Which is why you should read this book now, while the hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay is growing. You should read it now, while there is a pending request by the Pentagon to spend another $49 million for a new prison on Cuba. You should read it now, while John Yoo is still the go-to guy for quotes about interrogations, and while Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, crows on a wire, are still offering up terrible advice about prosecuting detainees.
Three thousand innocent people died on September 11, 2001. We invaded two nations because of it. We lost thousands more in the name of protecting ourselves and killed tens of thousands of people in the Middle East. All of us have lost vital freedoms in the name of national security. And yet, as Bravin reminds us, even 9/11 wasn't tragic enough to jolt the Pentagon and Justice Department and CIA and DIA into avoiding their timeless turf wars.
Come with me to page 100, where the Defense Intelligence Agency--in the form of "a reservist from Chicago, a cop in civilian life named Dick Zuley," writes Bravin--is stonewalling Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Couch, a military prosecutor, over suspect Mohamedou Ould Slahi. When Couch asks for access to "personnel and records" on the case, Zuley tells him, and thus another arm of the government of the United States, to buzz off. Slahi was never prosecuted because he was tortured. And the information he provided was evidently not credible.
Come with me to page 121, where Bravin recounts some of the reasons why "relations between the Department of Defense and the Justice Department remained poor" throughout this period (and, of course, into today as well). "Communicating with the Justice Department was 'a one-way street,'" a tribunal official and Navy officer told Couch. "'We tell them what we know, and they nod their heads. They've given us nothing.' Even the FBI's witness interview summaries," Bravin writes, "known by their form number as 302s, were off limits."
Come with me to page 133, where Bravin shares with us the infuriating details of "mock trial" staged in November 2003 in the case of Ali-Hamza Ahmed Suleiman al-Bahlul, a Yemeni man among the first transferred to Gitmo. "The case against Bahlul lacked only one desirable element," Bravin writes, "evidence of any act of terrorism that Bahlul himself committed." So what happens? A military prosecutor standing in as a defense attorney raises the issue of detainee abuse and is quickly shot down by one of the senior officers present at the "trial."
Come with me to page 160, where Bravin writes about the government's cover-up of the treatment of the aforementioned Slahi. Couch calls a senior Pentagon official assigned to investigate detainee abuse allegations. "You need to look at 760, Couch tells the officer, referring to Slahi's detainee number. "We've already been told we need to look into that one," the officer responds. Later, in March 2005, when a report on detainee abuse is released, there is no mention of Detainee 760 in the 21-page executive summary released to the public.