Ruminations on Hicks’s “sentence” and reflections on Lt. Col. V. Stuart Couch’s integrity.

Mark’s discussion of Hicks’s “plea deal” and his request for thoughts prompts me to post the following excerpt from a piece from the Wall Street Journal on Military Prosecutor who refused to prosecute a case, because he came to believe that the accused had been tortured: Jess Bravin, The Conscience of the Colonel, Wall Street Journal, p. A1, March 31, 2007. “Lt. Col. Stuart Couch volunteered to prosecute terrorists. Then he decided one had been tortured.”

I, like many of you, am skeptical about everything going on at Guantánamo an in the other “sites,” in which we are “holding” those we have “deemed” to be terrorists or “enemy combatants.” I wonder how we can trust anything at all that happens in or in relation to those awful examples of what we have become.

It seems that Marine Corps pilot and a veteran prosecutor, Lt. Col. V. Stuart Couch, was set to prosecute Mohamedou Ould Slahi, but nine-months after he began, Couch decided that he could not go forward, because he believed that Slahi’s “incriminating statements” (the core of the case against him) had been elicited by torture.

It is gratifying to read about individuals who have a strong moral compass and who maintain their integrity in difficult circumstances. Col. Couch stated that “Of the cases I had seen, he was the one with the most blood on his hands….”

The problem with having let ourselves fall into this miasma of evil (disappearing people, holding them “indefinitely,” and apparently torturing them) makes a mockery of our “war on terror” and of our claims that we follow the rule of law. It fails us on every front and places us directly into a “modern blood-feud,” as I write in my book, Terrorism and Anti-Terrorism, in the book section of this blog. Jess Bravin, who wrote the piece, notes that:

These kinds of concerns will likely become more prevalent as other high-level al Qaeda detainees come before military commissions set up by the Bush administration. Guantanamo prosecutors estimate that at least 90% of cases depend on statements taken from prisoners, making the credibility of such evidence critical to any convictions. In Mr. Slahi’s case, Col. Couch would uncover evidence the prisoner had been beaten and exposed to psychological torture, including death threats and intimations that his mother would be raped in custody unless he cooperated.

When you look into the abyss, the abyss looks at you, as Nietzche said. I am gratified to read about individuals, like Col. Couch, who help us to escape falling further into the abyss.

I have pasted some relevant weblinks, below.


> Read a transcript2 of Mr. Slahi’s hearing before a Combatant Status Review Tribunal at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. * * * Read the unclassified summary3 of the spring 2005 Schmidt-Furlow report presenting the results of a Pentagon investigation into detainee abuse at Guantanamo. The section detailing Mr. Slahi’s treatment is headed “second special interrogation plan,” on page 21. * * * Read a transcript4 of Mr. Slahi’s Administrative Review Board hearing at Guantanamo Bay in December 2005. * * * See the Defense Meritorious Service Medal5 and citation awarded to Col. Couch by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in September 2006. * * * Read a letter6 Mr. Slahi sent to his attorneys, Nancy Hollander and

Sylvia Royce, from Guantanamo Bay on Nov. 9, 2006.

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