Friday, May 30, 2008

Colonel Says Speaking Out Cost a Medal

Colonel Says Speaking Out Cost a Medal

By Josh White

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The former chief military prosecutor for terrorism trials at Guantanamo Bay thinks the Defense Department has punished him for testifying publicly that he faced political pressure to speed up the cases and to use evidence derived from torture.

Air Force Col. Morris Davis said he was denied a medal for his two years of work building military commissions cases against terrorism suspects because he resigned and later spoke out about problems in the Pentagon's Office of Military Commissions. Davis testified earlier this month at pretrial hearings for a suspected terrorist that the top legal adviser for military commissions had tampered with the prosecution and was using politics to drive critical legal issues.

Davis's dispute with Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann resulted in a military judge disqualifying Hartmann in the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan -- an action that has led other military defense lawyers to file similar motions in cases against five men accused of taking part in the conspiracy surrounding the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. An e-mail Davis wrote to defense lawyers on Tuesday, in which he said he would not cooperate in future cases, was released as part of such a motion yesterday.

Davis wrote that Pentagon officials notified him that he did "not serve honorably" as top prosecutor and would be denied the medal. Davis said he fears other reprisals before his scheduled retirement this year, despite a military judge's order that no one who testified on the matter face adverse actions.

"I tell the truth, and I get labeled as having served dishonorably," Davis said in an interview yesterday. "I'm very concerned about the chilling effect . . . on the process."

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