- Thailand crisis deepens as opposition quits Parliament
- Campbell Soup apologizes for SpaghettiOs’ Pearl Harbor tweet
- Former Reagan aide James Baker: President regretted apartheid veto
- Some donations to gay waitress who allegedly forged hate note refunded
- German President Joachim Gauck boycotting Sochi Olympics
- Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel: If you want to pay more for your doctor, you can under Obamacare
- Sen. Rand Paul: ‘I am seriously thinking about’ running for president in 2016
- Sleet, ice, deepfreeze hit large swath of U.S.
- ‘Welcome to the edge of freedom’: Biden’s boots touch down in DMZ
- Obama: Hole U.S. ‘digging out of’ requires billions more in unemployment benefits
Legal tussle unfolds in case against Cole suspect
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — The al Qaeda operative accused of masterminding the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole appeared relaxed as he was escorted into a courtroom with his defense team for a motions hearing Tuesday.
Abd al-Rahim Hussayn Muhammad al-Nashiri, 47, smiled and chatted with his lawyers before the hearing began. He looked toward the back of the courtroom, expressionless, where a dozen family members of the victims sat behind a glass window.
Al-Nashiri, a Saudi of Yemeni descent, is charged with nine counts related to orchestrating the Cole bombing, which killed 17 U.S. sailors, and an attempted attack on the USS The Sullivans in January 2000.
He faces the death penalty, the first capital punishment case to go before the military commission since it was reformed in 2009.
His defense team, led by civilian attorney Richard Kammen, began to argue the first of the nearly 100 pretrial motions being discussed before the military commission with Army Col. James Pohl presiding. Col. Pohl denied a defense motion that he recuse himself from the case.
The defense had argued that Col. Pohl should recuse himself because he had presided over the majority of the criminal cases from Abu Ghraib, the detention center in Iraq where U.S. soldiers abused detainees. Mr. Kammen said Col. Pohl had protected the senior military and civilian government leaders in charge of the detainees and should recuse himself to avoid any perception of partiality toward the government.
The defense also argued for recusal based on a monetary conflict of interest, noting that Col. Pohl, as a military judge who is paid by the Defense Department, would be subject to a 25 percent reduction in pay if he were to recuse himself from the al-Nashiri case.
Lastly, the defense argued that since Col. Pohl appointed himself as chief judge over all high-value detainees — including the cases of the 9/11 plotters — his rulings in the al-Nashiri case will taint his judgment in those cases.
“If there is only one judge on all these cases, it is a process only seen through one prism,” Mr. Kammen said. “You are the judge of first impression.”
Prosecutors argued that the defense’s accusations were based on innuendo, hypothetical situations and conjecture.
“Perception … is not the legal standard,” said Navy Cmdr. Andrea Lockhart, a member of the prosecution team led by Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, chief prosecutor for military commissions.
The defense team and human rights groups have argued that the military commissions’ convening authority is aligned with the prosecution and that the commissions lack experience in trying death penalty cases.
“All of this is a facade organized to do two things — to convict these people and kill them, and to do it in secret,” Mr. Kammen said Tuesday.
Alex Abdo of the American Civil Liberties Union was at the hearing, and said that much of what was discussed were “perfunctory matters” that arise in prosecuting a capital case under a new system that wouldn’t necessarily arise in a federal civilian court where there is plenty of historical precedent to guide decisions.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Kristina Wong is a national security reporter for The Washington Times, covering defense, foreign policy and intelligence affairs. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Air Force building drone for operations in 'hostile' airspace: Report
- Pentagon plans to destroy Syrian chemical arms on ship at sea
- Joint Chiefs chair Dempsey: Pentagon, VA too slow in merging medical systems
- Pentagon may give recruits 'a shot to start over' after shameful social media posts
- Kill team: Obama war chiefs widen drone death zones
- Obama: Hole U.S. 'digging out of' requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- Sen. Rand Paul: Supreme Court needs to re-examine Fourth Amendment
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality
- Dick Cheney: Family feud over gay marriage has been 'dealt with'
- Obamas call to close Vatican embassy is 'slap in the face' to Roman Catholics
- 'Dude, I'm dreading that I will have to go': Czech prime minister on Mandela funeral
- Sen. Rand Paul: Long-term unemployment benefits are disservice to workers
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Get in the middle of all the action inside and outside the boxing ring.
Opinion, analysis, and musings on politics, pop culture, reinvention, and the resultant flotsam and jetsam floating around the right-of-center quadrant of the Left Coast.
The cold hard truth about politics in America today and the state of this once great nation.
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
Let it snow
White House pets gone wild!