Saturday, April 30, 2016

GITMO Judge Defers Lifting Order Accommodating Muslim Detainees After Remarks By Top Brass

As previously reported, early last year a military judge at Guantanamo Bay issued an interim order requiring authorities to stop using female guards to move 5 defendants held in a top-secret Guantanamo unit back and forth to meetings with their lawyers. Defendants had been refusing to meet with counsel because physical contact with the female guards violates their Muslim religious beliefs.  AP now reports that this past Thursday the military judge, Army Col. James Poh, issued a 39-page ruling (not yet publicly released) saying that he will eventually lift the order.  However he postponed doing so for six months to show his displeasure at criticism of the original order leveled by Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford during testimony before Congress in October. They called the judge's order outrageous.  Poh says that this kind of statement could be seen as an improper attempt to influence the Military Commission.  In his ruling, he said in part:
These comments were entirely inappropriate. They crossed the line. Senior military leaders should know better than to make these kinds of comments in a public forum during an ongoing trial.
He added that he did not take this step lightly, and might lift the order sooner if senior military officials took "appropriate action."

UPDATE: Here is the full text of the Military Commissions' ruling in United States v. Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, (MCTJ, April 28, 2016).