Thursday, July 30, 2009

"So Ordered": U.S. to Release Mohammed Jawad After Six Years False Imprisonment

The judge's order reads as follows (emphasis in original):
ORDERED that Mohammed Jawad’s petition for writ of habeas corpus is GRANTED.
Jason Leopold reports at The Public Record the latest developments in the long struggle to obtain freedom for the Guantanamo prisoner who was captured and imprisoned at age 12 after a military engagement destroyed his home, and he was accused of throwing a grenade at U.S. forces (no one was killed).
U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle granted Mohammed Jawad his habeas corpus writ and ordered the Obama administration to submit the necessary information to Congress by Aug. 6, and begin the process of releasing Jawad from custody.

“After this horrible, long, tortured history, I hope the government will succeed in getting him back home,” Judge Huvelle told Justice Department lawyers during a court hearing Thursday. “Enough has been imposed on this young man to date.”

The government has wobbled back and forth as regards its intent to still file criminal charges and attempt to prosecute Mr. Jawad. But the "new" evidence presented against Jawad last week, in an effort to obstruct Mohammed's habeas release, didn't turn out to be so new after all.

But this week, in a three-page declaration, Maj. Eric Montalvo, a Marine Judge Advocate assigned to the Office of Military Commissions who has represented Jawad since last August, said the new evidence the government claims it obtained in February was shared with him and others on Jawad’s defense team in May and that it is not “new and based upon our investigation none of it is credible or reliable.”

It's worth remembering that the Jawad case was a lightning rod for internal protest against the trumped-up and abusive Military Commissions system the Bush administration put into place after 9/11. The military prosecutor in the case, Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, "resigned because he said the evidence against Jawad was obtained through torture and there were no eyewitnesses to support claims that Jawad threw the grenade."

The torture began at the hands of U.S. and Afghan forces from the very beginning. It started with brutality and beatings, and ended with young Mr. Jawad submitted to the refined psychological tortures of Guantanamo: isolation, sleep deprivation, etc. In the end, Jawad attempted suicide. When a Gitmo Behavioral Science Consultant Team member, Army psychologist Lt. Col. Diane Zierhoffer, was called to testify last August at Jawad's military tribunal hearing, she took the fifth for her part in clearing Jawad for harsh interrogation and treatment.

Mohammed Jawad's case was unique for a number of reasons not usually mentioned:

· Mohammad Jawad was the only person charged under the Military Commissions Act (MCA) who was not been charged with terrorism, nor material support for terrorism, or even with conspiracy.

· Unique among those charged under the MCA, Mohammad Jawad was the only person not even alleged to have any affiliation with al Qaida or the Taliban

· No one died in the attack allegedly perpetrated by Mohammad Jawad.

As previously reported by McClatchy News, Mr. Jawad's release is going to be complicated by the provisions of an amendment the cowardly U.S. Congress stuck onto the recent Defense Appropriations Bill. But all lindications are that Jawad is going home to Afghanistan before the end of August. But his private hell will not end there, as the sufferings he endured will haunt him for a long, long time, if not the rest of his life.

As I wrote to the Convening Authority at Guantanamo, Judge Susan Crawford, last September:

This case has particular interest for me, as in my professional role as a licensed psychologist, I have worked with victims of torture from multiple countries around the world, both as a psychotherapist, and in a forensic role. I have been certified as an expert witness in the immigration court of the Department of Homeland Security....

As a psychologist myself, I was horrified to read that young Jawad endured multiple episodes of 30-day isolation upon the "recommendation of a psychologist with Guantánamo’s Behavioral Science Consultation Team (BSCT) who suggested that he was feigning homesickness and depression as a technique to resist interrogations." Even after Mr. Jawad reportedly made a suicide attempt in December 2003, he was subjected to Guantanamo's "frequent flyer" program, which, according to a Washington Post article I read last month, consisted of moving Jawad and other prisoners "repeatedly from cell to cell to cause sleep deprivation and disorientation as punishment and to soften detainees for subsequent interrogation."

Judge Ellen Huvelle appears to also be concerned with Mr. Jawad's condition, and what follows is the remainder of her order for his release:

FURTHER ORDERED that on or before August 6, 2009, respondents shall submit to the Congress the information required under Section 14103(e) of the Supplemental Appropriations Act, Pub. L. No. 111-32, 123 Stat. 1859 (2009). It is

FURTHER ORDERED that beginning on August 21, 2009, when 15 days following the submission of the aforesaid information to the Congress have passed, respondents shall promptly release petitioner Jawad from detention at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay and transfer him to the custody of the receiving government. It is

FURTHER ORDERED that petitioner Jawad shall be treated humanely consistent with respondents’ legitimate security and operational concerns. It is

FURTHER ORDERED that on or before August 24, 2009, respondents shall file a status report regarding petitioner Jawad’s transfer.


Pelosi and the Democrats could show they had an ounce of humanity and vote a special dispensation for Mr. Jawad, allowing his release to happen as quickly as possible, bypassing the recently implemented legislation of a mandatory waiting period.

Congresswoman Pelosi, do you have the humanity and the guts to do this? Do we really have to extend this innocent young man's imprisonment another three weeks?

UPDATE: If anyone wants to read the best analysis of where the Jawad case is now, and the twists and turns that brought it to this point, you really must read Andy Worthington's latest article, As Judge Orders Release Of Tortured Guantánamo Prisoner, Government Refuses To Concede Defeat.
It would not be an exaggeration to state that, if the Justice Department and the Defense Department decide to proceed with a criminal prosecution, it will demonstrate not only that they have, collectively, taken leave of their senses, but also that no one in a position of responsibility — President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder or defense secretary Robert Gates — has either the courage or the awareness to step in to prevent a clear message being sent out to the world that, far from addressing the excesses of the Bush administration’s “War on Terror,” the Obama administration is, instead, pursuing exactly the kind of cruel, unjust and incompetent policies that would bring a smile to the lips of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

To understand the significance of the decision facing the government, it is important to understand that the case against Jawad was always tenuous, as I reported in October 2007, when he was first put forward for a trial by Military Commission (the “terror trials” introduced by Dick Cheney in November 2001, and revived by Congress in 2006, after the Supreme Court ruled them illegal), and that it unraveled spectacularly last September, when the prosecutor in his proposed trial, Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, resigned.

Stating that he had once been a “true believer,” but had ended up feeling “truly deceived,” Lt. Col. Vandeveld explained, as I described it in an article two months ago, that he had come to regard the Commissions as “a dysfunctional system, which, both through accident and design, prevented the disclosure of evidence essential to the defense, thereby ensuring that no fair trial was possible.” He also “described how evidence proving that Jawad was a juvenile at the time of his capture, that he was tricked into joining an insurgent group and was drugged before the attack, and that two other men had confessed to the crime, had been deliberately suppressed.”

If a shred of credibility remained in the case, this dissolved in October and November, when, on two separate occasions, Jawad’s military judge, Army Col. Stephen Henley, ruled that the crux of the government’s case against Jawad — two “confessions” made on the day of his capture, the first in Afghan custody, and the second, just hours later, in US custody — were inadmissible because they had been obtained through treatment that constituted torture.

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