Sunday, 18 May 2008

UPDATE: Hamdan trial delayed

UPDATE: Hamdan trial delayed

Update 7:15 a.m. Saturday

On Friday afternoon, the military judge heading the commission scheduled to try Salim Ahmed Hamdan postponed the date for starting that trial until July 21. This almost certainly will mean that, by then, the Supreme Court will have clarified the legal rights of Guantanamo detainees. Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald discusses the postponement and other new developments in the case in this story, published Saturday morning. Links to the judge’s order and to a separate order regarding a mental examination can be found at this Pentagon site.

Rosenberg’s story also reports that five Guantanamo detainees charged with roles in the terrorist attacks of 9/11 have sought dismissal of their military commission cases, arguing that Pentagon “command influence” tainted their cases. Beside Rosenberg’s story is a link to this motion to dismiss; it is a large document.

Below is a post on earlier developments in Washington.


The D.C. Circuit Court refused on Thursday to block the scheduled beginning of the war crimes trial of Salim Ahmed Hamdan at Guantanamo Bay on June 2, but allowed his lawyers to renew the plea after the Supreme Court rules this month or next on the legal rights of detainees.

Lawyers for the Yemeni national had asked the Circuit Court to block his trial before a military commission until after the Supreme Court rules in the pending cases of Boumediene v. Bush (06-1195) and Al Odah v. U.S. (06-1196), arguing that the Justices’ ruling will affect directly his claim that it would be unconstitutional for a commission to try him.

In a brief order (found here), a three-judge panel of the Circuit Court said that Hamdan’s counsel had not met the requirements under the All Writs Act for “a stay pending Boumediene.” The order specified, though, that the motion was being denied “without prejudice to renewal upon the Supreme Court’s disposition in Boumediene v. Bush.”

The Justices heard arguments in Boumediene/Al Odah on Dec. 5; no date has been set for a ruling, but the Justices are expected to issue a decision before recessing for the summer, probably late in June.

Meanwhile, the second-in-command of the Pentagon’s war crimes regime — Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann — told the Associated Press Thursday that he would not resign his position even though the military judge in Hamdan’s case had barred him from any role in that case and intimated that Hartman should resign. Hartman said, however, that he might step aside later if his actions caused other war crimes cases to bog down, the AP said in its story. Hartmann oversees both prosecution and defense in the war crimes system in his role as legal advisor to the commander of that system. The judge in Hamdan’s case sharply criticized Hartmann for interfering in the prosecution of that case.

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