Day Two – Sunday, October 8, 2006
The next day, COL Vitali informed me in our morning staff meeting that I was scheduled to brief MGM regarding ANA military law that afternoon. I had already prepared several presentations to use to teach the ANA regarding their new system of justice so just gleaned the highlights of each presentation. When we got there, MGM told me that he’d scheduled me for the end of the day because he that I would take a lot of time. I didn’t know if that was an insult or not but I laughed when he told me that. (I think what he really meant was that he knew that this subject would take a lot of time. I mean, come on, I’m not that verbose.)
I used Subject A as the background for my brief and I actually got through my material in 37 minutes. I was quite proud of myself. The remaining two and half hours were spent arguing, no discussing, Subject A. When I got to the portion of my briefing regarding pre-trial confinement (PTC), I told MGM that he had to confine Subject A in PTC. Subject A is a threat to the soldiers and will continue to be a threat if he remains free. He is also a flight risk. If he realizes that we mean business and are going to prosecute him, he will flee. A silent concern I had was that he would flee and join the Taliban but I didn’t’ say that.
The ANA SJA, COL Karim and I disagreed on who had authority to place Subject A in PTC. My version of the code said that any commander with authority could place him in PTC. Karim said that once the case had been given to the prosecutor, only the prosecutor could place him in PTC. COL Vitali asked me who was right. I told him that based on my interpretation of the code, I was right.
Karim then showed me his version of the code. The translator translated it and we discovered that I had something different than what he had. I was sure that I had the latest version but could not understand why our codes were different. I asked the translator if the Dari version didn’t say what my English version said. He said it did so that only added to my confusion.
Because COL Vitali thought I was right and because he didn’t have a lot of respect for Karim, he said some very direct things to MGM. He said that his JAG didn’t know what he was talking about. He said that his JAG (me) was a real lawyer and a judge and that my interpretation of the code was the right one. Off line to me he said, “that guy needs to be fired.” I’m so glad that statement was not translated. I sat there thinking, “I have to work with Karim for 10 more months and you’re saying these things to his boss? Thanks for nothing.” Fortunately Karim is very forgiving and later told me not to worry about it.
Well the “discussion” continued to the point that we weren’t getting anywhere. It is the month of Ramadan/Ramazan right now. It ends around October 22 or 23. It’s the Islamic Holy Month where Muslims fast from sunup to sundown. We were quickly approaching the dinner hour. I kept looking at my watch thinking we needed to finish up so they could go and eat. Well the time to eat came and went. MGM’s aids brought the Muslims in the room plates of dates and bottles of water. But the discussion was not over.
Finally COL Vitali invited MGM and Karim to Blackhorse for dinner. On the way over I resorted to calling the JAGs who were familiar with the translation process and they assured me that I had the correct version. I joined the group late for dinner and again told Vitali that I was right. By that point Karim said that everything was OK and they were going to put Subject A in PTC.
What an evening it turned out to be.
Well the story is only getting started.