Susan Crawford

“We tortured Qahtani. His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case [for prosecution]. . . . The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent. . . . You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over the edge [to call it torture].”

Susan J. Crawford is an American lawyer, who was appointed the convening authority for the Guantanamo military commissions, on February 7, 2007.[1] Secretary of Defense Robert Gates appointed Crawford to replace John D. Altenburg.[2] She had previously served as judge and chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, Inspector General of the Department of Defense (appointed by George H. W. Bush), General Counsel for the Department of the Army (appointed by Ronald Reagan) and Assistant State’s Attorney for Garrett County, Maryland.[3][4]

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[edit] Education

[edit] Judge on Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces

Crawford was an active judge on the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) from 1991 – 2006. She was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to the nation’s highest military court in 1991 for a fifteen year term and later served as its chief judge from 1999 – 2004. The CAAF website shows that she is still a judge in senior status.

Crawford was the lone dissenter in a case involving Senator-Military Judge-Colonel Lindsey O. Graham. In 2006, by a vote of 4-1, the CAAF found unconstitutional the dual role of Lindsey O. Graham as a senator (Republican from South Carolina) and as a reserve officer sitting as a military judge on the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals. Crawford, in dissent, contended that there was no constitutional error in Senator Graham’s role, and that, even if there were, it was harmless because the military appellant Airman Lane had been unable to show he suffered any “actual prejudice.” She also said that, if Congress thought there were a constitutional problem in Sen. Graham’s service, it would have been free to take action, and it has not. The majority’s opinion relied upon the Constitution’s “incompatibility clause” in Article I, ” saying that “no person holding any office under the United States shall be a member of either House during his continuance in service.” It also relied upon separation-of-power principles, primarily as discussed by the Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeo (1976) and three Supreme Court precedents from the 1990s dealing with appointments to military courts. Congress, Crawford wrote, “may well desire the synergism that would result from having a member of Congress serving as a trial or appellate judge in the military justice system.”[7]

[edit] Negotiated Hicks’ plea bargain

Crawford is reported to have directly negotiated the plea bargain of David Hicks, an Australian linked with Al Qaeda and the Taliban, without any input from the Prosecution.[8]

[edit] Guantanamo discussion

When speaking at Bucknell University on April 27, 2007 Crawford said[9]

“Much of the media coverage and commentary has been negative, questioning our legal authority to hold detainees without a trial in U.S. Federal Courts,” Crawford said. “Under the law of war, the detainees at Guantanamo Bay are not held pending criminal charges. While detainees may be tried for violations of the law of war, there is no obligation to so charge them.”

During the same presentation, Crawford also said:

“One of the biggest problems at Guantanamo is that the detainees gain too much weight because we feed them so well.” In response to a question as to whether she endorses the practice of extraordinary rendition and the CIA’s kidnapping of foreign citizen’s in other countries, Crawford said: “Well, I don’t think we always have the right to kidnap foreign citizens.”[10]

On October 10, 2007 Morris D. Davis, the Chief Prosecutor for Office of Military Commissions at Guantanamo Bay Cuba, resigned in protest concluding that[11]:

“… full, fair and open trials were not possible under the current system. I resigned on that day because I felt that the system had become deeply politicized and that I could no longer do my job effectively or responsibly.”

Morris directly cited Susan Crawford as a cause of the problems in the Military Commissions process through her mixing of convening authority and prosecutor roles and her unnecessary use of closed door hearings.[11] Morris called for removal of political appointees Susan Crawford and William J. Haynes and return of control to uniformed military authorities in order to restore openness and fairness to the Military Commissions process.

On August 9, 2008 William Glaberson, writing in the New York Times wrote about Crawford’s role in the recent Hamdan conviction.[12]

There were unknowns. A Pentagon official, Susan J. Crawford, has broad power over the entire tribunal process, including naming the military officers eligible to hear the case. Her title, convening authority, has no civilian equivalent. Her decisions to grant or deny financing for items like the defense’s expert witness fees or defense lawyers’ transportation were not explained during the trial. She has never granted an interview to a reporter.

In an interview with Bob Woodward published in The Washington Post on January 14, 2009, Crawford said the following regarding why she did not refer to trial the case of Mohammed al Qahtani, the so-called “20th hijacker” of the September 11th attacks.[13]

“We tortured Qahtani. His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case [for prosecution]. . . . The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent. . . . You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over the edge [to call it torture].”

[edit] Denied travel funds to Mohamed Jawad’s military attorneys


Susan Crawford denies travel funds.

The civilian court system ordered Mohamed Jawad to be repatriated. His military attorneys requested funds to travel to Afghanistan to help aid in his repatriation. Crawford declined to fund their travel, since charges against him had been dropped. Eric Montalvo chose to travel to Afghanistan to aid Jawad at his own expense.

[edit] References

  1. ^ “Seasoned Judge Tapped to Head Detainee Trials”. Department of Defense.. February 7, 2007. http://www.defenselink.mil/Releases/Release.aspx?ReleaseID=10493. Retrieved 2007-06-01. mirror
  2. ^ “AWOL military justice”. Los Angeles Times.. December 10, 2007. http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-oe-davis10dec10,1,743034.story. Retrieved 2007-12-10. mirror
  3. ^ John T. Woolley, Gerhard Peters (1989-11-09). “Nomination of Susan J. Crawford To Be Inspector General of the Department of Defense”. The Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=17781. Retrieved 2008-08-09. mirror
  4. ^ “Susan J. Crawford, Class of 1969: 1989 Alumni Association “Achievement in Chosen Profession” Award”. http://www.bucknell.edu/x12875.xml. Retrieved 2008-08-04. mirror
  5. ^ “Susan Crawford”. Department of Defense.. http://www.defenselink.mil/news/d20070207crawford.pdf. Retrieved 2007-06-01. mirror
  6. ^ “Crawford to speak at Bucknell”. Bucknell University. April 2007. http://www.bucknell.edu/x34091.xml. Retrieved 2007-07-20.
  7. ^ Ruling: senator cannot be military judge, too, SCOTUSblog.com, September 21, 2006 (retrieved October 13, 2006)
  8. ^ “Australian Gitmo detainee sentenced”. USA Today. March 30, 2007. http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-03-30-guantanamo-hicks_N.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-20. mirror
  9. ^ Sophia Leong (April 27, 2007). “Judge Crawford discusses detainee controversy”. The Bucknellian. http://www.bucknell.edu/x34233.xml. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
  10. ^ Written notes taken during Crawford’s presentation. E-mail dantesvalley@yahoo.com for more information.
  11. ^ a b “AWOL military justice”. Los Angeles Times. December 10, 2007. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-davis10dec10,0,2446661.story?coll=la-opinion-rightrail. Retrieved 2007-12-10. mirror
  12. ^ William Glaberson (2008-08-09). “A Conviction, but a System Still on Trial”. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/10/washington/10gitmo.html. Retrieved 2008-08-08. mirror
  13. ^ Bob Woodward (2009-01-14). “Detainee Tortured, Says U.S. Official: Trial Overseer Cites ‘Abusive’ Methods Against 9/11 Suspect”. The Washington Post. p. A01. Archived from the original on 2009-09-04. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fwp-dyn%2Fcontent%2Farticle%2F2009%2F01%2F13%2FAR2009011303372_pf.html&date=2009-09-04. Retrieved 2009-01-14.