June 05, 2007

Courting Disaster


From FOX News: Charges Against Guantanamo Bay Detainees Dismissed.

Military judges dismissed charges Monday against a Guantanamo detainee who chauffeured Usama bin Laden and another who allegedly killed a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan, marking a stunning setback to Washington's attempts to try detainees in military court.

In back-to-back arraignments for Canadian Omar Khadr and Salim Ahmed Hamdan, of Yemen, the U.S. military's cases against the alleged Al Qaeda figures dissolved because, the two judges said, the government had failed to establish jurisdiction.

They were the only two of the roughly 380 prisoners at Guantanamo charged with crimes, and the rulings stand to complicate efforts by the United States to try other suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban figures in military courts.

Hamdan's military judge, Navy Capt. Keith Allred, said the detainee is "not subject to this commission" under legislation passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush last year. Hamdan is accused of chauffeuring bin Laden's and being the Al Qaeda chief's bodyguard.

The new Military Commissions Act, written to establish military trials after the U.S. Supreme Court last year rejected the previous system, is full of problems, defense attorneys argued. ...

A Pentagon spokesman said the issue was little more than semantics.

Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon told The Associated Press said the entire Guantanamo system was set up to deal with people who act as "unlawful enemy combatants," operating outside any internationally recognized military, without uniforms, military ranks or other things that make them party to the Geneva Conventions.

"It is our belief that the concept was implicit that all the Guantanamo detainees who were designated as 'enemy combatants' ... were in fact unlawful," Gordon said.

Sullivan said that reclassifying detainees as "unlawful," will require a time-consuming overhaul of the whole system. But Gregory McNeal, a law professor at Pennsylvania State University, said nothing prevents the Defense Department from reconvening hearings for detainees headed to trial and declaring them to be "unlawful" combatants.

Posted by Forkum at June 5, 2007 03:34 PM