Military Judges Dismiss Charges for 2 Detainees
Will wonders never cease? Some of my faith is restored.GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba, June 4 — The government’s new system for trying Guantánamo detainees was thrown into turmoil Monday, when military judges in separate decisions dismissed war crimes charges against two of the detainees.
The rulings, the latest legal setbacks for the government’s effort to bring war crimes charges against detainees, could stall the military’s prosecutions here.
The decisions did not turn on the guilt or innocence of the detainees, but rather made essentially the same determination that the military had not followed procedures to declare the detainees “unlawful enemy combatants,” which is required for the military commission to hear the cases.
Pentagon officials described the rulings as raising technical and semantic issues, and said that they were considering appeals. If appeals failed, they said, they could go through the process of redesignating the detainees.
But military lawyers said the rulings exposed a flaw that would affect every other potential war-crimes case here. And the rulings brought immediate calls, including from some on Capitol Hill, for Congress to re-examine the system it set up last year for military commission trials and, perhaps, to consider other changes in the legal treatment of Guantánamo detainees.
In an interview, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said after the first of the two rulings Monday that the decision raised significant issues and could prompt Congress to re-evaluate the legal rights of detainees, including Congress’s decision last year to revoke the rights of detainees to file habeas corpus suits to challenge their detentions.
“The sense I have is that there’s an unease, an uncomfortable sense about the whole Guantánamo milieu,” Mr. Specter said, adding, “There’s just a sense of too many shortcuts in the whole process.”