Them’s Fightin’ Words

It seems there might be a war on. Not in Iraq but between top military commissions officials over prosecutorial — and management — practices surrounding the Guantanamo Bay (GITMO) detainees. They might fight to the death — or at least resignation — on this one.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the lead prosecutor dished about the dispute. Colonel Do the Right Thing alleges that a certain general officer who is the legal adviser to the convening authority for commissions “has overstepped his mandate by interfering directly in cases” and that his actions run counter to the 2006 Military Commissions Act. (Gasp!) That there already has been one investigation into this matter that has not deterred him from this latest complaint. Oh, and investigators backed General Do the Right Thing Too following Round One. The colonel has publicly recommended that they (both he and the general) resign from commissions for the good of the process. (Or maybe because the colonel’s time in his current position might be limited? Just a guess.)

In what really seems to be a difference in philosophy, Colonel Do the Right Thing thinks commissions should first focus on the less-than-extraordinary detainees: Charges are “undramatic,” information is not classified, and trials could be public. General Do the Right Thing Too thinks commissions should focus on the detainees who have actual ties to terrorist activities. To that end, the general is willing to deal the “undramatic” to move to more important cases.

Both men make valid points — but six years into the process? These matters should have been resolved early says a source close to the matter.

One probable victim in this fire fight is any plea bargain for “undramatic” detainees. One source notes all sides had agreed to not discuss the subject publicly. Regardless, the lead prosecutor has stated he will not file additional charges against GITMO detainees until matters are resolved.

The coefficient of friction is pretty high on these wheels of justice, and they are grinding to a halt.

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