Friday, August 22, 2008

Gitmo Attorneys Extraordinary Appeal to Help Mohammad Jawad

Defense attorneys for Mohammad Jawad, currently on trial in Bush's crooked military tribunal system at Guantanamo, are asking for a letter campaign by the public on Jawad's behalf. Jawad is the first child soldier to be tried as a "war criminal" in modern times. In U.S. custody, he has suffered beatings, threats, physical isolation, sleep deprivation, subjected to 24-hour bright lights, and more.

Jawad is charged with, at the age of 16 or 17, having supposedly been involved in a grenade attack against U.S. forces in December 2002. But his attorneys say he is "a homeless teenager who was drugged and forced to fight with Afghan militia, then abused by the United States, which transported him halfway around the world and imprisoned him at Guantánamo for five years without charge and is now using him as a guinea pig to test a new system of military justice with no regard to his initial status as a juvenile."

There are many reasons to disbelieve the U.S. case against the now-23-year-old Guantanamo defendant. For one thing:
The case against Mohammad Jawad relies almost entirely on a “confession” purportedly taken from Mohammad Jawad by Afghan authorities on December 17, 2002. According to Mohammad Jawad, he was subjected to both physical abuse and coerced by threats while in Afghan police custody. The confession itself was not written by Mohammad Jawad, who was functionally illiterate, and bears only his thumbprint. The confession is not even written in Mohammad Jawad’s native language of Pashto. Virtually all of the independently verifiable facts in the so-called confession are demonstrably false.
Jawad has been interrogated over 35 times at Guantanamo, but has never admitted he threw any grenade, and both interrogators and some members of the Combatant Status Review Tribunal have expressed some doubt as to his guilt. Amnesty International has written a large report on the Jawal case, From ill-treatment to unfair trial - The case of Mohammed Jawad, child ‘enemy combatant’, which looks at his ill-treatment at the hands of U.S. authorities, who "deliberately blurred the detention and interrogation functions thereby undermining a fundamental safeguard against torture and other ill-treatment."

I heartily support Mr. Jawad's attorneys solicitation of support. Here is their letter (emphasis in original):


An Opportunity to Help Mohammad Jawad - Guantanamo's Child

TO: Friends of Mohammad Jawad and Supporters of Justice, Fairness and the Rule of Law

FROM: Major David Frakt, Defense Counsel Lieutenant Commander
Katharine Doxakis, Assistant Defense Counsel

Request for Support – Letter Writing Campaign

On 14 August, Military Commissions Judge Colonel Stephen Henley issued a ruling in the case of U.S. v. Mohammad Jawad. In his ruling, he found that the pretrial advice prepared by Brigadier General Thomas Hartman, the Legal Advisor to the Convening Authority, was inadequate and misleading in that it failed to advise the Convening Authority of matters in extenuation and mitigation raised by the defense. The judge found that the Legal Advisor’s actions had “compromised the objectivity necessary to fairly and dispassionately evaluate the evidence.” The judge ordered the Convening Authority, Ms. Susan Crawford (former Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces), to reconsider her decision to refer the charges against Mohammad Jawad for trial. The judge ordered Ms. Crawford to consider any matters in mitigation or extenuation or other issues submitted by the defense and established a deadline of September 15th to submit matters to Ms. Crawford. The judge has given Ms. Crawford until September 25th to either “ratify” her earlier decision to refer charges or to withdraw the charges.

Accordingly, we are in the process of preparing a package of materials for Ms. Crawford’s consideration. We will also be requesting a personal audience with Ms. Crawford, but there is no guarantee that she will grant the request. She has refused my previous requests to meet with her. In addition to the matters that we will be preparing personally, we would like to present Ms. Crawford with letters of support from other concerned citizens and organizations, urging her to withdraw the charges. If you agree that the charges should be withdrawn, please take a few moments of your time to prepare a personal letter to the Convening Authority expressing your views.

Attached is a model letter with “talking points” that you may wish to consult. We will consolidate all of the letters received and present them as a package to Ms. Crawford. Please submit your letter not later than Friday September 12th. Do not send it directly to Ms. Crawford, but rather send it to Major Frakt.

If you would like us to review a draft of your letter before signing it, you may e-mail it to Major Frakt at If you have any questions, please e-mail or call (202)761-0133 extension 106. Once the letter is complete, you may e-mail it (signed .pdf document is best) or fax it to (202)761-0510 (Attn: Major Frakt). If you wish to mail the letter, please keep the efficiency of the U.S. Postal Service in mind and allow plenty of time. The mailing address is:

Major David Frakt
Office of Military Commissions - Defense
1099 14th St. NW. Ste 2000D
Washington DC 20005

Thank you very much in advance for your time and consideration. Together, we may be able to accomplish some small measure of justice for Mohammad Jawad.

David J. R. Frakt, Major, USAFR
Defense Counsel

Katharine Doxakis, LCDR, USN
Assistant Defense Counsel

If you go to, they have a Model Letter with Talking Points that anyone can use. Letters should be sent to:
The Honorable Susan J. Crawford
Convening Authority
Office of Military Commissions
1600 Defense Pentagon
Washington DC 20301-1600

Do not mail to Susan Crawford. Send the letter itself to:

Major David Frakt
Office of Military Commissions - Defense
1099 14th St. NW. Ste 2000D
Washington DC 20005
Jawad's attorneys suggest the following when writing the letter:
Please refrain from general attacks on the Bush Administration and its policies in the Global War on Terror. The Convening Authority is a loyal Bush administration insider and such attacks will not be helpful.

Please refrain from general attacks on the legitimacy of military commissions (however valid such attacks may be). Remember that your audience is the Convening Authority, a person deeply committed to the commissions. A better approach is to try to convince her that withdrawing the charges against Mohammad Jawad would enhance the legitimacy of the commissions by ensuring that commissions focus on real terrorists, and by demonstrating that the Convening Authority will respond fairly and reasonably when new evidence comes to light which casts doubt on earlier decisions.
Hat-tip to my colleague Trudy Bond for letting me know about the letter writing campaign.

1 comment:

daedalus2u said...

Since Mohammad Jawad was under 18, he was a child and while his treatment may (arguably) not constitute "torture" (depending on the definition), it certainly does seem to rise to the level of "child abuse". It is my understanding that there is federal legislation which encouraging states to adopt what is known as "mandated reporters", individuals who are required to report when they suspect instances of child abuse.

It would seem that the abuse he received while a child was not reported to the controlling authority. As I understand it, this then makes those who did not report his abuse personally responsible and personally subject to criminal and civil penalties.

Since those individuals who are mandated reporters and did not report his abuse are in potential legal jeopardy, they are not impartial witnesses or actors regarding his status.

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