October 10, 2007

Trials continue at Guantanamo

Colonel Blick Mordred presides over the 3-officer tribunal in Guantanamo Court Room 3, United States vs. Ahmed bin-Mavri. Appearing for the United States is Captain Pierce Rechtman, JAG; for the defendant, attorney Sam Leinwold.

Col. Mordred (Judge): We're on the record in Mavri, day 2. Ready for the United States, Captain Rechtman?
Rechtman: Sir!, yes sir!
Judge: Mr. Leinwold?
Leinwold: As we'll ever be.
Judge: Mr. Rechtman, you're continuing today with your case in chief?
Rechtman: Sir! yes sir! I'd like to present to the court Exhibit 16, an affidavit signed by Abdullah Kalar, not his real name, detailing the defendant's complicity in a conspiracy to attack American interests overseas.
Judge: Marked next in order. Please approach the bench.
(Rechtman does so, hands two page document to judges, who begin reading.)
Leinwold: Can I see this one, judge?
Judge: I'm afraid not. Under the terms of the pretrial order, matters of national security cannot be divulged to the defendant or to his counsel.
Leinwold: We don't even know who Kalar is.
Rechtman: Sir! He doesn't actually go by that name, sir!
Leinwold: How do we know he exists at all?
Judge: Counsel, are you suggesting the United States is fabricating evidence?
Leinwold: How can I cross-examine a piece of paper which I can't read?
Judge: I can assure you this is devastating evidence, counsel, and unlikely to have been made up. I am a little concerned about these water stains on the document. Mr. Rechtman?
Rechtman: Sir! it rains in Cuba, sir!
Judge: Very good. The affidavit is admitted into evidence.
Leinwold: (shrugging) I suppose I can ask. Was that statement voluntarily given?
Rechtman: Sir! the United States does not torture, sir!
Judge: Anything further for the United States?
Rechtman: Sir! the prosecution rests, sir!
Judge: Very good. Mr. Leinwold?
Leinwold: Call the defendant, Ahmed bin-Mavri. (defendant is sworn by Arabic translator). Mr. bin-Mavri, how were you arrested?
bin-Mavri: Near Kandahar, December, 2001. I was tending my poppy field when I was approached by U.S. Special Forces and informed I was under arrest for war crimes.
Leinwold: And what were those crimes?
Rechtman: Sir! objection sir! The indictment is sealed and protected by national security order, sir!
Judge: Sustained. The defendant is aware he has been charged with conspiracy to harm the U.S.A. That is sufficient for your purposes, and strikes a fair balance with our need to protect America.
Leinwold: My apologies to the court. I was seeing if I could get lucky and find out who my client conspired with. What did the U.S. forces tell you?
bin-Mavri: That the son of a devil dog, may his eyes burn in the sun, who lives near my farm, whose cursed name is --
Rechtman: Sir, objection sir! Informant's name is classified, sir!
Judge: Sustained.
Leinwold: But my client knows, Judge. So..
Judge: But you do not, and it is you who will return to the mainland at the conclusion of this trial.
Leinwold: Gotcha. Okay, so devil dog, what did he say?
bin-Mavri: I know that he received $5,000 American, and sold me out just so he could take my crop.
Leinwold: Have you ever...done anything against the U.S.?
bin-Mavri: No!
Leinwold: Which brings us to this signed confession, where you admit you wanted to blow up...
Rechtman: Sir, objection, sir! Target is classified information.
Leinwold: Yeah, but I know what it is, and the defendant knows...
Rechtman: Sir, the court reporter does not know, sir!
Judge: Sustained. There's no point in taking unnecessary risks.
Leinwold: Did you do these things in your confession?
bin-Mavri: May Allah chasten me for untruths, I did no such thing.
Leinwold: Yet...?
bin-Mavri: First, they tied my hands and feet to an eye-bolt in the floor...
Rechtman: Sir, objection, sir! Move to strike and to bar all inquiry into mode of inquiry on grounds all enhanced interrogation techniques are top secret, sir!
Judge: Sustained. You may ask if the statement was voluntary.
Leinwold: (shrugging) Was it voluntary?
bin-Mavri: No. It was coerced by torture.
Leinwold: Your honor, I move to strike the confession from the record on the ground it was coerced.
Judge: And your proof?
Leinwold: My client just said so.
Judge: In a conclusory manner without factual support.
Leinwold: You won't let me get the facts.
Judge: That hardly changes the situation.
Leinwold: Why can't I ask him to describe what they did to him?
Rechtman: Sir! That's classified information which in the hands of terrorists could allow them to prepare better for interrogation, defeating the purposes of enhanced techniques, sir!
Judge: Exactly.
Leinwold: How would they do that? Grow gills?
Judge: Your motion is denied on the basis of an insufficient record of coercion.
Leinwold: Then the confession remains in the record?
Judge: Of course.
Leinwold: So you have a pile of hearsay affidavits from a bunch of people we've never seen and never questioned, and you may have tortured that stuff out of them. And now you won't let me prove you tortured the confession out of my own client. What chance do we have?
Judge: The same one you had when you walked in here. Submitted?
Leinwold: Why not.
Judge: Bailiff will call the case of United States vs. Saleem al-Nouri, Case No....

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