Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Obama Administration Refuses to Release Teenage Guantanamo Prisoner Forced to Confess by Torture

cross-posted at the Widdershins

One gets tired of repeatedly calling to account the “liberal” punditry trailing after the multitudes of rapidly defecting Obamaphiles across the land. But still it’s hard not to point out yet again to NY Times columnist Bob Herbert that he used his platform to help seduce the electorate into handing the presidency to one of the most inexperienced candidates to ever run for the office. For future reference, Americans need to be reminded that he of the thin resume was inaugurated during a worldwide financial meltdown, two wars, and a multitude of other global challenges.

To be fair, Herbert’s column in today’s NY Times is not the first he’s written in which he unveils his disillusionment with the One. In response to his most recent painful acknowledgement of reality titled, “How Long is Long Enough,” 193 astute readers with their humanity still intact recommended this comment by Solla Carrock of Portland, OR:

I knew there was a child at Guantanamo. I wondered whether he had been released. I didn't know that he was among those who had been tortured. How could anyone do that to a child. How can we continue. Is he one of the ones who are to be kept indefinitely because he cannot be tried in a court of law. President Obama, is this the change you promised, because I am beginning to lose my faith in it. If someone can't be tried then they need to be released. The dignity and rights of human beings, every human being, is the basis of our country, and if we cannot even protect children, what are we about.

Yes, Solla, this is the change President Obama promised.

In summary, Mr. Herbert points out: Mohammed Jawad was captured as a teenager in Kabul and tortured in American custody. Now administration lawyers are blocking efforts to secure his freedom.

Here’s the deal:

No one seems to know how old Mohammed Jawad was when he was seized by Afghan forces in Kabul six and a half years ago and turned over to American custody. Some reports say he was 14. Some say 16. The Afghan government believes he was 12.

What is not in dispute is that he was no older than an adolescent, and that since his capture he has been tortured and otherwise put through hell. The evidence against him has been discredited. He has tried to commit suicide. But the U.S. won’t let him go.

Herbert reports:

Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld of the U.S. Army Reserve, a recipient of the Bronze Star, among other commendations, was named the lead prosecutor on the case in 2007. By then, Jawad had already been held for nearly five years. Colonel Vandeveld assumed that the case would be uncomplicated and that a conviction could be easily secured.

Jawad had confessed to the attack and, according to the charges against him, had acted as a member of an insurgent group called Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin.

As Colonel Vandeveld began a diligent effort to assemble what he assumed would be the evidence that would convict Jawad, he became increasingly distressed and ultimately dismayed. It turned out, as a military judge would later rule, that Jawad’s Afghan captors had obtained his confession by torturing him. Then the boy was taken by U.S. authorities to Bagram Air Field, the main U.S. military installation in Afghanistan, where he was held before eventually being transferred to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Herbert concludes:

There is no credible evidence against Jawad, and his torture-induced confession has rightly been ruled inadmissible by a military judge. But the Obama administration does not feel that he has suffered enough. Not only have administration lawyers opposed defense efforts to secure Jawad’s freedom, but they are using, as the primary basis for their opposition, the fruits of the confession that was obtained through torture and has already been deemed inadmissible — without merit, of no value.

Colonel Vandeveld is no longer on active duty and has joined the effort by military defense lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union to secure Jawad’s freedom. Six years of virtual solitary confinement, he said, is enough for someone who was not much older than a child when he was taken into custody.

I’ve omitted the parts detailing the torture Jawad has endured (it’s no wonder our neophyte president won’t release the remaining photos); you can read the entire column here.

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