By Carol Rosenberg | GUANTANAMO BAY NAY BASE, Cuba – One general testified about another general at the war court Wednesday, describing a Pentagon official fast-tracking trials here as “abusive, bullying, unprofessional.”
Moreover, in testimony, Army Brig. Gen. Gregory Zanetti, deputy prison camps commander, described the approach employed earlier this year by his counterpart, Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, this way:
“Spray and pray. Charge everybody. Let’s go. Speed, speed, speed.”
The colorful testimony – using battlefield language – was in pretrial hearings in the case of Afghan detainee Mohammed Jawad, an Afghan accused of wounding two U.S. troops by throwing a grenade in a bazaar in Kabul.
Hartmann is the legal advisor overseeing the first U.S. war crimes tribunals since World War II. Jawad’s attorney, Air Force Reserve Maj. David Frakt, wants his client’s charges dismissed on grounds that Hartmann exerted ”unlawful influence” on the GuantÃ¡namo trials from his perch at the Pentagon.
Frakt alleges in his motion that Hartmann usurped the role of a prosecutor – rather than act as an impartial supervisor – by pressuring military attorneys to charge Jawad because the case involved battlefield bloodshed.
In June, Hartmann defended his ”intense and direct” management style in testimony, saying he had pressured for speed in the interest of kick-starting sluggish military commissions, not for political reasons.
What was unusual about Wednesday’s testimony was that, while subordinates have described Hartmann’s style as abusive ”nano-management,” this was the first time an officer of equal rank testified about Hartmann’s management style.
In telephone calls and teleconferences from the Pentagon, Zanetti said, Hartmann’s demeanor ”as an attorney from a thousand miles away,” was “abusive, bullying and unprofessional . . . pretty much across the board.”
The Pentagon’s chief war crimes prosecutor at the time, now retired Air Force Col. Morris Davis, resigned the post and has testified that he believed Hartmann usurped his role.
A Navy judge, Capt. Keith Allred, agreed that it appeared that way, at least, and in May banished Hartmann from any role in the just-completed trial of Osama bin Laden’s driver, Salim Hamdan. Hamdan was convicted of providing material support for terror last week.
The current chief prosecutor, Army Col. Lawrence Morris, dismissed criticism of Hartmann’s leadership style as the product of a “superficial personality conflict. Gen. Hartmann came in, kicked over some furniture, wasn’t so gentle as some subordinates wish.”
Frakt got a court order from the trial judge, Col. Stephen Henley, to compel the testimony of Zanetti, a former air defense artillery officer with the New Mexico National Guard. At Guantanamo, his title is deputy joint task force commander.
Zanetti described struggling with Hartmann over who would command U.S. forces in Guantanamo assigned to do the logistics of the trials.
To try to work with Hartmann, who like Zanetti has one star on his uniform, the Army brigadier said he tried to engage the Air Force brigadier in a discussion on the concept of “command unity.”
”As a principle, it’s really been around since Alexander the Great. Most military people understand this one,” Zanetti said with a laugh. “Gen. Hartmann really wanted to run things.”
In a curious twist, the topic of Hartmann’s leadership style was also being scrutinized Wednesday in a different war court.
Pretrial hearings in the Jawad case took place in Courtroom No. 1, the original tribunal chamber, while a hearing in Courtroom No. 2 was held concurrently in a second case accusing Canadian Omar Khadr of the grenade killing of a U.S. Army sergeant in Afghanistan in July 2002.
Both detainees were captured as teens.
It was during Hartmann’s fast-paced tenure as legal advisor that the second war court chamber was brought on-line.
In his testimony, Zanetti credited an independent ”sense of urgency” by military staff on the ground at Guantanamo for the emerging infrastructure at Camp Justice, where the trials are held, likening it to “putting a small base together.”