In one of his first acts as president, Barack Obama issued an executive order instructing prosecutors in military commissions to seek delays in the proceedings, in order to allow his administration to review the comissions process as a whole.
All but one judge complied with the prosecutors’ requests. That one, Army Colonel Jame Pohl, declined to do so.
But now, the Associated Press reports, Susan Crawford, the top legal authority for Guantanamo’s proceedings, has decided to drop the charges in the case over which Pohl is presiding, thereby bringing the case into compliance with Obama’s order.
The case being prosecuted is that of Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi citizen of Yemeni descent accused of planning the October 2000 Al Qaeda attack on the USS Cole warship, which killed 17 service members.
The Pentagon says that Nashiri will remain in prison, and new charges can be filed. But
prosecutors will have to start from square one.
A group representing family members of victims of terrorist attacks has been vocally opposed to Obama’s order, and isn’t happy about Crawford’s move.
According to the AP:
Retired Navy Cmdr. Kirk S. Lippold, the commanding officer of the Cole when it was bombed in Yemen in October 2000, said he will be among family members of Cole and 9/11 victims who are meeting with Obama at the White House on Friday afternoon.
Groups representing victims’ families were angered by Obama’s order, charging they had waited too long already to see the alleged attackers brought to court.
“I was certainly disappointed with the decision to delay the military commissions process,” Lippold, now a defense adviser to Military Families United, said in an interview Thursday night. “We have already waited eight years. Justice delayed is justice denied. We must allow the military commission process to go forward.”