Lawyers want 9/11 trial dismissed

Lawyers want 9/11 trial dismissed

By ANDREW O. SELSKY – 5.29.2008

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Defense lawyers accused the government of rushing the Sept. 11 defendants to trial at Guantanamo to influence the U.S. presidential elections, and asked the military judge to dismiss the case in a court filing obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

The filing also shows that the former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo, who resigned in October over alleged political interference, was sanctioned by the military on May 23 after testifying for the defense in a Guantanamo hearing.

The former prosecutor, Air Force Col. Morris Davis, wrote that the action will discourage any other military members from providing information about the controversial war-crimes tribunals. The tribunals' legal adviser, Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, told the AP Davis was sanctioned because of poor job performance and not because he testified.

Military lawyers for alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-defendants revealed that prosecutors are seeking a Sept. 15 trial date — weeks before the Nov. 4 election.

The five men accused of mounting the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed almost 3,000 people are to be arraigned June 5 at the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — the most high-profile of the military commissions, as the war-crimes proceedings are called.

"It is safe to say that there are senior officials in the military commission process who believe that there would be strategic political value to having these five men sitting in a death chamber on Nov. 4, 2008," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brian Mizer, a defense attorney.

Davis recently testified that while he was chief prosecutor, "There was that consistent theme that if we don't get these (trials) rolling before the election, this thing is going to implode, and if you get the 9/11 guys charged it would be hard ... for whoever wins the White House to stop the process."

Sen. John McCain, the presumed Republican nominee for president, supported the Military Commissions Act that in 2006 resurrected the war-crimes tribunals after the Supreme Court earlier declared the previous system unconstitutional.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama, who are battling for the Democratic nomination, opposed the measure.

Hartmann denied political interference affected decisions on whom to try and when to try them.

"It has not existed at all," Hartmann told the AP on Wednesday. "I say that absolutely, without equivocation."

But at an April 28 hearing for Osama bin Laden's former driver and bodyguard, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, Davis testified that Hartmann pushed to pursue "sexy" cases over less dramatic ones. The military judge subsequently ordered Hartmann's removal as legal adviser in that proceeding.

Documents attached to the new filing showed the military acted against Davis less than a month after his testimony, saying he had served dishonorably and would be denied a medal for his more than two years as prosecutor.

Hartmann, who had clashed with Davis when he was chief prosecutor, said he didn't get the decoration because "his performance was not up to standard." Hartmann worked with Davis from July to October 2007.

"He had a very important position as chief prosecutor, and had an obligation to lead people, to inspire them and to train them," Hartmann said by telephone. "And that wasn't happening."

In response, Davis e-mailed AP a performance report from Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Hemingway, Hartmann's predecessor, that said Davis' "personable leadership style infused enthusiasm and focus despite political uncertainty, delays, countless issues" in the Bush administration's attempts to bring suspected terrorists to trial. The review, covering September 2006-April 2007, said Davis was the "perfect choice" to "bring masterminds of 9/11, USS Cole, & embassy bombings to justice."

"I have got no regrets about the way I ran things," Davis told AP. "I will put my leadership up against (Hartmann's) any day."

In their filing Wednesday to Marine Col. Ralph Kohlmann, the judge presiding over the Sept. 11 trial, the lawyers asked for Hartmann to be removed as legal adviser to war-crimes trials. Sixteen of the 260 men being held under indefinite detention at Guantanamo face trial after having been charged.

Guantanamo torture victims face bogus trials in kangaroo courts

on a political timetable! Disgusting!

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