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The Pentagon permitted lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union to sit in on interrogations of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and, in some cases, advise the terrorists of their rights, reports Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

That’s the word from U.S. military sources, some of whom are astonished the ACLU was permitted to interfere in the interrogations of hardened al-Qaida and Taliban enemy combatants, according to the premium online, intelligence newsletter published by WND’s founder.

According to these sources, the ACLU lawyers advised the majority of the prisoners that they did not have to answer questions from military interrogators.

“It’s as if they were shoplifters in the U.S.,” said one source. “The lawyers may have left by now, but the damage is done. We’re sending guys down to interrogate on taxpayer’s dime for absolutely no reason now.”

Apparently, the Pentagon believes the presence of ACLU lawyers at Guantanamo will help persuade the world it can give suspected terrorists a fair trial. The ACLU has been at the forefront of allegations of abuse of prisoners.

In another example of the Pentagon’s public relations effort, it brought in Marine Corps Col. Dwight Sullivan, a veteran of six years on staff with the ACLU, to be chief defense counsel for the Pentagon’s military tribunals.

In the past, he has defended Marines convicted of murder and spared them death row. He has championed homosexual rights and fought to keep the Ten Commandments off public property.

According to a Legal Times story about Sullivan by reporter Vanessa Blum:

So far, four individuals have been charged before military commissions. The first hearings took place in a makeshift courtroom in Guantanamo Bay in August 2004. In November a federal district judge in Washington ruled the commissions were illegal, bringing the process to a halt. Last month, after a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed the lower court, Pentagon officials said trials would soon resume.

A native of Silver Spring, Md., and a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, Sullivan began his military career as a prosecutor in Okinawa, Japan, in 1987. After just one year, he was reassigned to the appellate defense division of the Navy and the Marine Corps, where he took on the case of a Marine Corps clerk convicted of murdering his supervising officer and murdering and sexually assaulting the officer’s wife.

When Sullivan came onto the case in 1989 with another junior military lawyer, the defendant, Lance Cpl. Ronnie Curtis, had already been sentenced to death. The first thing Sullivan and his co-counsel did was prepare a motion arguing that they were not qualified to provide representation in a capital case. The motion resulted in the appointment of experienced death-penalty defense lawyer Robert Morin. Now a judge on the D.C. Superior Court, Morin helped win the release of the first death row inmate in the nation exonerated by DNA evidence.

Sullivan put in roughly four years on the case – a long measure by military standards. Ultimately, in 1997, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces set aside Curtis’ death sentence because his trial lawyer hadn’t raised mitigating factors in his defense.

Sullivan handled other interesting cases as an appellate defense lawyer. In one, he successfully challenged the legality of sentencing a sailor to confinement with only bread and water for sustenance. In another he fought a Marine’s conviction for engaging in consensual sex with a potential female recruit. He got that charge dismissed, but lost on a second count that the man had oral sex with the same woman, apparently a strict no-no under military law. “They said Article 125, which is the military sodomy offense, makes it a crime just to have oral sex,” Sullivan says. He appealed, but lost. “It would have come out differently after Lawrence v. Texas,” Sullivan argues.

The unusual nature of some of Sullivan’s cases drew interest from regional ACLU chapters, and he got to know the organization.

In 1997, Sullivan was teaching evidence law at the Naval Justice School in Newport, R.I., and saw an advertisement for an opening at the Maryland ACLU. Ready to leave active duty after 10 years and interested in returning to Maryland, he applied for the job. Despite a warning from his management consultant wife that “no one gets a job from answering an ad,” Sullivan was hired.

In his six years as managing attorney in the ACLU’s Baltimore office, Sullivan won a case striking down the state’s anti-sodomy statute and fought off a referendum to repeal a gay rights law. He participated in First Amendment litigation that challenged a Ten Commandments monument in Frederick, Md., and in another case that contested the public school system’s Easter holiday. Sullivan also continued to push reforms to the death penalty. In 2000, when aides to then Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening and state lawmakers agreed to fund a study of racial inequities in the application of the death penalty, Sullivan was at the negotiating table.

In January 2003, as the country prepared to go to war in Iraq, Sullivan was called up to active duty. He was assigned to the case of death row inmate Jesse Quintanilla, a Marine Corps sergeant. Sullivan presented the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Criminal Court of Appeals with more than 100 reasons that Quintanilla’s 1996 death sentence for the murder of his unit’s executive officer was improper. One argument for retrial: A military prosecutor kept the murder weapon after the trial and had it mounted on a plaque as a trophy. While that was not the specific legal claim that carried the day, the court set aside Quintanilla’s death sentence.

In another bid to change the image of Guantanamo Bay, the Pentagon is phasing out use of Army interrogators and bringing in some from the Navy.

This article first appeared Aug. 18 in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium, online, intelligence newsletter edited by the founder of WND.

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