Today, February 25, 2015, Chief Judge Colonel James Pohl, U.S. Army, ordered a halt to the case against the 9/11 defendants at Guantanamo Bay with his finding that Department of Defense officials tried to unlawfully influence the military commissions judiciary. You can read today’s ruling here on the Gitmo Observer. Judge Pohl ordered “abatement” of the case until the rule change is rescinded by the proper authority. The prosecution has five days to appeal the new order, if it chooses to do so.
Judge Pohl ruled that the actions by the Deputy Secretary of Defense, acting upon the recommendations of the Convening Authority, constitute at least the appearance of an unlawful attempt to pressure the military judge to accelerate the pace of litigation and an improper attempt to usurp judicial discretion, thereby compromising the independence of the military judge.
The ruling arises out of the December 9, 2014 memorandum of Major General Vaughn Ary, U.S.M.C. (Ret.), the “Convening Authority” in charge of the military commissions at Guantanamo, to Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work asking him to require military commission judges to relocate to Guantanamo Bay “to accelerate the pace of litigation.” On January 7, 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued the rule change requested by the Major General Ary.
On January 30, defendants in the 9/11 case filed a motion to dismiss the case for unlawful influence over the military judiciary. Judge Pohl ruled on their motion today.