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US Army Officer Raises Doubts About Guantanamo Tribunals


A U.S. Army intelligence officer and lawyer is strongly criticizing the military tribunals for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen Abraham took part in the hearings at the U.S. military base for six months starting in late 2004. In papers filed with a federal appeals court in Washington, the Army reservist and lawyer says officers conducting the hearings relied on incomplete intelligence sources to determine if detainees were enemy combatants. He says the arbitrary process failed to review evidence about the detainees that could have proved their innocence.

Abraham also says military officers serving as judges at the hearings were pressured by their commanding officers to rule against detainees.

The lawyer says he decided to come forward after learning that the officer who oversaw the program, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral James McGarrah, asserted in a sworn statement the military carefully considered the status of each detainee.

The Pentagon is defending the military tribunals as fair and impartial. Military officials also questioned Abraham's account, because of his limited time at Guantanamo.

The military has conducted tribunals for 558 detainees at Guantanamo Bay, with 520 having been classified as enemy combatants who should remain in custody. The detainees are not allowed to have a defense lawyer present, and can not examine much of the evidence against them.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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