For a moment, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins seems discomfited. That is not his nature. In the words of a reporter covering the revamped military commissions now trying accused terrorists in Guantanamo Bay: “Don’t play poker with the man. He has no tells.”
But Martins is visibly stung when told reporters gripe that his lengthy, detailed responses to their questions sometimes don’t contain the direct answers they seek. He winces, holding a squint as he mulls the criticism, his sinewy 6-foot-3 frame folded erectly onto a small couch by a coffee table at one end of his office in a nondescript commercial area of Northern Virginia. His response at first develops in the fashion that brings the complaint: “You have to give them the context. We’re not in the same place we were five years ago. So using the same narratives and storylines when you now have a different statute—Congress has weighed in, we’ve had the judiciary weigh in.”
Martins catches himself in midsentence, then continues in a softer voice that trails off in thought: “So. I probably do. I hope they don’t think I’m pedantic. …”
Transparency has been Martins’ mantra, a theme he returns to often since being assigned in September 2011 as chief prosecutor, the sixth in 10 years, for the controversial military commissions in Gitmo.