Obama-Era Military Commissions: Cramming on the Rules

Spencer’s down in Gitmo this week, supposedly watching the beginning of Omar Khadr’s hearing. Only, as he just reported, the manual laying out rules for the military commissions only got signed an hour ago by Secretary of Defense Bob Gates.

A source from the convening authority for the military commissions just informed the press corps that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has finally signed and issued a Manual for the Military Commissions Act of 2009. It’s 7:30 p.m. as I write this. Approximately 13 and a half hours from now, Col. Pat Parrish, the military judge presiding over Omar Khadr’s pre-trial hearing, will gavel the first full-fledged military commission proceeding of the Obama administration into order. The source told us that as of right now, prosecution and defense counsels are meeting with Parrish to inform him that the Manual is out.

Oh, one more thing: As of right now, a copy of the Manual isn’t at Guantanamo Bay. No one involved in tomorrow’s hearing has read it. Apparently its a very big file — inches thick if printed out — and internet speeds here are pretty slow.

In other words, Obama’s new-and-improved military commissions are going to start by asking everyone involved to cram on the rules the night before the commissions actually kick off.

20 replies
  1. skdadl says:

    I’m reading, but we’re having a constitutional crisis here at the moment (yay!), so I can’t mock Gates & co properly till tomorrow.

    At least this is just pre-trial hearing … I think that’s an “at least”? Does that mean they’ve thrown out the testimony they took for one day on 19 January last year, the day before Obama’s inauguration, when they started Khadr’s trial up the first time? Have the interesting lies of FBI agent Fuller been excluded from from the current background? That would be a shame; they are exculpatory for Khadr.

    The Speaker of the Commons declared Parliament supreme this afternoon. Four centuries later, and we didn’t even have to behead anyone to do that. Well: we haven’t yet. And there’s not much muscle behind the decision. But the next two weeks could be interesting. Then again, they could just be … Canadian.

    • Petrocelli says:

      Yep, Iggy will find some way to bend over for his BFFAE, Steve.

      BTW, skdadl, if ya see a BBQ aloft in this brisk wind, it might very well be mine … *g*

      • skdadl says:

        Hi, Petro. Do we have a mighty wind a-comin’? It hasn’t got this far along the lake yet. All quiet and warm and fragrant here, as I have never known March and April before. The cherry blossoms drift by my windows instead of snow … What a beautiful spring.

        Do you know the routine about the mighty wind from Beyond the Fringe? Aha — yes, there is a YouTube. “Will this wind … be so mighty … as to lay low … teh mountaynes … of teh earth?”

        • Petrocelli says:

          It was gusty and cool, west of Pearson this evening. And yes, Spring, with the Cherry Blossoms and Tulips all aflower sure makes me like a bit of global warming … *g*

    • emptywheel says:

      Yeah, I was hoping one of you Canucks would do a diary on your Constitutional crisis, not least since it pertains to torture.

      And as to Khadr, Carol Rosenberg has now got her story up on this and hte judges apparently want to move foward with the hearing. It is a evidentiary hearing, so it will answer all the questions you’re asking.

      • skdadl says:

        Thanks for the Rosenberg link. About the Speaker’s ruling, I just don’t know what to think yet. Steve is very good at simply defying the rules — he’s playing games with a Supreme Court decision about Khadr right now, eg. The Speaker has more or less said that Parliament will have to vote again in two weeks’ time — iow, repeat themselves — to find him in contempt if he doesn’t comply.

        As Petro says, that would require that Iggy grow a spine within the next two weeks.

      • Petrocelli says:

        Aw shoot maw, tell skdadl to write the diary … my fingers are plumb worn out, writin’ this book an’ all …

      • skdadl says:

        Hello, Mr Why. Just saw your question — sorry, I’ve been so distracted.

        Chantal Hébert made what I thought was an interesting suggestion yesterday in the TStar: turn Justice Iacobucci into an employee of the Commons rather than of the minister of justice, as he is now (and Milliken observed), and then have the committee’s legal peeps work with him on what can be released.

        The problem with that solution is that it presumes a good-faith situation — ie, that the redactions really are being done in the interests of national security. Me, I don’t believe that any more. I think there is very bad stuff there that is being hidden on purpose. I can’t imagine why Iacobucci agreed to co-operate with Harper and Nicholson in the first place.

  2. fatster says:

    O/T Let us hope this CIA “rising star” crashes quickly into a jail cell for the longest time.

    Former CIA Spy Andrew Warren Arrested in Hotel With Drug Paraphernalia, Handgun
    Ex-CIA Star Accused of Raping Drugged Muslim Women and Making Sex Tapes


  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Laying out the ground rules the night before the big kick-off? No team would willingly play under those circumstances. First order of business should be a demand for an adjournment. Who says the rulebook is available even now to read, to parse and to strategize over? Hell, no presidential candidate or Sarah Palin wannabe will answer a question unless it’s prepared and reviewed in advance, but these men’s lives are on the line under rules unseen and untried?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I guess the manual is not out and readily available in hard copy and “internet speeds” are supposedly quite slow at Gitmo. Something tells me the camp commandant’s internet access is just fine, so it must be just the internet services used by defense lawyers and journalists that are slow.

  4. powwow says:

    From Carol Rosenberg via Twitter:

    This just in: War court reveals 2007 ‘protective order’ bans disclosure agents names in Omar Khadr terror trial. http://bit.ly/cN2Mjt

    18 minutes ago via web


    Her link goes to a PDF:

    Protective Order # 002

    Protection of Identities of Intelligence Personnel

    12 October 2007

    1. This protective order is issued pursuant to the authority under the Military Commissions Act (M.C.A.) of 2006 (10 U.S.C. §§ 948a, et seq.) and the Manual for Military Commissions (M.M.C.), to include but not limited to:

    a. Rules for Military Commissions (R.M.C.) 701(f)(8) and (l)(2);
    b. R.M.C. 806;
    c. Military Commission Rules of Evidence (Mil. Comm. R. Evid.) 104(a);
    d. Mil. Comm. R. Evid. 505(e);
    e. Mil. Comm. R. Evid. 611(d)(2);
    f. Regulation for Trial by Military Commissions, Section 17-3.

    2. Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:

    a. Names or other identifying information of intelligence personnel that have been or may, from time to time, be disseminated to or obtained by the Defense Counsel for the accused, may be disclosed to members of the Defense team, such as paralegals, investigators, and administrative staff, with an official need to know. However, such information shall not be disclosed to the accused or to anyone outside of the Defense team other than the Military Commission panel subject to the limitations below;

    b. Unless disclosure has been authorized by the Military Judge, names or other identifying information of any intelligence personnel shall not be disclosed in open court or in any unsealed filing. Any mention of the name or other identifying information of intelligence personnel must occur in closed session and any filing to the Military Commission panel that includes such information shall be filed under seal.

    3. Either party may file a motion for appropriate relief to obtain an exception to this Order should they consider it warranted.

    4. Any breach of this Protective Order may result in disciplinary action or other sanctions.

    // Original Signed //
    Peter E. Brownback III
    Colonel, JA, USA
    Military Judge

  5. klynn says:

    Thanks for the post EW. Thanks for keeping us updated on Spencer’s posts as well. It is great to see the team work.

Comments are closed.