Former New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias has been appointed as a JAG prosecutor for the Gitmo cases. Iglesias, a Native American and 24-year Navy veteran with the rank of captain, rose to national prominence with the U.S. attorney’s scandal. His appointment marks a distinct upgrade to the quality and caliber of the prosecution effort, which recently has been beset with controversy concerning its independence. Six Gitmo prosecutors have resigned or requested reassignment, many noting that political officials of the Bush Administration improperly interfered with their management of the cases or suggested the existence of vital evidence which was being withheld from the defense.
Significantly, Iglesias was dismissed as U.S. attorney when he refused to bend to improper political pressure to politicize cases he was handling. His conduct was vindicated by an internal probe of the Justice Department, the conclusions of which led former Attorney General Mukasey to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate possible criminal charges against Bush Administration officials involved in his firing. Iglesias launched his career in Guantánamo in connection with a case that provided the material for Aaron Sorkin’s play “A Few Good Men,” later a motion picture. This appointment therefore marks a return to a place he knows well.
Read my interview with Iglesias for more background on the U.S. attorney’s scandal.