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Guantanamo: Judge Dismisses Charge

Bumped and Updated: (The dismissal of charges mentioned in the headline is referenced below on June 9th)

Meanwhile, there's been some very interesting developments in this case.

Omar Khadr, who was Osama bin-Laden's chauffeur, has been held without trial in Guantanamo for five years (see below). Khadr is a Canadian citizen from a Toronto family with strong AQ ties, and was a minor (15 years old) at the time of his arrest.

A few days ago Lieutenant-Commander William Kuebler, the American lawyer assigned by the US Government to defend Omar Khadr, railed on the Canadian government for not coming to the aid of a Canadian citizen who has been subjected to what Kuebler described as intolerable treatment and grossly unfair legal procedures.

Kuebler's call has now been met by the Canadian Bar Association [CBA], which sent an immediate, urgent request to the Canadian PM.

Canada remains the only Western country with a citizen awaiting military trial at the controversial detention facility.

Mr. Khadr's alleged activities could be considered unlawful under Canada's Antiterrorism Act - although neither he nor any members of his family have ever been charged with a crime in Canada.

In his speech, LCdr. Kuebler said it is inexplicable that Canada stands by silently as a citizen whose alleged crime was committed while he was still "a child" is being systematically railroaded. He urged the CBA to condemn the federal government for leaping to oppose the use of child soldiers in countries such as Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka, yet hypocritically permitting the U.S. to have free rein over a 15-year-old boy.

Mr. MacCarthy [CBA spokesman] said, "If the Canadian government chooses to ignore an appeal for swift action from an association that has developed as much credibility over the years [the CBA], then I think the federal government will have to be accountable to the general public and explain why they can ignore such a blatant violation of the rule of law."

The five years that Khadr has been imprisoned is one year less than the maximum sentence he would have received had he been tried and convicted of murder as a minor under Canadian law.

Watch for further updates...


Bumped and Updated June 9, 2007: Pentagon Wants Guantanamo Cases Reviewed.

The Defense Department said Friday that it will ask two judges to reconsider their decisions earlier this week that stalled the military's move to put detainees at Guantanamo Bay on trial.

Update June 4, 2007: A second detainee has had his charges dismissed.

capt.ba4b4e9d65e54ec0a95c1b6c436c3ded.guantanamo_trials_ny126.jpgMilitary judges dismissed charges Monday against a Guantanamo detainee accused of chauffeuring Osama bin Laden and another who allegedly killed a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan, throwing up roadblocks to the Bush administration's attempt to try terror suspects in military courts. In back-to-back arraignments for Salim Ahmed Hamdan of Yemen and Canadian Omar Khadr the U.S. military's cases against the alleged al-Qaida figures dissolved because, the two judges said, the government had failed to establish jurisdiction.

Hamdan is "not subject to this commission" under legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Bush last year, said Navy Capt. Keith Allred, Hamdan's military judge, Monday evening. Hamdan is accused of chauffeuring bin Laden and being the al-Qaida 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.



[Original June 4, 2007 report begins here]

The Associated Press (via The Houston Chronicle)

Omar_Khadr.jpgA military judge on Monday dismissed terrorism-related charges against a prisoner charged with killing an American soldier in Afghanistan, in a stunning reversal for the Bush administration's attempts to try Guantanamo detainees in military court.

The chief of military defense attorneys at Guantanamo Bay, Marine Col. Dwight Sullivan, said the ruling in the case of Canadian detainee Omar Khadr could spell the end of the war-crimes trial system set up last year by Congress and President Bush after the Supreme Court threw out the previous system. The ruling immediately raised questions about whether the U.S. will have to further revise procedures for prosecuting prisoners, leading to major delays.[...]

The Military Commissions Act, signed by Bush last year, specifiies that only those classified as "unlawful" enemy combatants can face war trials here, Brownback noted during the arraignment in a hilltop courtroom on this U.S. military base.

Sullivan said the dismissal of Khadr case has "huge" impact because none of the detainees held at this isolated military base in southeast Cuba has been found to be an "unlawful" enemy combatant.

"It is not just a technicality -- it's the latest demonstration that this newest system just does not work," Sullivan told journalists. "It is a system of justice that does not comport with American values."

Sullivan said that in order to reclassify Khadr -- and other detainees -- as "unlawful" enemy combatants, the whole Combatant Status Review Tribunal system would have to be overhauled, a time-consuming act.

Sullivan said the judge hearing the case of the only other Guantanamo detainee currently charged with crimes is not bound by Brownback's ruling but that he expected the judge would make the same decision.

That other detainee is Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who is accused of chauffeuring Osama bin Laden and being the al-Qaida chief's bodyguard. His arraignment was scheduled for Monday afternoon.

Brownback's ruling came just minutes into Khadr's arraignment, in which he faced charges he committed murder in violation of the law of war, attempted murder in violation of the law of war, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism and spying.

"The charges are dismissed without prejudice," Brownback said before he adjourned the proceeding. A prosecutor, Army Capt. Keith Petty, said he had been prepared to show Khadr was an unlawful combatant because he fought for al-Qaida, and that he had videotapes showing Khadr making and planting explosives targeting American soldiers.

Why am I not surprised. Republicans can't be trusted to tie their shoes, much less secure our nation.


