File:Morris Davis - Official bio pic.png

Colonel Morris D. Davis (born July 31, 1958) is a United States Air Force officer and lawyer, was appointed to serve as the third Chief Prosecutor in the Guantanamo military commissions.[1] He resigned from the position and retired from active duty in October 2008.

Military careerEdit

Morris Davis's military career[2]
date rank post
1983-1988 Lieutenant/Captain Eastern Space and Missile Center, Patrick Air Force Base
1989-1991 Captain/Major Bolling Air Force Base
1991-1992 Major student, The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School, U.S. Army
1992-1995 Major instructor, Air Force Judge Advocate General School
1995-1997 Lieutenant Colonel Staff Judge Advocate, Columbus Air Force Base
1997-2000 Lieutenant Colonel Staff Judge Advocate, Dyess Air Force Base
2000-2003 Lieutenant Colonel/Colonel Deputy Commandant, Air Force Judge Advocate General School
2003-2005 Colonel Director, Air Force Legal Information Services, Air Force Legal Services Agency
January 2005-
September 2005
Colonel Staff Judge Advocate F.E. Warren Air Force Base
September 2005-
October 2007
Colonel Chief Prosecutor, Guantanamo military commissions


Morris Davis's educational career[2]
year degree
1980 Bachelor of science in criminal justice, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina
1983 Juris doctorate, North Carolina Central University School of Law, Durham, North Carolina
1992 Master of laws in military law (concentration in government procurement law), The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School, Charlottesville, Virginia
1992 Master of laws in government procurement law, The National Law Center, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.


Davis has received the following awards and recognition.[2]

Guantanamo serviceEdit

Unlike his predecessors, Fred Borch and Robert L. Swann, Davis has been a visible public figure.[1][3][4][5][6] His statements have triggered controversy.[7][8]

Questionable claimsEdit

A National Post article published January 10, 2006 contained extensive quotes from Davis's arguments before the commission, including at one in which Davis said: "Thanks to the American medics who stepped over their dead friend and tended to Mr. Khadr, he's alive today,"[4]

SFC Christopher Speer, a Special Forces medic, was fatally wounded along with two coalition forces, and multiple U.S. forces were wounded and evacuated as a result of the firefight (U.S. v Omar Khadr, Nov 2005). Though medics did not specifically step over Speer's body to tend to Khadr's wounds, two other dead coalition forces were on the ground as Khadr was receiving treatment and evacuation. SFC Speer was also evacuated from the scene and died in a hospital ten days after the firefight.

Davis also asserted that Sergeant Layne Morris was wounded by the same grenade that mortally wounded Speer. But at least one detailed newspaper account described Morris being wounded prior to the aerial bombardment, four hours prior to Speer's wounding.[9]

Comments on the character of the suspects and their attorneysEdit

Khadr's attorney, Muneer Ahmad of American University, accused Colonel Davis of ethical misconduct for referring to Khadr as a terrorist and a murderer during the January 10 press conference. Ahmad asked the Presiding Officer to sanction Colonel Davis for the comments, but the presiding officer found the comments were fair and balanced given repeated negative out of court statements Ahmad made for months prior to the hearing. When asked why the prosecution had finally broken its silence, Davis said:[10]

"For a number of months we've sat on the sidelines. We've just kind of taken it. There comes a time when you don't take it anymore."

On February 28, 2006 Davis spoke out again regarding the commissions, saying:[5]

"Remember if you dragged Dracula out into the sunlight he melted? Well, that's kind of the way it is trying to drag a detainee into the courtroom."

Davis has also challenged military counsel for Australian detainee David Matthew Hicks by threatening prosecution of Major Michael Mori, Hicks's detailed lawyer, for violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.[6][11][12][13] Mori responded "Are they trying to intimidate me?"

