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NEW YORK -- The Pentagon official overseeing the planned military trials of Canadian Omar Khadr and other terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba resigned Monday -- just days after a published report alleged he'd insisted there be no acquittals.
As General Counsel at the U.S. defence department, William J. Haynes was a leading architect of the military commission system U.S. President George W. Bush ordered established in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
His infamous memos and public statements advocated torture and the denial of habeas corpus for detainees. In a 2002 memo, he recommended techniques such as "twenty-hour interrogations, isolation for up to thirty days, deprivation of light and auditory stimuli...and stress positions such as the proposed standing for four hours." In response to this last technique, Haynes's boss at the time, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, wrote in the memo's margins, "I stand 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours." Haynes also wanted to keep death threats, waterboarding and exposure to extreme temperatures on the table as interrogation methods. He stated, "Fact: The detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are not protected by the Geneva Conventions."
Criticism of Haynes has sharpened in the wake of the October resignation of the Chief Prosecutor of Guantánamo's military commissions, Col. Morris Davis, who charged that Haynes and other political appointees were interfering unlawfully in the process. Davis resigned when Haynes was inserted above him in the chain of command, saying, "Everyone has opinions, but when he was put above me, his opinions become orders." In a Washington Post op-ed last year, Davis wrote that he had felt pressure to prosecute cases deemed "sexy" in the run-up to the 2008 elections.
And just last week, Col. Davis made the startling claim, in an exclusive interview with The Nation, that Haynes, who oversees both the prosecution and defense, said to him, "We can't have acquittals, we have to have convictions." According to Davis, Haynes said, "if we've been holding these people for so long, how can we explain letting them get off?"