Detainee-Trial Evidence Was Allegedly Destroyed
Monday, June 9, 2008
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, June 8 -- The Pentagon urged interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to destroy handwritten notes in case they were called to testify about potentially harsh treatment of detainees, a military defense lawyer said Sunday.
Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler, the attorney for Toronto-born Omar Khadr, said the instructions were included in a 2003 operations manual shown to him by prosecutors. He said they suggest that the United States deliberately thwarted evidence that could help terrorism suspects defend themselves at trial.
Kuebler said the apparent destruction of evidence prevents him from challenging the reliability of any alleged confessions. He said he will use the document to seek a dismissal of war-crimes charges against Khadr, including a murder charge for allegedly throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier during a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan.
A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, said he was reviewing the matter Sunday evening.
In an affidavit signed by Kuebler, the manual is quoted as saying, "The mission has legal and political issues that may lead to interrogators being called to testify, keeping the number of documents with interrogation information to a minimum can minimize certain legal issues."