Army Col. James Pohl, the military judge in the 9/11 tribunal, ordered the U.S. government to turn over files containing correspondence between the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the Red Cross, Spencer Ackerman of The Guardian Reports.
The Red Cross, Ackerman notes, is the only “human rights group” that had access to the prison since 2002.
From The Guardian:
Pohl’s ruling comes expressly against the wishes of the Red Cross, which argued at Guantánamo in June that its communications with governments enjoy an “absolute privilege”, placing them beyond the purview of the military commission currently preparing to hear the fate of the 9/11 defendants.
The Red Cross argues that the Gitmo facility and the government have a privilege to privacy not unlike attorney/client or doctor/patient privileges.
Defence counsel James Connell, a Defence Department civilian, told reporters that those files are “the only independent historical record” of conditions inside the prison.
The files would give a much clearer and unadulterated picture of what prisoners have to endure.
The ruling comes right on the heels of reports from an independent study which concluded that doctors were coerced into abandoning the Hippocratic oath in order to follow CIA and military orders.
“It’s clear that in the name of national security, the military trumped (the Hippocratic Oath), and physicians were transformed into agents of the military and performed acts that were contrary to medical ethics and practice,” the study’s co-author Gerald Thomson, professor of medicine emeritus at Columbia University, told Agence France Presse.
Pohl is no stranger to presiding over controversial cases when the stakes are high.
In addition to presiding over the commissions of Gitmo detainees, in 2004, he bunked military brass’ wishes to demolish the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, ruling the area a crime scene. Pohl personally presided over the court martials of some of the guards in that prisoner abuse case.
He also served as the investigating officer during the early stages of the Fort Hood Shooter Case, bringing charges against Maj. Nadal Hasan.
His latest ruling comes at a crucial moment in the contentious history of Guantanimo Bay.
After signing an executive order that would close the facility on his inauguration day in 2009, President Obama has been unable to close the prison.
What’s more, lawyers for the detainees and human rights groups have recently railed against the administrators at Gitmo for force feeding detainees there there. In response to hunger strikes, administrators at the prison have force-fed the prisoners, saying it was necessary for their survivial.
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