Monday, January 19, 2015

necropolitics: no more a terrorist than forest gump...,


guardian |  “I will be back soon,” I said, as we stood up and shook hands. Then I turned and walked a few steps to the gate, and waited for the guard to unlock it so I could leave. Those were the last words I said to Mohamedou Ould Slahi after I met him in the tiny compound he shared with Tariq al-Sawah in the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay. That was seven and a half years ago. I have never been inside the camp again. Slahi has never been out.

I didn’t know, that afternoon in the summer of 2007, that in a few weeks I would send an email to the US deputy secretary of defence, Gordon England, saying I could no longer in good conscience serve as chief prosecutor for the Guantánamo military commissions. I reached that decision after receiving a written order placing Brigadier-General Tom Hartmann over me and the Pentagon general counsel, Jim Haynes, over Hartmann.

Hartmann had chastised me for refusing to use evidence obtained by “enhanced” interrogation techniques, saying: “President Bush said we don’t torture, so who are you to say we do?” Haynes authored the “torture memo” that the secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld, signed in April 2003 approving interrogation techniques that were not authorised by military regulations – the memo where Rumsfeld scribbled in the margin: “I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing [for detainees during interrogations] limited to 4 hours?” Rather than face a Hobson’s choice when they directed me to go into court with torture-derived evidence, I chose to quit before they had the chance.

Slahi and al-Sawah had been recommended to me as potential cooperating witnesses. Before I met them, I asked one of my prosecutors to review their files and check with other agencies to be sure nothing had been overlooked. We attended a meeting where those who had spent years investigating Slahi briefed their findings. The end result was a consensus that, like Forrest Gump, Slahi popped up around significant events by coincidence, not design.