“I am concerned about the President considering dropping the charges because it may be indicative that the president does not intend to follow the military commissions process which has undergone extensive legal and legislative review.” Yes. It is good that al-Nashiri will remain in custody, but if he ends up being prosecuted in a civilian court, the effect on the military could be catastrophic — military personnel will be afraid to act without gathering evidence that could convince a civilian jury that their actions were justified.
ABC News has learned that on Friday, President Obama will likely order the Department of Defense’s Military Commission to withdraw charges against terrorist suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. The charges may later be reinstated in a military commission or pursued in a civilian court. Al-Nashiri will remain in custody.
The announcement will not be made until after President Obama meets with the families of victims of terrorist attacks on 9/11 and on the U.S.S. Cole, where he will assure them that this step is not being done to be lenient towards al-Nashiri. The move is being done to stop the continued prosecution of al-Nashiri in a court system that his administration may ultimately find illegitimate, not for any other reason, sources told ABC News.
President Obama has expressed concern about whether the military commissions set up by the Bush administration are the proper way to go forward in pursuing charges against the U.S. detainees, and on January 22 he asked all the judges supervising the trials of detainees for a continuance of 120 days, so a team of administration officials could review the best way forward.
In almost the cases, that continuance request was granted. But last week the judge supervising the al-Nashiri trial — Army Col. James L. Pohl, the chief judge at the Guantanamo Bay war crimes court — said he would not heed President Obama’s request for a 120-day continuance, or delay, in prosecutions of terrorism suspects. Pohl called the president’s request “not reasonable” and not “in the interests of justice.”
The arraignment of al-Nashiri is scheduled for Monday, February 9.
Al-Nashiri has been identified as the former Persian Gulf Operations Chief for al Qaeda and the mastermind of the attack on the U.S.S. Cole. In March 2007 he testified in military court that he only confessed to certain crimes because he has been tortured for the previous five years.
Asked for reaction to the news, Commander Kirk Lippold (Ret.), former Commander aboard the U.S.S. Cole when it was bombed on October 12, 2000, told ABC News that “I am concerned about the President considering dropping the charges because it may be indicative that the president does not intend to follow the military commissions process which has undergone extensive legal and legislative review.”
“For some reason the administration says what’s been expressed through the legislature is not sufficient,” Lippold said of the military commissions. “They need to allow the process to go forward.”…