Northern Alliance soldiers with captive (
by Steve Timmer
Nov 22, 2013, 9:00 AM

Therapeutic Nazi hunting, part two

Bounty hunting, Northern Alliance style

In Part One, I described the cases brought against John Demjanjuk; how he was fingered as Ivan the Terrible when he wasn’t, and how he was ultimately convicted of 27,900 accessory to murder charges, even though no eyewitness could testify to a single act that he had done to murder anyone, or even put him at the scene.

I wrote not to defend John Demjanjuk, but rather to condemn the post-war German law under which he was tried, and his Kafkaesque trial for murder without any witnesses to murder.

There are some other more recent examples of these same forces at work in the war in Afghanistan. I refer to the detainees at Guantanamo and how most of them got there. In a stunning report, students and faculty at Seton Hall University School of Law analyzed the data behind the detention of 517 detainees. Among the findings:

• Fifty-five percent (55%) of the detainees are not determined to have committed any hostile acts against the United States or its coalition allies.

• Only 8% of the detainees were characterized as al Qaeda fighters. Of the remaining detainees [92%], 40% have no definitive connection with al Qaeda at all and 18% are have no definitive affiliation with either al Qaeda or the Taliban.

And for our purposes here, the most amazing statistic:

• Only 5% of the detainees were captured by United States forces. 86% of the detainees were arrested by either Pakistan or the Northern Alliance and turned over to United States custody.

The report goes on to say:

• This 86% of the detainees captured by Pakistan or the Northern Alliance were handed over to the United States at a time in which the United States offered large bounties for capture of suspected  enemies.

You might say that the captors were “incentivized” to drop detainees off, collect the cash and depart, leaving various and sundry tall tales of what the detainee had done. And on this basis, people were shipped off to Guantanamo for further, um, examination.

One of the things you haven’t seen reported — by the AP or anybody else — is a stream of Pakistani and Northern Alliance witnesses traveling to Guantanamo for pretrial hearings or military commissions themselves.

You haven’t read about it because it hasn’t happened. The bounty hunters have disappeared. There are no witnesses or any competent evidence at all of war crimes committed by most of these people. They were held incommunicado for a long time, and they and their counsel, when they finally got them, had and have no practical opportunity to confront the “witnesses” against them and cross examine these witnesses to test their first hand observations, their recollection, and perhaps most importantly, their “incentives.”

The detainees and their lawyers have no practical ability or wherewithal to investigate to defend themselves. Most of the evidence against them is “classified.” I wonder if the bounty payment paid for a given detainee is discoverable by that detainee. Somehow, I doubt it.

It would be nice to know that you at least fetched a decent price, wouldn’t it?

But there you are: you stand accused and there isn’t anything you can do about it.

As in the case of John Demjanjuk, I write not to defend the detainees, but rather to condemn kangaroo justice.

In the next installment, I will discuss Michael Karkoc.

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