On Friday, the Court of Military Commission Review (CMCR) reversed the abatement in United States v. Al-Nashiri, and ordered that proceedings resume.
Latest in Military Commissions
The Periodic Review Board (PRB) appears to be broken. Since President Trump’s inauguration 21 months ago, the PRB—often described as a parole-like body established to determine whether an individual may be transferred from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay—has become a one-way ratchet, only ratifying continued detention and never recommending release. This is not to say the PRB has recommended continued detention for all the detainees whose cases it has reviewed since February 2017.
The Court of Military Commission Review (CMCR) has ruled on former Military Judge Col. Vance Spath's decision to hold proceedings in the al-Nashiri military commissions case in abatement, reversing the judge's ruling and ordering pretrial hearings in al-Nashiri to begin again.
The military commission trying alleged al-Qaeda commander Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi reconvened on Sept. 24 after a break in proceedings since April. A planned session in June was cancelled after Hadi underwent emergency spinal surgery in May, his fifth such operation since September 2017.
Last week, the military commission in United States v. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed et al. reconvened for pretrial proceedings, meeting in open session on Sept. 10, 11, and 12. The commission covered Col. Keith Parrella’s replacement of Col. James Pohl as the presiding military judge, began discovery motions, and interviewed witness Lieutenant Doug Newman.
Parrella’s Transition into the Role
Last week, the military commission in United States v. Khalid Shaikh Mohammad et al. reconvened for pretrial proceedings, meeting in open session on July 23 and 25, and in closed sessions on July 24 and 26. The commission covered a wide range of topics, including motions relating to unlawful influence by CIA director Gina Haspel, FBI influence in CIA interrogations, denial of a public trial, errors regarding classification determinations, and competing theories of "hostilities" under the law of war.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s judicial record on the Guantanamo military commissions is richer and less one-sided than some analysts, including Steve Vladeck in the Washington Post, have suggested.
Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that military commission Judge Vance Spath lacked authority to hold Chief Defense Counsel John Baker in contempt for disobeying an order last year. The full decision is below.
On Wednesday, May 23, the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review (CMCR), the intermediate military appellate court responsible for reviewing military commission proceedings, announced that it currently lacks a quorum to decide contested motions in United States v. Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, et al, commonly known as the “9/11 case.”
It’s hard to keep up with the numerous difficulties that the U.S. government has encountered in its effort to prosecute Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri—alleged, among other things, to be responsible for the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole—in a Guantanamo military commission. But the latest dispute in the case—over whether two of al-Nashiri’s (former) civilian lawyers should be allowed to intervene in an interlocutory government appeal to the Court of Military Commission Review (CMCR)—is a perfect microcosm for everything that is wrong with the commissions.