Last week on January 13, 2009, former military prosecutor Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld submitted a declaration in US federal court on behalf of Mohammed Jawad's habeas corpus petition, noting "reliable evidence that he was badly mistreated by U.S. authorities both in Afghanistan and at Guant?namo, and he has suffered, and continues to suffer, great psychological harm."
Vandeveld's declaration is an important illustration of why President Obama's suspension of military commissions at Guantanamo Bay is so timely and essential. Jawad, who was captured in Afghanistan as a juvenile, was subjected to sleep deprivation at Guantanamo, moved from cell to cell 112 times in a 14-day period in 2004, a victim of the so-called "frequent flier" program. Vandeveld resigned as lead prosecutor in Jawad's case before the Guantanamo military commissions in September 2008. His declaration urges Jawad's release, stating Jawad would pose "no threat whatsoever," concluding "six years is long enough for a boy of sixteen to serve in virtual solitary confinement, in a distant land, for reasons he may never fully understand."
In a Washington Post op-ed piece Lt. Col. Vandeveld stated:
[it] is impossible to prepare a fair prosecution against detainees at Guantanamo Bay. I had concluded that the system of handling evidence is a haphazard farce.
There is a way out of Guantanamo. It is not as difficult as some apologists have made it seem. Many of the detainees have not committed war crimes and the handful of real terrorists and war criminals can be tried in federal court. The Department of Justice has a well-developed expertise in these cases and can achieve justice with transparency and rigorous due process.
In his conclusion, Vandeveld strongly urged President Obama to waste no time in
appointing a civilian with full authority, competence and expertise to review detainee files and determine who can be prosecuted and who should be released, and her or his determination should be final….No one who has fought for our country and its values has done so to enable what happened in Guantanamo.