U.S. Drops Charges Against 5 Detainees, Will Refile After Election

The U.S. today moved to dismiss the cases of five Guantanamo detainees facing criminal charges: Binyam Mohamed, Noor Uthman Muhammed, Sufyiam Barhoumi, Ghassan Abdullah al Sharbi and Jabran Said Bin al Qahtani.

Clive Stafford Smith, a civilian attorney representing one of the five, Binyam Mohamed, said he has already been notified that charges against his client will be reinstated. "Far from being a victory for Mr. Mohamed in his long-running struggle for justice, this is more of the same farce that is Guantanamo," Stafford Smith said. "The military has informed us that they plan to charge him again within a month, after the election."

Army Lt. Col. Bryan Broyles, who represents another of the five detainees, said the military might be preparing the tribunals to face increased scrutiny following next month's presidential election. John McCain and Barack Obama have both said they want to close Guantanamo Bay.

The Government's less than credible explanation: [More...]

Army Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld said during a pretrial hearing for a sixth detainee this month that the war-crimes trials are unfair. Vandeveld said the military was withholding exculpatory evidence from the defense in that case, and was doing so in others. He resigned over his concerns.

But the chief Guantanamo prosecutor, Army Col. Lawrence Morris, said Tuesday's announcement was unrelated to Vandeveld's accusations. He said the charges were dismissed because evidence "is being more thoroughly analyzed." He would not elaborate on the nature of the evidence but said the review began before Vandeveld's testimony.

The ACLU says (press release should be up here shortly):

The government’s decision to drop charges against five detainees held at Guantánamo Bay underscores the complete failure of the indefinite detention system and the need to shut down the prison and the military commissions system, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. According to news reports, the charges were dropped after a prosecutor for another detainee resigned, alleging the military was suppressing evidence favorable to the defense.

“The implosion of these five prosecutions painfully underscores how the Bush administration’s torture and detention policies have failed to render justice in any sense of the word,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “Any evidence of potential wrongdoing is forever poisoned from being used in real courts when it is obtained through torture, waterboarding or rendition. Justice hasn’t been served in any conceivable way by the Bush policies of torture, rendition and detention without due process. It’s failed all the way around and we need to close Guantánamo and shut down the military commissions.”

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    what a farce (none / 0) (#1)
    by txpublicdefender on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 01:18:18 PM EST
    In the normal criminal world, prosecutors are allowed to drop charges without prejudice and refile them later when it is more convenient to file, but, in the interim, they don't get to keep the person in custody without charge.  This is ridiculous.