By Wyatt Earp | February 6, 2009
Remember when the military was set to seek the death penalty for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri (left) for his role in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole? Well, it appears that that threat – and the entire case – is on hold indefinitely.
With the dismissal of charges, this entire case now hangs in jeopardy.
MIAMI/WASHINGTON – The judge overseeing U.S. war crimes court at Guantanamo on Thursday dismissed the charges against a Saudi prisoner accused of plotting the bombing of the Navy warship USS Cole, the Pentagon said.
Oh yeah, 17 American sailors were murdered in that attack. In case you missed it.
The move avoided a showdown between the U.S. military and President Barack Obama. It canceled a hearing that had been set for Monday in the Guantanamo war crimes court, despite the fact Obama had ordered a freeze in proceedings there.
This is a perfect example of separation of powers (U.S. Constitution, Article I Section 8.). Until Obama had the charges dismissed, the judge was well within his rights to continue the proceedings.
Susan Crawford, the retired judge who oversees the commissions, issued a ruling dismissing without prejudice all charges against Saudi national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, said Pentagon spokesman Navy Commander J.D. Gordon.
Oh, this is just fantastic. And it shows where the priorities of the Obama administration lie.
Nashiri is accused of plotting the attack on the Cole that killed 17 U.S. sailors in the Yemeni port of Aden in 2000.
The USS Cole, days after the attack.
The dismissal of the charges eliminates the need for Monday’s hearing but al-Nashiri would remain in U.S. custody and could be recharged under the commissions system or a replacement drawn up by the Obama administration.
He could be recharged, but considering Obama’s feelings about Club Gitmo, one has to wonder if charges ever will be refiled.
The White House said Obama would meet on Friday with families who lost loved ones in the Cole bombing and the September 11 attacks in order to discuss his plans for the Guantanamo. (H/T – )
Oh, to be a fly on the wall during that meeting. I can guarantee those folks will not be pleased with the president.
This incident will undoubtedly open a Pandora’s Box of defense arguments when (and if) charges are ever refiled. There will be defense motion after defense motion arguing that al-Nashiri was the victim of double jeopardy and that the US violated al-Nashiri’s habeus corpus rights. While on the surface, these arguments would seem groundless, they may be just the loophole al-Nashiri needs for his freedom.