Guantanamo Detainee Cases Thrown Out

Federal judges have dismissed charges against eight of 15 Guantanamo inmates who said their confessions were forced. Rejection of evidence was based on interrogation tactics that ranged from verbal threats to physical abuse that the judges called torture.

“We thought all along that this could happen,” the former commander of the Department of Defense Criminal Investigation Task Force, Brittain Mallow,  told ProPublica, the independent investigative Web site.

“There was no question in our minds that that would be a defense strategy, to say, ‘This person was treated badly, and you can’t trust anything he told anyone.’ But we didn’t control all the interviews of the detainees, so what we could do was limited,” Mallow said.

So-called “coercion-tainted evidence” is a major problem for the Obama administration, which would like to close Guantanamo. Of the 176 prisoners still there, nearly 50 are considered too dangerous to release but unlikely to be prosecuted because of the way evidence against them was gathered.

Guantanamo detainees have been able to bring challenges of their detention before federal courts following a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision. Detainees have been otherwise subjected to military commissions, set up during the Bush administration.

What has happened during legal proceedings in federal courts has been difficult to piece together, given the amount of litigation that’s been brought. Analysis of court action was undertaken by journalists working with ProPublica, which has followed detention issues closely.

The latest story in ProPublica’s coverage, “Judges Reject Interrogation Evidence in Gitmo Cases,” was written by Chisun Lee and co-published in The National Law Journal.