Military Judge shrugs off the Obama Executive Order
A military judge in Guantanamo Bay today denied the Obama administration's request to delay proceedings for 120 days in the case of a detainee accused of planning the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole warship, an al-Qaeda strike that killed 17 service members and injured 50 others.
The decision throws into some disarray the administration's efforts to buy time to review individual detainee cases as part of its plan to close the U.S. military prison at the Guantanamo naval base in Cuba. The Pentagon may now be forced to temporarily withdraw the charges against Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi citizen of Yemeni descent.
Nashiri is facing arraignment on capital charges on Feb. 9, and Judge James Pohl, an Army colonel, said the case would go ahead.
But Pohl said he found the government's reasoning "unpersuasive" and he clearly felt he was not bound to bow to the administration's wishes.
The government, Pohl wrote, sought a delay because if cases went ahead, the administration's review could "render moot any proceedings conducted during the review"; "necessitate re-litigation of issues"; or "produce legal consequences affecting options available to the Administration after completion of the review."
"The Commission is unaware of how conducting an arraignment would preclude any option by the administration," said Pohl in a written opinion, which was obtained by The Post. "Congress passed the military commissions act, which remains in effect. The Commission is bound by the law as it currently exists, not as it may change in the future."
The judge wrote that "the public interest in a speedy trial will be harmed by the delay in the arraignment."
"We just learned of the ruling here . . . and we are consulting with the Pentagon and the Department of Justice to explore our options in that case," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. Asked at a news briefing whether the decision would hamper the administration's ability to evaluate the cases of Guantanamo detainees, Gibbs replied: "No. Not at all."I imagine that we can all guess how that consultation went. "Just do it and make it happen right now." I can't swear that phrase was uttered, but I'm willing to guess that it did. I wonder if the new transparency in Government that we were promised is going to shed some light on those consultations?