Thursday, January 11, 2007

Free Jack Idema Blogburst: 09/01/07

In March 2005, US Special Forces soldier Jack Idema and his men were declared innocent of kidnapping and torture on appeal. Since Jack remains illegally-imprisoned in Afghanistan's infamous Pulacharke Prison, however, it would be wise to look, again, at the first, August-September 2004, 'trial' that sent him there.

To begin, then, there was the judge in the case, Taliban sympathiser Abdul Baset Bakhtyari:
The original motion [from Jack and his defence team], like all motions filed, was ignored by Bakhtyari, who claimed the Interim Criminal Code, was merely a guideline, not really law, and that the laws of his former Taliban government would be applicable.
Quite apart from the rather obvious conflict of interest at work in having a Taliban judge try a group of Taliban hunters, this decision was no more legal than a US judge deciding to try his cases under Mexican law.

Next, there was the NDS Chief Prosecutor, Abdul Fatah, a man who had previously worked for the KGB during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan:
Fatah would pass the note up to prosecutor Dawari, who would then walk right up to the Judge’s bench and hand it to him while Jack, or later, one of the attorneys, would be talking. Bakhtyari would then read the note, and make some wild ruling. Regardless of how many times the defense objected or yelled about the secret communications, Bakhtyari would just ignore the complaint.
What we seem to be looking at here is much more serious than the procedural flaw of shutting the defence team out of communication between judge and prosecutor -- The dynamic was actually closer to the judge receiving instructions from the prosecution. So much for judicial impartiality.

What about a defence team? Well, although Idema and his men finally managed to acquire a U.S. lawyer, John Tiffany, to represent them, the state of play in the early stages of the trial was rather different:
Brent Bennett finally got a female Afghan lawyer in September 2004, ten days before the final verdict. She met Bennett ONE TIME for 20 MINUTES. She promptly informed Bennett that if she represented him Bakhtyari would not allow her to speak because she was a woman, and he did not normally allow women to appear in his court without a Burka. Then she dropped the real bomb– if she appeared in court for Bennett, she would be murdered.
There were similar problems for Jack and Brent when it came to translators. At first, 'Judge' Bakhtyari simply refused to appoint anyone to translate on the somewhat bizarre grounds that he had no intention of allowing the defence team to question any of the witnesses giving evidence against them.

After Jack filed a motion (written on paper smuggled into court under his shirt) demanding a translator, an official from the Italian Embassy was grudgingly appointed. This individual did a good job -- Too good, as far as Bakhtyari was concerned: he threatened the man with arrest if he returned to court after lunch on his first day.

Clearly, this still left the defence team in need of a translator, and Bakhtyari had this post filled by another former Soviet official whose behaviour was more to his liking:
[The] translator, who wasted no time interjecting his own thoughts on the defendants' guilt and talking about what horrible people they were. Of course he wasn't actually translating anything during this time, just offering his opinion to the court. This was common at every hearing, three difference translators were used by Bakhtyari, and all three acted as prosecutors, often refusing to translate Jack's words, or the videos the defense showed.
At one point, early on, either the third or fourth court appearance, Zorro leaned over to Jack and told him that the translator was changing all of his words and speaking as though Jack was confessing. Zorro was afraid to completely say what the translator was mis-interpreting because NDS had threatened to kill Zorro and arrest his family. Jack pointed out that the translator was making things up. The result? Upon return to NDS Zorro was placed in full body chains, where he remained for thirty days for telling Jack about the incorrect translations.
To say that Jack, Brent and the rest of Task Force Sabre 7 did not receive a fair trail in August-September 2004 is perhaps missing the point. On the strength of the above, it is quite arguable that they did not receive anything resembling a trial at all.

So what can we do? Well, anyone reading this with their own blog can sign up for the weekly Free Jack Idema Blogburst by emailing Cao or Rottweiler Puppy for details. I'd urge everyone to do this, as we're still terribly short on takers. If you want to know more about the story, Cao's Blog has a large section devoted to Jack Idema. There's also a timeline here, and, of course, a huge amount of information is available over at SuperPatriots, without whose work none of us would have learned about Jack's story.

You should also contact the following people and make your feelings known,
especially to write letters of complaint about this despicable situation:

Secret US EMBASSY Fax: - 301-560-5729
(Local US Fax: Goes RIGHT TO Ambassador)
c/o US Ambassador Ronald Neuman
US Embassy- Afghanistan
6180 Kabul Place
Dulles, VA 20189-6180

US Consul Russell Brown - 011-93-70201908 (Fired)
US Consul Addie Harchik- 011-93-70201908
(denied them water and mail at Thanksgiving- Gone)
US Consul Edward Birsner- number yet unknown
US Embassy Translator Wahid - 011-93-70201902
US Embassy Asst Consul Bashir Momman- 011-93-70201923
US Consul (friend) Dawn Schrepel- 011-93-70201908 (Fired)

Ambassador Massoud Khalili
(wounded with Massoud)
(Great and Kind man)
Islamic State of Afghanistan
Embassy of Afghanistan
Ankara, Turkey

H.E. Said Tayeb JAWAD (Afghan Ambassador- powerful in US)
(Northern Alliance Good Guy Fired- New Pro Taliban Ambassador)
Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington
2341 Wyoming Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: (202) 483-6414
Fax: (202) 483-9523

Mr. Jahed Hamrah, Consul General (pro-Taliban)
CONSULATE GENERAL OF
AFGHANISTAN IN NEW YORK
360 Lexington Avenue,
11th Floor New York,
New, York, NY 10017
Tel.: (212) 972-2276 or 972-2277
Fax: (212) 972-9046

Chairman Peter Hoekstra
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
H-405, U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20515-6415;
Office: 202-225-4121 / Fax: 202-225-1991
Toll Free: (877) 858-9040

M. Cherif BASSIOUNI
Independent Expert of the Commission on Human Rights
On the Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
UNOG-OHCHR
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Ph: +41(0)22 917 97 27 Fax: +41(0)22 917 90 18

Senator Steven Saland (Jack's Rep and Neighbor)
9 Jonathan Lane
Poughkeepsie, NY 12603

Senator Elizabeth Dole (Jack's Rep)
United States Senate
555 Dirksen Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Ph: 202-224.6342
Fax: 202-224.1100

Senator Richard Burr (Interested)
United States Senate
217 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-3154 / Fax: 202-228-2981

Senator Bill Nelson (in the fight on Jack's Side)
United States Senate
Hart Senate Office Building
Room 716
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-5274 / Fax: 202-228-2183
FL Fax 407-872-7165

Senator Dianne Feinstein (Bennett's Representative)
United States Senate
Hart Office Building, Room 331
Washington, D.C. 20510
202-224-3841

Representative Mike McIntyre (Jack's Representative)
United States Congress
2437 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202-225-2731 / Fax 202-225-5773

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
(Reference Captain Bennett- CA citizen)
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841 / Fax: 916-445-4633


Finally, PLEASE NOTE: The SuperPatriots and Jack images on this site are used with WRITTEN COPYRIGHT PERMISSION and any use by any third party is subject to legal action by SuperPatriots.US



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