NPR, United States, Cuba discussed on Morning Edition

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

An NPR investigation revealing gross mismanagement and waste at the US prison at Guantanamo bay Cuba that came after former lawyer at the military court filed a federal whistle blower complaint today we tell you about another allegation that same lawyer says he was fired for pursuing settlements to avoid the death penalty for detainees he represented pushing instead for life in prison and pure Sasha Pfeiffer has the story the whistle blower is retired airforce colonel Gerry brown and he became legal adviser to the head of Guantanamo's court in April twenty seventeen ten months later he in his boss were abruptly terminated we were called under false pretenses to meeting the Pentagon and then handed letters with no explanation and our credentials were season we were escorted out of the building brown says he'd been shocked by Guantanamo's lack of progress just one finalized conviction and forty prisoners still there in its cost more than six billion dollars since two thousand two he also says prosecutors are unlikely to win death penalty convictions because so much evidence is tainted by torture if they do get convictions the appeals process could take another fifteen years and cost billions more so brown and his boss Harvey Risch a cough he used to head Guantanamo's court had an idea to save time and money negotiate plea deals with prisoners facing the death penalty including caliche Sheik Muhammad alleged mastermind of the September eleventh terrorist attacks he talked to me from the very beginning about his belief that the commission's had ground more or less to hold and he felt strongly about taking a position to move the cases and get justice for the family members rather than go to trial the inmates would plead guilty and get a life prison sentence that could resolve the court's legal gridlock they haven't been successful they're incredibly expensive wouldn't it be better if we just said they didn't work this time but Klay deals are unacceptable to people who believe that the men behind the almost three. thousand deaths caused by the nine eleven attacks should be executed at a military court hearing NPR attended in July lead prosecutor told the judge that any torture the prisoners were subjected to is quote like a further two in and feel of what these people are responsible for so prosecutors are insisting on the death penalty. soon after starting settlement talks brown in his boss were fired the Pentagon says they lost their jobs not because they were negotiating with prisoners but for not following proper chain of command and their quote needlessly destructive and divisive manner wish to cough would not comment for this story neither would any current Guantanamo prosecutors or the US office of special counsel were brown filed this complaint but former prosecutor more status would there's a deal to be struck that has some light at the end of the tunnel for the detainee and some finally for the government then thinking we were sitting down having to talk about Davis was one time most chief prosecutor from two thousand five to two thousand seven he says it's become a symbol of human rights violations and since the government says it can keep holding the prisoners even if they're found not guilty he considers settlements a practical alternative otherwise it's just throwing more money after money has already been wasted NPR spoke with the lead lawyers for all six one time to move prisoners facing the death penalty each of them acknowledge the brown in Russia cough had approached them about a plea deal David Nevin was until recently the top attorney for collegiate Muhammad terms of what could accelerate the process if the death penalty came off the table. then with that with that change everything hello yeah we'd be done we've been done a long time ago that it is one of numerous defense lawyers who for years have been calling the military commissions legal theater and a show trial because even if they're quit and they will be released and if they're convicted and sentenced to death the odds are that they will die in prison before they can ever be executed so there is an exercise in futility and you really have to ask yourself is this a wise use of resources what's your answer to add my answer is absolutely not it's an utter waste of time and money the Pentagon says Guantanamo's military court in prison costs three hundred and eighty million dollars a year but several one time the lawyers told NPR that tally is probably an underestimate because it doesn't include resources from other government agencies or service members salaries like the eighteen hundred guards for Guantanamo's forty prisoners what that any will bill does include our government charter flights carrying just a few passengers to and from the island hundreds of thousands of dollars of government devices intentionally destroyed each year due to spills of classified information Pentagon funded defense attorneys billing about half a million dollars a year and total legal costs of nearly sixty million dollars annually this is ridiculous Cheryl Borman is the lead attorney for one lead but not touch who is accused of helping train some of the nine eleven hijackers we could secure these men until they.

Coming up next