Thomas W. Hartmann - Air Force Roles - Legal Adviser To The Convening Authority - Disqualified From Participation

Disqualified From Participation

Captain Keith Allred, the Presiding Officer of Salim Ahmed Hamdan's Military Commission, disqualified Hartmann from participating in Hamdan's prosecution. He ordered that Hartmann be replaced. In a pre-trial hearing for Mohammed Jawad, Hartmann defended his "intense and direct" management style.

On August 14, 2008 Colonel Stephen Henley barred Hartmann from future participation in Mohammed Jawad's commission. Henley had arranged for depositions to be taken from other officers at Guantanamo, including US Navy Captain Patrick M. McCarthy, who testified that Hartmann had personally berated him. The Associated Press reported that Jawad's attorney David Frakt was authorized to submit arguments directly to Susan J. Crawford, the Convening Authority, as to whether charges against Jawad were justified.

Jawad's lawyer David Frakt and chief prosecutor Lawrence Morris both told reporters they anticipated that Hartmann's role in other Guantanamo commissions would be challenged. Morris stated, "We are going to have to address those in court."

The Associated Press reported that, in his testimony on August 13, 2008, Hartmann testified that he would not resign over his behavior because he believed he was doing his job properly.

In his August 14, 2008 ruling Henley wrote:

"...a Legal Advisor's post trial responsibilities necessitate he act in a quasi-judicial role; one where he must remain neutral and unbiased. The Commission finds the current Legal Advisor's editorial writings and interviews defending the military commissions' system combined with his active and vocal support of and desire to manage the military commissions process and public statements appearing to directly align himself with the prosecution team have compromised the objectivity necessary to dispassionately and fairly evaluate the evidence and prepare the post trial recommendation."

Henley also noted that one of Hartmann's responsibilities was to review and summarize for the Convening Authority pre-trial arguments from the Defense. Jawad's Defense had filed pre-trial arguments, which Hartmann reviewed, and which he failed to forward and summarize for the Convening Authority. Henley noted that Hartmann failed to explain why he failed to forward or summarize the Defenses arguments for the Convening Authority.

Henley anticipated that Hartmann's failures to perform his duties during the pre-trial period would be arguments the Defense would want to submit to the Convening Authority during the post-trial period. He stated a new Legal Advisor, one not associated with Hartmann's judgment calls, would have to advise the Convening Authority on how to address Hartmann's actions.

In testimony at a pre-trial hearing for Jawad on August 20, 2008 US Army Brigadier General Gregory Zanetti, deputy prison camps commander at Guantanamo, described Hartmann as, "abusive, bullying and unprofessional. . . pretty much across the board."

On Thursday September 4, 2008 Colonel Patrick Parrish barred Hartmann, from participating in Omar Khadr's Tribunal because of his "undue command influence". Khadr's Tribunal is the third that Hartmann has been barred from participating in.

On September 19, 2008 Hartmann was removed from his position as legal advisor and transferred to a position as director of operations, planning and development for the military commissions. Hartmann was replaced by his deputy Michael Chapman, who had been the deputy Legal Advisor since April 2005.

Hartmann attributed his removal, and appointment to the new position, to the: "explosive growth of the commissions over the last 10 or 12 months."

When contacted by Time Magazine for comment a spokesman for General Hartmann said he was not available for interviews and would have no comment. However Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, the Pentagon's second highest official, was willing to comment, saying:

"Misunderstandings of the military commission process have led to confusion and controversy. In this environment, BGEN Tom Hartmann has been the steady hand to ensure that the process is open, fair and just. I am grateful for his strong, focused and effective leadership during these dangerous and challenging times."

On August 24, 2009, Carol Rosenberg, writing in the Miami Herald wrote about Jawad's case that: "His case gained prominence when the Pentagon's legal advisor for military commissions, Air Force Brig. General Thomas Hartmann, found his file among those being considered for war crimes prosecution and propelled it to the top of the pile, in part because there were victims who could testify -- former, wounded reserve soldiers back in California."

Read more about this topic:  Thomas W. Hartmann, Air Force Roles, Legal Adviser To The Convening Authority

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