Obama Blinks, Pulls Plug on Terror Trial

President Obama Likely to Order Military Commission Charges Dropped Against Terrorist Suspect Al-Nashiri Friday

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.

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/just as predicted


Guantanamo judge who defied Obama issues new ruling

An Army judge who is defying a White House request to freeze the Pentagon’s war court ruled Thursday that he has the authority to decide whether the military’s security measures at Guantanamo impair a captive’s ability to defend himself.

Army Col. James Pohl said he would rule Monday on a defense motion asking that accused al Qaeda plotter Abd el Rahim Nashiri not have his eyes and ears covered when he’s brought to court. Nashiri is scheduled to be arraigned for Monday on charges that he conspired in the October 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors.

The prospect of the hearing is setting up a tug-of-war over whether the Pentagon will honor President Barack Obama’s Jan. 22 Executive Order instructing Gates to stop the military commissions for 120 days. Pohl last week refused a prosecution motion for the delay, saying “the public interest in a speedy trial will be harmed by the delay.”

. . .

Meanwhile, defense attorneys had asked Pohl to intervene in the circumstances by which Nashiri would be taken from his Guantanamo prison camp to the war court. The two are several miles apart at the U.S. Navy base.

The CIA has confirmed that it waterboarded Nashiri, a Saudi Arabian, to extract information during several years of secret custody before his transfer to Guantanamo in September 2006. Attorney General Eric Holder has said he considers waterboarding to be torture.

So Nashiri’s defense attorneys asked the judge for a cease-and-desist order in “the practice of covering the eyes and ears of the accused whenever [he] is transported from his cell.”

Defense lawyers argued in a motion filed Jan. 9 that the treatment causes psychological harm as “a re-infliction of . . . tortuous treatment.”

Prosecutors countered that the judge had no authority to interfere in the prison camps’ treatment of the accused.

Pohl said in his two-page ruling dated Thursday that the judge “does have the authority to address detainee security issues if they impact on the accused’s ability to prepare his defense.”

The judge added that, once Nashiri was brought to the war court Monday, for his first-ever hearing, Pohl would consider delaying it if the defense “believes the transportation of the accused has impaired his ability to participate in the proceedings.”

/so, is Pohl going to delay the trial after all?


Charges dropped vs. suspect in 2000 USS Cole blast

The Pentagon says the senior military judge overseeing terror trials at Guantanamo Bay has dropped charges against a suspect in the 2000 USS Cole bombing.

The military charges against suspected al-Qaida bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri marked the last active war crimes case at Guantanamo Bay.

The legal move by Susan J. Crawford, the top legal authority for military trials at Guantanamo, brings all cases into compliance with President Barack Obama’s executive order to halt all terrorist court proceedings at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba.

/well, I guess the matter’s out of Judge Pohl’s hands now