The Price of Integrity

Published: May 28, 2008

By Jim Lichtman
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Washington Post, May 29 – “Air Force Colonel Morris Davis said he was denied a medal for his two years of work building military commissions cases against terrorism suspects because he resigned and later spoke out about problems in the Pentagon’s Office of Military Commissions.” (see “Courage Under Fire,” May 2).

Sadly, this is the fate of many who choose honesty and duty over loyalty.

Colonel Davis was appointed Chief Prosecutor in 2005 for the terrorism trials at Guantanamo Bay.  However, he resigned in 2007 when faced with heavy, political pressure to speed up the cases as well as demands to use information derived from “waterboarding,” a tactic labeled by Presidential candidate John McCain as torture.

“I instructed my staff, back in 2005,” Colonel Davis said, “that we’d use no evidence derived from waterboarding. My opinion is, if you induce someone to believe he’s going to die if they don’t talk, that has no place in a courtroom.”

Last month, (April 28) Colonel Davis appeared at the detention facility “…to argue on behalf of a terrorism suspect [and] that the military justice system has been corrupted by politics and inappropriate influence from senior Pentagon officials.”

According to today’s (May 29) Washington Post story, “Davis wrote that Pentagon officials notified him that he did ‘not serve honorably’ as top prosecutor and would be denied the medal.”

Prior to this, Colonel Davis received the following awards and recognition for his service:

  • Outstanding Judge Advocate for Headquarters Air Force, 1990
  • Air Force Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters
  • Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters
  • Air Force Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster
  • Southwest Asia Service Medal

“Davis said he fears other reprisals before his scheduled retirement this year, despite a military judge’s order that no one who testified on the matter face adverse actions.”

“I tell the truth, and get labeled as having served dishonorably,” Colonel Davis said.  “I’m very concerned about the chilling effect… on the process.”


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