Military Commission Proceedings Resume Today
Washington D.C. May 27, 2010. A former Army prosecutor faces retaliation for testifying before Congress and a military commission about torture and other Constitutional violations at Guantanamo Bay. As the Guantanamo military commissions resume proceedings today, Lieutenant Colonel Darrel Vandeveld awaits a June 1decision from a “promotion” board that may deny him an honorable retirement after nearly 20 years of service.
When Lt. Col. Vandeveld was subpoenaed to testify before Congress regarding the Military Commissions Act of 2009, he stated, “The military commission system is broken beyond repair. Even good faith efforts at revision…leave in place provisions that are illegal and unconstitutional.”Instead of confronting the hard truths of his testimony, the Army chose to retaliate against Lt. Col. Vandeveld for his courageous stand to uphold his oath to protect the Constitution, and resumed the commissions at Guantanamo with minimal revisions.
In September 2008, Lt. Col. Vandeveld-a highly decorated member of the U.S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate General Corps who served in Bosnia, Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan-resigned from his position as a prosecutor at Guantanamo after concluding that he could not ethically or legally prosecute the case of detainee Mohammed Jawad.
After his resignation, Lt. Col. Vandeveld was ordered by a commission judge to testify as a defense witness in Jawad’s case. The Jawad case exposed many of the serious violations occurring at Guantanamo, including abusive interrogations, evidence withheld from the defense, judicial incompetence, and confessions coerced through torture. Immediately following his testimony, Lt. Col. Vandeveld was given his first negative performance review.
Now, just four months away from completing 20 years of decorated service to our nation, the military is threatening Lt. Col. Vandeveld’s ability to retire honorably. The promotion board that will meet on June 1 has the authority to refer him to a show cause board where he would be forced to justify his continued service in the Army.
Executive Director of the National Whistleblowers Center, Stephen M. Kohn, said:
“We cannot allow the Army to destroy a distinguished soldier because he had the courage speak honestly about constitutional violations when ordered to do so. It is time to draw our line in the sand. All employees, whether they work for an oil company, a Wall Street firm, or our military, must feel free to speak the truth without fear of retaliation.”