Former Guant

The Air Force colonel who once led prosecutions at the controversial facility took the stand Monday to discuss political pressure affecting justice there.

By Alex Koppelman

Published April 29, 2008 2:20PM (EDT)

On Monday, the former chief prosecutor at Guantánamo Bay saw one of the courtrooms there from a vantage point to which he's less accustomed: the witness stand. Air Force Col. Morris Davis was on the stand testifying on behalf of one of the signature defendants held at the facility, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, an alleged driver for Osama bin Laden.

Davis doesn't think Hamdan is innocent of the allegations leveled against him -- in court on Monday he said he has "never had any doubts about Mr. Hamdan's guilt." But he is concerned about what he sees as a political effort to pervert justice in the military commissions held at Guantánamo. According to the Washington Post, Davis "told Navy Capt. Keith J. Allred, who presided over the hearing, that top Pentagon officials, including Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon R. England, made it clear to him that charging some of the highest-profile detainees before elections this year could have 'strategic political value.'"

The Post also reports that Davis repeated a charge he has made to reporters before, that Defense Department general counsel William J. Haynes II once told him, "We can't have acquittals. We've been holding these guys for years. How can we explain acquittals? We have to have convictions." Haynes announced his retirement in February.

Davis also spoke out against a decision made by military officials to allow evidence obtained through torture to be used during the procedure. Davis, who resigned his post as chief prosecutor last year, is now heading the Air Force judiciary and plans to retire.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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