‘Imagine the Worst’: Why a Guantanamo Prosecutor Withdrew From the Case

By Jess Bravin, The Atlantic, 11 February 13

Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Couch truly believed Mohamedou Ould Slahi was guilty. He also believed that Slahi’s interrogators had broken the law – tormenting him physically and sexually, and threatening the gang-rape of his mother.

Stuart Couch had been waiting nearly two years to start this job. He had been waiting since September 11, 2001.

Couch, a lieutenant colonel in the United States Marine Corps, was a military prosecutor. When President George W. Bush decreed that the 9/11 perpetrators would face trial by military commission, a form of martial justice last used against German and Japanese war criminals following World War II, Couch had volunteered for the mission.

Arriving at Guantanamo in October 2003…

[fast-forwarding to the end of the article]
…Couch sent Swann a memorandum. “Due to legal, ethical, and moral issues arising from past interrogations of this detainee, I refuse to be associated with any further prosecution efforts against him,” it said. “As a legal matter, I am of the opinion these techniques violate provisions of the 1984 United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and any statements produced by them should be excluded as evidence against this detainee pursuant to Article 15 of the Convention. If these techniques are deemed to be ‘torture’ under the Convention, then they would also constitute criminal violations of the War Crimes Act, 18 U.S. C. §2441.”

In other words, the interrogators should be prosecuted. Couch continued:

“As an ethical matter, I opine that the interrogation techniques utilized with this detainee are discoverable by defense counsel, as they relate to the credibility of any statements given by him. As discoverable material, I have an ethical duty to disclose such material to the defense.

“As a practical matter, I am morally opposed to the interrogation techniques employed with this detainee and for that reason alone, refuse to participate in his prosecution in any manner.”

Read the full article at The Atlantic


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