This story’s from last Sunday, but I just need to belatedly highlight it because – well, it seems to sum up so much about that particular mix of unscrupulousness and incompetence we’ve come to know so well from the outgoing administration.
You’ve also got to love how the CIA and Pentagon busily pass the blame to each other. But in the end both simply acted on the clear message from above that building actual cases about the detainees’ guilt was all but irrelevant. Guantanamo was just a place to shut people away you didn’t want about – end. Indefinitely, apparently – God knows what they thought would have to happen with them in the long-term. Looks like there was no long-term concept of where any of this would be going, period.
Anyway, better just let the excerpts speak for themselves:
President Obama’s plans to expeditiously determine the fate of about 245 terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay [..] were set back last week when incoming legal and national security officials — barred until the inauguration from examining classified material on the detainees — discovered that there were no comprehensive case files on many of them.
Instead, they found that [..] a Cabinet-level panel named to review each case separately will have to spend its initial weeks and perhaps months scouring the corners of the federal government in search of relevant material.
Several former Bush administration officials agreed that the files are incomplete and that no single government entity was charged with pulling together all the facts and the range of options for each prisoner. [..] Charles “Cully” D. Stimson, who served as deputy assistant defense secretary for detainee affairs in 2006-2007, said he had persistent problems in attempts to assemble all information on individual cases. Threats to recommend release or transfer of a detainee were often required, he said, to persuade the CIA to “cough up a sentence or two.”
A second former Pentagon official said most individual files are heavily summarized dossiers that do not contain the kind of background and investigative work that would be put together by a federal prosecution team. He described “regular food fights” among different parts of the government over information-sharing on the detainees. [..]
Evidence gathered for military commission trials is in disarray, according to some former officials [..]. In a court filing this month, Darrel Vandeveld, a former military prosecutor at Guantanamo who asked to be relieved of his duties, said evidence was “strewn throughout the prosecution offices in desk drawers, bookcases packed with vaguely-labeled plastic containers, or even simply piled on the tops of desks.”
He said he once accidentally found “crucial physical evidence” that “had been tossed in a locker located at Guantanamo and promptly forgotten.”