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No quick ruling on military trials

Update Tuesday a.m.   The military judge heading the commission that has been scheduled to try the five individuals for war crimes related to the 9/11 attacks agreed on Monday to delay all proceedings in the case until Nov. 16, giving the Obama Administration time to decide on a trial in military or civilian court.   The judge’s order is here (courtesy of the Miami Herald).


The D.C. Circuit Court on Monday put off, for the time being, any ruling on a plea by Guantanamo Bay detainees to block any trial before a U.S. military commission on war crimes charges growing out of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.  In a brief order, the Circuit panel ordered lawyers to keep it posted on what was happening with a military commission proceeding at Guantanamo, where the Obama Administration is seeking to put on hold all actions of that tribunal.  The Administration wants the delay while it ponders whether to try those five in civilian court, or before a commission at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo.

Two of those five — Ramzi Bin al-Shibh and Mustafa Ahmed Al Hawsawi — have filed sweeping constitutional challenges to the entire military commission system, arguing that any trial would violate their basic constitutional rights.  Monday’s order by the Circuit Court came in Bin al-Shibh’s case (Circuit docket 09-1238); Al Hawsawi’s case (Circuit docket 09-1244) was recently filed, but the filings in it have not yet been released publicly by court security officers.  In another development on Monday, Bin al-Shibh’s reply brief, filed last Friday, was released.  It is a response to the government’s argument that the Circuit Court has no authority to hear any challenge to a military commission until after there is a final conviction of a war crime.