“… designed not to ascertain the truth”

That’s what an LTC from Army Intelligence says about the Combatant Status Review Tribunals at Guantanamo.

Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham, who served on the Combatant Status Review Tribunals at Guantanamo as part of his assignment in Army Intelligence, is not a happy camper. Here’s some of what he told the Senate judiciary committee about the tribunals:

They were “designed not to ascertain the truth, but to legitimize the detentions … an effort to lend a veneer of legitimacy to the detentions, to launder decisions already made.”

The evidence presented was “diluted, watered-down summaries, and it was the best they had. We said it was not good enough to justify holding someone for the rest of their life.”

“It’s a game of spin the wheel” based on “vague, generalized data” from unknown sources.

When a tribunal reaches the “wrong” decision and rules a detainee not a combatant, it is told to try again. If that doesn’t work, a new tribunal is impanelled to reach the “right” verdict. After Abraham stood firm on one case, he was never assigned to another.

“The process ensured that panels would rubber-stamp decisions already made.”

Read the whole thing (by Lesley Clark of the McClatchy chain, which as Knight-Ridder distinguished itself as virtually the only skeptical voice about the war in the entire world of daily print journalism back when GWB’s popularity was riding high). Read it, and weep for your country.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com