Precinct 333

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Bad Evidence/Incompetent Investigation -- The Gitmo Spy Cases

Now I am a little bit concerned about the reliability of this source. After all, the New York Times is not noted for being a reliable or objective news source, nor does it require either professionalism or accuracy of its employees. But the story has the ring of truth to it, so I will reluctantly link to it.

In 2003 there were a series of accusations of espionage against Muslims military personnel stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they worked with terrorist detainees. Spectacular charges were made, yet each and every one of the cases unraveled and left the government with minor issues that barely constituted wrongdoing on the part of the accused -- and had nothing to do with spying.
Even now, Defense Department officials refuse to explain in detail how the investigations originated and what drove them forward in the face of questions about much of the evidence. Military officials involved in the case have defended their actions, emphasizing that some of the inquiries continue.

But confidential government documents, court files and interviews show that the investigations drew significantly on questionable evidence and disparate bits of information that, like the car report, linked Captain Yee tenuously to people suspected of being Muslim militants in the United States and abroad.

Officials familiar with the inquiries said they also fed on petty personal conflicts: antipathy between some Muslim and non-Muslim troops at Guantánamo, rivalries between Christian and Muslim translators, even the complaint of an old boss who saw Airman Al Halabi as a shirker.

In one case an investigator even violated a directive to shut down an investigation, instead engaging in rank insubordination by rewriting his report and sending it over the head of his superior.

Each of the cases turned into a shoot first, investigate later operation. There were press conferences and weighty accusations. In the end the cases fell apart due to the discovery of reasonable explanations, erroneous translations of documents, and possible investigatorial misconduct.

Questions must be asked, and answers must be forthcoming.


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