"The Guantánamo I Know"Edit

On June 26, 2007 an op-ed by Davis, entitled "The Guantanamo I know", was published in the New York Times.[3]

Supreme court to hear challenges to the Military Commissions ActEdit

In addition to authorizing military commissions similar to those the Supreme Court overturned the Military Commissions Act of 2006 was intended to close off all the remaining writs of habeas corpus. On June 29, 2007 the Supreme Court agreed to hear outstanding habeas corpus, opening up the possibility that they might overturn some or all of the Military Commissions Act.[14]

Davis called the Supreme Court's intention to review the MCA "meddling": [15]

"This constant uncertainty and meddling certainly takes a toll on people, It would be nice to have some certainty for a change."

Resignation as Chief Prosecutor at Guantanamo BayEdit

In October 2007 Colonel Davis resigned from his position as Chief Prosecutor and became the Head of the Air Force Judiciary stating that "The guy who said waterboarding is A-okay I was not going to take orders from. I quit", hours after he was informed that controversial General Counsel William Haynes would be his superior.[16] He also charged that there was meddling from the Pentagon, and claimed this presented serious conflicts of interest:[17]

Davis states that he was denied an end-of-tour medal for his two years at Guantanamo because he resigned and later spoke out about problems in the Pentagon's Office of Military Commissions. Davis stated about the medal denial, "I tell the truth, and I get labeled as having served dishonorably. I'm very concerned about the chilling effect . . . on the process".[18]

Davis has frequently spoken out against the Commissions, since his resignation.[19]

Post-military careerEdit

Davis was named the head of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division of the Congressional Research Service in December 2008; and was fired from this job in late November or early December 2009.[20] This occurred because of an op-ed Davis wrote in the Wall Street Journal.[21] Davis criticized a preliminary report from the inter-agency review team President Obama authorized for proposing looser judicial standards when the suspects faced more serious charges.

Davis wrote: "The administration must choose. Either federal courts or military commissions, but not both, for the detainees that deserve to be prosecuted and punished for their past conduct."

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Canadian no innocent, U.S. prosecutor argues [1] Beth Gorham January 10, 2006
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Biography: Colonel Morris D. Davis" (PDF). Department of Defense. Retrieved 2007-06-28. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Davis' remarks resulted in legal actions against him for prosecutorial misconduct and bar complaints. After threatening to have defense counsel prosecuted, the accused in that matter was offered a deal to save Davis' career. The Guantánamo I Know [2] Morris D. Davis June 26, 2007
  4. 4.0 4.1 Prosecutor says teen should be tried by military tribunal [3] January 10, 2006
  5. 5.0 5.1 Prosecutor vows to proceed with war crimes trials [4] February 28, 2006[dead link]
  6. 6.0 6.1 Terror Case Prosecutor Assails Defense Lawyer [5] The New York Times March 5, 2007
  7. All Is Not Well at Guantánamo (6 Letters) [6] June 27, 2007
  8. Guantánamo and U.S. justice [7]
  9. The Good Son [8] December 28, 2002
  10. U.S. tribunal rejects gag order in Khadr case [9] January 13, 2006
  11. Cully's Mentor MOE and His Six Point Plan [10] H. Candace Gorman March 5, 2007
  12. Is There a Larry Lurking in the Bushies? [11] H. Candace Gorman May 22, 2007
  13. US military commissions prosecutor slams Hicks military lawyer for alleged excesses [12] Bernard Hibbitts March 5, 2007
  14. Supreme Court to hear Guantanamo Bay detainee habeas cases [13] Jeannie Shawl June 29, 2007
  15. Court to hear Guantanamo prisoners appeals [14] James Vicini June 29, 2007[dead link]
  16. Melia, Michael. Toronto Star, "Ex-Gitmo prosecutor charges Pentagon interference", April 29, 2008
  17. Ex-Prosecutor Alleges Pentagon Plays Politics [15] Josh White October 20, 2007
  18. White, Josh, "Colonel Says Speaking Out Cost A Medal", Washington Post, May 29, 2008, pg 9.
  19. Fmr. Chief Guantanamo Prosecutor Says Military Commissions “Not Justice” [16] Amy Goodman 2008-07-16 mirror
  20. [17]
  21. Justice and Guantanamo Bay: It is a mistake to try some detainees in federal courts and others by military commissions [18] Morris Davis 2009-11-10

External linksEdit