In his last formal press conference as president yesterday, George Bush defended his detention policies and his broader efforts in the “War on Terror.” Despite pointed questions from reporters on the subject, and assurances from President-elect Obama that he will move quickly to shut down Guantanamo, the Bush administration seemed determined to push ahead with its controversial military tribunals until his last day in office.
According to the Associated Press, the government is asking a federal court to overturn a military judge’s decision to toss a confession because it was obtained through torture. Mohammed Jawad, who was arrested at the tender age of 16, faced threats against his and his family’s lives by Afghan police forces. After being transferred to U.S. custody, he was blindfolded and had a bag placed over his head. As a result of this treatment the judge presiding over his tribunal, Army Col. Stephen Henley through out his confession.
Apparently not concerned with the message that torturing a minor sends, the Bush administration continues to argue that his confession should stand – hoping to convict one more terror suspect before President-elect Obama takes office. Ironically, the Military Commissions Act itself, pushed through by the president and his allies before Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, prohibits the use of statements obtained through torture. Still, the government is moving forward with its request. It seems that even reflecting on his own legacy hasn’t helped Bush to grasp the damage he’s done to our nation’s system of justice.