Gitmo trial of teenager Mohammed Jawad stalls and "Biscuit team" member, psychologist U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Diane M. Zierhoffer pleads the 5th
There is a lengthy and detailed report at Salon of the case of (the now) 23-year-old Afghani, Mohammed Jawad, who spent two days in a courtroom at Gitmo as his defense lawyer Maj. David Frakt argued that his case should never go to trial.
Frakt, claimed that Jawad 16 or 17 , his DOB unknown , was repeatedly tortured and abused in U.S. custody, charges that were supported by the testimony of a senior U.S. Army criminal investigator , Angela Birt .
Birt investigated the deaths of detainees at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan in late 2002 when Jawad had been detained there prior to his
rendition kidnapping and transfer to Guantánamo in early 2003.
Birt described U.S. soldiers' abuse of detainees at Bagram as "the worst I've ever seen."
At the same hearing , U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Diane M. Zierhoffer, a licensed psychologist who had ordered the torture of a juvenile detainee, refused to testify under Section 831, Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Article 31 prohibits compulsory self-incrimination as a right under the Fifth Amendment.
Maj. Frakt, claimed further that in September 2003, “when an interrogator observed Mohammad talking to posters on the wall of the interrogation room and was concerned about his mental health,” instead of calling a mental health professional to care for him, they summoned the BSCT team (Behavioral Science Consultation Teams (BSCTs), known as "Biscuit teams), whose psychologist made a “cruel and heartless assessment and recommendations.” BSCTs are not mental health providers. Their primary, their only mission, was and still is to support military interrogations.
Maj. Frakt called the BSCT psychologist’s report (disclosed only as that of "Lt. Col. Z," ), which was classified secret and therefore not discussed in detail in the open court session, “the most chilling document of all.” (Report by ACLU’s human rights researcher, Jennifer Turner)
If U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Diane M. Zierhoffer had testified it would have been the first time that a member of a BSCT team had testified in a military commissions hearing. Zierhoffer resigned from the American Psychological Association in 2005, so could not receive any profesional strictures from them.
Frakt described Bagram "not as a detention camp, but as a torture chamber," and renewed a motion to dismiss the charges against Jawad because of his alleged torture and mistreatment.
Jawad's move to Bagram did not end the criminal abuse. Army Maj. Jason Orlich, formerly an officer with the detainee operations group at Guantánamo, testified about sleep deprivation tactics used on Jawad at Guantánamo.
This had the jocular designation of the "frequent flyer program."
This involved moving detainees from cell to cell, typically every 2/3 hours, to deprive them of sleep. As in Auschwitz, in Cambodia, immaculate records were kept by the torturers and tormentors.
We now know that In May 2004, Jawad was moved 112 times during a 14-day period. Frakt, claimed that Department of Defense guidance limits sleep deprivation to a maximum of four days.
Major Orlich who presumably has not experienced such deep sleep deprivation himself testified that such treatment was "humane." This treatnent was intended to "maintain order and discipline" and to prevent detainees from throwing urine and feces or organizing attacks on guards.
Orlich further claimed that those subjected to the program were violent detainees -- the immaculate records do not show that Jawad was violent.
The arcane, unusual and unique legal process dreamt up for these military commissions means that Judge Henley is expected to announce in late September whether Maj. Frakt has made his case and that he will dismiss the charges against Jawad on the grounds of torture (or the case proceeds).
Judge Henley, before having a holiday from this grim process upset procedures by what is reported an "unusual and unprecedented aspect to his ruling."
He ordered the senior government official responsible for the military commissions, Susan Crawford, to review the charges against Jawad, consider additional information from the defense and confirm whether she wants to proceed with the case.
Judge Henley said Gen. Hartmann had failed to include extenuating and mitigating information on Jawad's case when recommending in October 2007 that Crawford confirm the charges against Jawad. Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann is the military commissions' legal advisor, he has been accused of interference, because Jawad's case is not based on , "charges of conspiracy or material support for terrorism," but Jawad (it is alleged he threw a grenade into a U.S. military vehicle in Afghanistan in December 2002 in which 2 US soldiers and an Afghan translator were injured - Jawad has always denied throwing any grenades) has "blood on his hands".
Judge Henley ruled that Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann's aggressive advocacy of the trials by military commission -- in the media and other public statements -- ''compromised the objectivity necessary to dispassionately and fairly evaluate the evidence and prepare the post-trial evaluation,''
Henley ruled that while the case's prosecutors swore out the charges properly, Hartmann could not serve as a ''neutral'' advisor on the case.
''The judge found that in the interests of justice General Hartmann is disqualified from further action in this case,'' said Air Force Maj. Gail Crawford, a military attorney serving as spokeswoman for the trials.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, speaking for the Bush Gang had expressly stated the Geneva Conventions did not apply in the case of the Gitmo detainees (thrown out by Justice John Paul Stevens in the Supreme Court in June 2006)but added the approved torture techniques were to be used only when there was a good reason to believe that the detainee possessed "critical intelligence." There has never been the slightest suggestion that this teenager , not held on terrorism charges, had any information about terrorism of any value at all.
According to Maj. Frakt as reported in Salon , "This case would never survive scrutiny if they had done a proper pretrial investigation."
Susan Crawford has to make a decision by Sept. 25th, whether the case against Jawad will go forward ... and the Presidential elections will start getting into their stride.
See also Thursday, December 27, 2007 - Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza al Darbi - 5th Prisoner at Gitmo to be charged gets details given to him of his offences