The trial at Gitmo for the USS Cole mastermind has taken an odd turn

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The trial at Gitmo for the USS Cole mastermind has taken an odd turn


Original story from the Miami Herald:

The USS Cole case judge Wednesday found the Marine general in charge of war court defense teams guilty of contempt for refusing to follow the judge’s orders and sentenced him to 21 days confinement and to pay a $1,000 fine.

Air Force Col. Vance Spath also declared “null and void” a decision by Marine Brig. Gen. John Baker, 50, to release three civilian defense attorneys from the capital terror case. The lawyers resigned last month over a covert breach of attorney-client privilege involving something so secretive at the terror prison that the public cannot know.

Wednesday evening, with Baker confined to his quarters in a trailer park behind the courthouse, Judge Spath issued another order: Directing the three lawyers — Rick Kammen, Rosa Eliades and Mary Spears — to litigate Friday in the death-penalty case against Abd al Rahim al Nashiri remotely from the Washington D.C., area by video feed to Guantánamo.

Baker is the chief defense counsel for military commissions, and the second highest-ranking lawyer in the Marine Corps. He had excused Kammen, Eliades and Spears from the case on ethical grounds, and refused to rescind the order —prompting the judge to find him in contempt of court. Baker also invoked a privilege stemming from his oversight role and refused Spath’s order to swear an oath and testify in his court.

The Marine Corps Times has more:

The three attorneys, Rick Kammen, Rosa Eliades and Mary Spears, quit the case last month. Kammen had represented the defendant, Saudi Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, since 2008.

The trio withdrew because they believed the government was listening in on their legal meetings. Some information discussed in the meetings was classified so they could not explain it to Nashiri or the public.

In a statement released following their decision, Kammen said, “We are angry about being placed in an ethically untenable position, disappointed in not being able to see the case through, and devastated to leave Mr. Nashiri, whom we genuinely like and who deserves a real chance for justice.”

In June, Baker told the attorneys he had “lost confidence” in the integrity of “all potential attorney-client meeting locations” at Guantanamo.

General Baker had talked earlier about difficulties in a video that was posted at the Miami Herald:


Baker has been harsh about the entire military commission set up:

“Put simply, the military commissions in their current state are a farce,” Baker said in a talk last year in a national security program. “Instead of being a beacon for the rule of law, the Guantánamo Bay military commissions have been characterized by delay, government misconduct and incompetence, and even more delay.”

This is going to be more delay from this, and it’s never good when a Marine Corps General is placed under house arrest, especially when he apparently believes that what he is doing is the honorable thing for a defense attorney.  Either way, it’s super hard to know what is going on specifically, because most of the documents are top secret.

I don’t see this case actually going to trial any time soon, and this certainly doesn’t help the situation.

Not really related to the subject except tangentially, one sort of side note that I found interesting is another defense counsel discussing the issue, and I’ve met the gentleman, and he really was a great guy to spend time with and (while I don’t really wish him well in this case) he really was one of the more personable people I’ve ever met.

So if you watched the video, he talked about maintaining the overseas detention sites that were used.  A similar order was issued for the camp where detainees were initially held at Gitmo.  I had the opportunity to tour it once, and it was fascinating.  Basically it was just a series of concrete slabs with a corrugated roof, and chain link fence for walls.  But because of the order it be maintained, they can’t do anything with the area.  Being that it is in Cuba, basically vegetation is taking over the whole area, so the cages appeared to be made of ivy.  It was fascinating in the same way that the TV show “Life After People” always interested me. 

Apparently in Cuba anyway, the environment will take back its area in a pretty short span.  

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It is accepted fact that the Gitmo military justice program is an abject failure. The 9-11 mastermind has not been tried. There has been no justice administered to criminals and the who thing is a joke to allies and enemies alike.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.