Military interrogators posing as “lawyers are attempting to trick Guantanamo prisoners into providing information, “The Catholic Worker (TCW) reports.
This deceitful practice contributes “to the prisoners’ suspicions that the (real) lawyers are not to be trusted and could be aiding the government, TCW says in its July issue. The publication is the house organ of the Catholic Worker organization in the United States.
This subterfuge is only one of the many treacherous tactics the government is employing to sabotage the efforts of defense lawyers to represent their clients. As “Newsday, a NY daily, reported: “The military has set up a system that delays legal correspondence for weeks and requires lawyers from around the country to write motions at a single secure facility in Virginia. Detainees have alleged that interrogators have tried to turn them against their lawyers.
Lawyers have to wait for months for security clearances to visit their clients, and the military insists on seeing any legal papers they plan to show prisoners, and reserves the right to censor them or ban them entirely.
After meeting with their clients at Guantanamo, Newsday reported, lawyers must turn their interview notes over to guards, who send them on to the Pentagon facility in Virginia. There, the military tries to edit out detainees’ claims of mistreatment from the public record.
Some military lawyers have been gagged from speaking to the media after they alleged guards routinely beat Guantanamo prisoners. Australian Broadcasting(AB) reported defense lawyer Lt. Col. Colby Vokey and legal aide Sgt. Heather Cerveny, who represent a Gitmo prisoner, were ordered not to talk to reporters after they filed a formal complaint to the Pentagon about the beatings.
“I think all the other military defense lawyers have got to be feeling a little bit afraid, Muneer Ahmed, an American University law professor told AB. “There’s a chilling effect that this type of gag order has. He added, “It further undermines what we know to be a broken system of justice.
TCW said the Pentagon even imprisoned for six months Lt. Commander Matthew Diaz for disclosing names and other information about Guantanamo prisoners.
(At Guantanamo and US-run prisons in the Middle East, the Pentagon and CIA reportedly keep “ghost prisoners – captives whose names do not appear on any documents and whose presence is not reported to the Red Cross as required by international law.)
According to Newsday, guards and interrogators peruse prisoners’ private legal papers and warn them that prisoners who have lawyers will wait longer to get out. Tom Wilner, a lawyer for 12 Kuwaiti detainees, said an interrogator asked one of his clients, “Did you know your lawyers are Jews?
The Justice Department and Pentagon have claimed lawyers are creating “unrest among their clients, provoking hunger strikes. That’s in case you thought the harsh conditions at Gitmo are driving prisoners to hunger strikes and suicide.
The US government is “not only trying to deny counsel to the prisoners, but is actively trying to remove Guantanamo from any scrutiny, legal or otherwise as well as “marginalizing the lawyers representing the prisoners, TCW said.
Who needs lawyers anyway? Describing the conviction of Jose Padilla, an American citizen arrested on terrorism charges in 2002, “USA Today noted he was held for three years “without charges, without seeing an attorney and without recourse to the courts. The paper called this “shameful. It’s much more than that, though. A better description would be “totalitarian.
Sherwood Rossis a Miami-based American writer who covers political and military topics. Reach him at [email protected].