Guantánamo Judge Proceeds With Military Commissions In Defiance Of Obama Order

March 10, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

NEW YORK – In defiance of President Obama's order halting the Guantánamo military commissions, a military judge accepted a legal pleading filed by the five 9/11 suspects. Judge Col. Stephen R. Henley ordered the immediate public release of the filed document despite the fact that all other legal filings have been kept sealed for months by the military commissions. Remarkably, the judge accepted the pleading from all five 9/11 defendants despite the fact that the competency of two of them has not been determined and their attorneys were not informed.

The American Civil Liberties Union has sponsored civilian counsel for some of the detainees through its John Adams Project, a partnership with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to assist under-resourced military counsel at Guantánamo.

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU:

"Judge Henley apparently doesn't know what the word 'halt' means since he has blatantly defied President Obama's executive order for an end to the military commissions. Why Judge Henley accepted pleadings and issued an order in halted proceedings is confounding. The judge's actions extending the military commissions call into question the true intentions of the Pentagon leadership at a time when the Obama administration is searching for a solution to the disastrous detention policies of the Bush administration. If Defense Secretary Gates allowed the military commissions to proceed, that's a serious problem; if he didn't know about this, that's equally troubling.

"Moreover, to selectively release a filing that clearly serves the objectives of the prosecution when defense motions have regularly been suppressed raises the suspicion that political motivations are at play.

"The only way to put an end to these sham proceedings, once and for all, is for Secretary Gates to withdraw the charges in all pending commission cases so we can truly begin the journey on the road to real justice."

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