put in a chain of command under the Pentagon’s senior lawyer Wiliam J. Haynes II, who believed in using information derived from torture in the Commisisons, thereby crossing a line that Davis was not prepared to cross. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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