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article imageOp-Ed: US military lawyer resigns from Army over Guantanamo show trial

By Ken Hanly     Sep 3, 2014 in Crime
Washington - Major Jason Wright resigned last week from the defense team of Khalid Mohammed. Mohammed claims to be the mastermind for the 9/11 attacks.
On August 26, Wright, a US military lawyer also resigned from the Army in protest at what he called the “show trial” of Mohammed being held by the US at Guantanamo Bay. Wright also accused the US of not providing due process and of "abhorrent leadership" on human rights at the Guantanamo facility.
Wright has been in the US army since 2005 and served over a year in Iraq. He has been on Mohammed's defense team for three years. Wright resigned after he was given a choice between leaving the army and leaving the defense team in order to complete a graduate course so he would qualify for promotion from Captain to Major. Wright claims it would be unethical to follow the order.
Mohammed was captured over a decade ago in 2003 and is said to have been waterboarded 183 times during the time he spent in CIA "black site" prisons around the world. Mohammed along with other defendants are facing charges related to the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. Wright told National Public Radio: "All six of these men have been tortured by the U.S. government," Wright told NPR, saying that his client was subject to abuse undisclosed to the public that was “beyond comprehension.” He said Mohammed faced sleep deprivation and threats that his family would be killed."And those are just the declassified facts that I'm able to actually speak about."
He said that it was extremely difficult to develop any sort of trust with his client since he is from the same US government that tortured him. "You show up several years later and you say, 'I'm from the U.S. government and I'm here to help you' ... and you add on the complexity that I wear the same uniform as the guards," he said. "It's very challenging in any situation to develop trust and confidence with a client. But when you add on that torture paradigm, it's all the more difficult."
Wright notes that the US Congress has passed legislation that makes it impossible for information about the torture program to come out:"The 'original sin' being the fact that the CIA tortured these men and that they've gone to extraordinary lengths to try to keep that completely hidden from public view.So the statute that Congress passed has a number of protections to ensure that no information about the U.S. torture program will ever come out. So not only do you have statutory design, but you actually have, in practice, a very large effort to try to ensure that no ensure that no information about torture is ever made known in public."
Wright says that the US government is calling the trial fair while stacking the deck against the defense and the accused as well. Wright claims it would not be held a fair trial in any system in the world and that it is simply a "show trial." Surely there are many places in the world such as Egypt where there is even less due process when it comes to anyone accused of terrorism who also claim to have fair trials.
There were other issues that have plagued the trials. Hundreds of thousands of defense emails were turned over to the prosecution. In April it was revealed that one of the defense security officers had been approached to sign an agreement to act as a spy. In 2013 it was revealed that a meeting room where defense lawyers met with clients was bugged.
In January 2013 it was discovered that the CIA monitored trial proceedings and had a secret kill switch which muted the audio. It was discovered when a lawyer was giving testimony about CIA torture and the testimony was cut out. There is still a security officer in the court room who has the power to do this.
On February 26 the Army sent a letter to Wright notifying him he was being taken off the case to attend a nine-month graduate program in military law. Wright had requested a deferral. He received one the year before. Wright also found that upon completion of his program he would not be reassigned to the case. The letter gave him two choices: to quit the defense team and take the graduate course or resign from the Army. Wright put the interests of his client, an accused terrorist, ahead of his own career interest.With that type of attitude he should not find it difficult to find clients even though he defended the alleged master-mind of the 9/11 attacks. US government actions make it difficult tor this trial to be seen as anything other than as Wright describes it "a show trial." The case of Mohammed is particularly ironic since he appeared on Al Jazeera TV claiming responsibility for 9/11. His subsequent torture appears to be aimed at revenge and makes the prosecution's case more difficult.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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