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Comments (14)

Xennady:

LeeWard you still amaze me.This little bastard should have been shot as soon as he was caught per the Geneva conventions and here you are condemning Republicans for-what? NOT shooting him? Letting lawyers decide his fate? Bowing to the octogenarians on the supreme court who declined to read the Geneva conventions? What? Seriously-I'm not sure what you're complaining about here.Either you're upset that the hated Republicans have let leftist morons run the judicial process-which I doubt-or you have sided with Al-Qaeda.Which is it?

Lee Ward:

"here you are condemning Republicans for-what? NOT shooting him?"

No, for not effectively executing on the war on terror. The charges against this guy have been dismissed.

I find that amazing.

My local prosecutor would not a let a crack-selling junkie get off like this - but the Republican administration botched this job so badly that this guy, who has been in jail for FIVE years, has had his charges dropped.

What incredible incompetence...

Xennady:

Leeward...uh...well, I guess I agree with you on this.It is amazing, isn't it?

Lee Ward:

And I take with a grain of salt the claim in the linked article that this will have far-reaching effect - it's just too incredible to believe - I don't want to believe it's true (emphasis mine)

Sullivan said the dismissal of Khadr case has "huge" impact because none of the detainees held at this isolated military base in southeast Cuba has been found to be an "unlawful" enemy combatant.

"It is not just a technicality -- it's the latest demonstration that this newest system just does not work," Sullivan told journalists. "It is a system of justice that does not comport with American values."

Naw - my government isn't that stupid... is it?

gattsuru:

I hate to question the excellent reporting of the Associated with terrorists Press, but isn't this just a technicality? The Department of Defense, in 2004 paperwork, didn't follow rules set forward by Congress in 2006? This shows some inherent and unrepairable flaw in the system?

Hell, it's even fairly apparent than Mr. Khadr counts as an unlawful enemy combatant under any reasonable definition.

The case was only dismissed without prejudice -- the DoD can, should, and will reinitiate charges. The judge followed the law, but this is just a matter of paperwork.

Lee Ward:

Sounds like you share the same skepticism I have that it really is as "huge" as the Sullivan quote above makes it sound.

I wonder if the AQ JAG office filed an amicus brief on this?
Surely the AQ UCMJ has case history that will rebut the inevitable refiling of charges?

gattsuru:

As frightening as it may be for me to agree with you on something more debatable than the color of a clear sky, yeah, that's pretty much my take on things.

There's just nothing here. Democrats shouldn't want to take this case up : the Department of Defense still has quite a complete (and, yes, torture-free) case showing he willingly and intentionally threw grenades at United States troops without being a soldier himself, and all this case means is that the DoD has to sign some more paperwork before they can end up tossing him in a cell with Bubba. It doesn't forward a case that the holding methods or anything else were illegal or unconstitutional, even.

There's not even anything for Republicans to be pissy over. We couldn't really expect the DoD to follow rules set two years in the future, after all, but just as equally we do expect the current state of the law to limit judicial action, and the law clearly states that the judge would only have jurisdiction over those enemy combatants that had been specifically marked as unlawful.

I guess you can make a point about the unreliability of the Associated Press's reporting -- taking Sullivan's assertion that "the whole Combatant Status Review Tribunal system would have to be overhauled" without a slight grain of salt, since the CSRT system is mostly built toward this goal anyway and will simply need to change the items on the paperwork -- but it's really not the best target available given the AP's past.

Lee Ward:

If ANY of these guys walk on a technicality...

gattsuru:

It'll be better than convicting someone for something they didn't do. Neither is particularly likely, though, even given the inept record of some Bushies.

We don't declare people unlawful enemy combatants for yucks, Lee. If we just want to put someone in jail, there are a good number of Iraqi jails and courthouses a few thousand miles closer than Cuba. The folks in Guantanamo have some pretty nasty records -- you don't get information the DoD is willing to spend that type of cash for by being a choir boy -- and we've got some catch-all crimes available as well as the more specific ones.

I never suggested these guys aren't bad actors, gattsuru, in fact-- that's my point.

If their arrests and detainments weren't done properly -- if the Bush administration's eagerness to walk all over the Constitution and establish new, broader presidential powers results in these criminals walking.... my BDS of the past will pale in comparison to the outrage that will follow.

You will see impeachment proceedings against Bush and Cheney at that point, I suspect, and I will be banging that drum louder than anyone.

gattsuru:

results in these criminals walking

Generally speaking, when we're talking fascist usurption of limited powers, people walking free is, by definition, the least of our problems. Call me cynical, though.

agreed.

kevin:

"If their arrests and detainments weren't done properly -- if the Bush administration's eagerness to walk all over the Constitution and establish new, broader presidential powers results in these criminals walking.... my BDS of the past will pale in comparison to the outrage that will follow."

Are you saying that if courts decide that these guys, foreign nationals captured on the battlefield, are entitled to constitutional protections, that will be Bush's fault?

There is no reason that these criminals should walk because they should have no rights under US or federal law.

If someone can persuade the court that these enemy combatants are entitled to due process, and that the failure to so provide entitles the enemy combatant to walk, then save your ire for the person making that argument, and the idiot judge who bought the argument.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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