President Obama has ordered an abrupt halt in the Gitmo Show Trials. From Peter Finn at the Washington Post:
In one of its first actions, the Obama administration instructed military prosecutors late Tuesday to seek a 120-day suspension of legal proceedings involving detainees at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — a clear break with the approach of the outgoing Bush administration.
The instruction came in a motion filed late Tuesday with a military court handling the case of five defendants accused of organizing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. The motion called for "a continuance of the proceedings" until May 20 so that "the newly inaugurated president and his administration [can] review the military commissions process, generally, and the cases currently pending before military commissions, specifically."
In the legal field, this is known as an act taken "in the interests of justice". An incredibly welcome move by an administration literally only hours into its initial term. You have to hand it to President Obama, Guantanamo is a sensitive topic, especially with the neocon screechers, yet he proved the courage of his convictions and acted immediately upon being sworn in.
It appears that the action was foreshadowed at Camp Delta, as Carol Rosenberg of McClatchy already had reported, even before Obama was sworn in, that the trial of Omar Khadr had been put on hold:
A military judge on Tuesday postponed next week’s trial of Canadian captive Omar Khadr, easing pressure on the new occupant of the White House to make a swift decision on military commissions.
Until Tuesday, the Khadr case was shaping up to be an early test of Obama’s pledge to close the prison camps.
But Parrish’s indefinite delay — he set no new trial date — also derailed Pentagon plans to airlift a jury panel of U.S. military officers to this remote base this weekend.
The stay of all proceedings at Guantanamo for at least 120 days is, as stated, wonderful news; however, the better question is what it portends for the future disposition of the legal cases of the detainees including Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his co-defendants accused of organizing the 9/11 attacks.
Notably, the defense teams do not appear quite as thrilled as one might would expect by the move, citing fears that the government is simply trying to clean up the tribunal process minimally in order to continue on. Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler, who represents Read more