Pentagon Reassigns Controversial Guantanamo Legal Adviser As War Court Czar

hartmann25.jpgAs legal adviser at Guantanamo Bay, Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann has been one of the most aggressive advocates for the Bush administration’s military commissions. In fact, three separate judges have barred him from acting as an impartial legal adviser at the trial of detainees. Judge Stephen Henley said that Hartmann had “compromised the objectivity necessary to dispassionately and fairly evaluate the evidence and prepare the post-trial evaluation.” In the case of Salim Hamdan, a military judge ruled that Hartmann had “exerted improper influence on the case.”

The Pentagon has now quietly removed Hartmann. But as the Miami Herald notes, instead of being fired, Hartmann has essentially become a “war court czar in charge of logistics.” Pentagon acting general counsel, Daniel Dell’Orto, released a statement yesterday, nowhere mentioning Hartmann’s inappropriate advocacy activities:

Gen. Hartmann has driven the commissions process forward since his arrival in July 2007. In no small part because of his efforts and his dedication, the commissions are an active, operational legal system. Due to the dramatic increase in the number of military commission cases, the more than doubling of personnel, and the various policy, logistics and systems issues that arise regularly and frequently in the commissions, it is necessary to establish a more comprehensive executive support structure.

In an interview with the Miami Herald, Hartmann said that in his new job, he would be making sure that war on terror prosecutions move along briskly. “I want those courtrooms to be as filled up as they can possibly be — six days a week,” he said.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in December 2007, Hartmann repeatedly refused to call the hypothetical waterboarding of an American pilot by the Iranian military torture. Shortly thereafter, Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Williams, a JAG officer with the U.S. Naval Reserve, resigned, saying that Hartmann’s testimony was the “last straw” and “sold all the soldiers and sailors at risk of capture and subsequent torture down the river.”

In August, deputy prison camp commander, Army Brig. Gen. Gregory Zanetti testified that Hartmann was “abusive, bullying and unprofessional” and employed a “spray and pray” strategy to stage tribunals at Camp Justice.