Tags: White | House | Disagrees | With | Gitmo | Ruling

White House Disagrees With Gitmo Ruling

Tuesday, 05 June 2007 12:00 AM

PRAGUE -- The White House on Tuesday said it disagreed with rulings by U.S. military judges to drop all war crimes charges against two Guantanamo prisoners facing trial, and that the Defense Department was considering whether to appeal.

"We don't agree with the ruling on the military commissions," White House spokesman Tony Fratto told reporters in Prague where President George W. Bush is meeting with leaders of the Czech Republic.

The judges on Monday said they lacked jurisdiction under the strict definition of those eligible for trial by military tribunal under a law enacted last year.

The Defense Department "will make a determination as to whether it's appropriate to file an appeal or not," Fratto said. "It does show that the system is taking great care to be within the letter of the law."

On Monday, the military judges at Guantanamo gave the government 72 hours to decide whether to appeal. However the court authorized to hear appeals under last year's Military Commissions Act has not yet been created, said the chief defense counsel for the tribunals, Marine Col. Dwight Sullivan.

The government may appeal but would have to assemble an appeals court quickly.

The rulings did not affect U.S. authority to indefinitely hold the 380 foreign terrorism suspects detained at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in southeast Cuba.

But it was the latest setback for the Bush administration's efforts to put the Guantanamo captives through some form of judicial process.

"In no way does this decision affect the appropriateness of the military commission system," Fratto said.

Many military lawyers have argued for years that the United States should scrap the tribunals and conduct the trials in the court-martial system, where the rules are clear and legal landmarks are long-established.

"The military judges are capable of doing good work if we go back to the system that's tried and true, the court-martial, and get on with deciding who's guilty and who's innocent rather than playing these procedural games," said Hamdan's military lawyer, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift.

He said on Monday night he was surprised the government had not noticed the flaw the judges found.

"The government should have seen that argument coming a long way away," Swift said. "That shows what happens when you throw together legislation, throwing out all the past precedents and try to get it done quick and dirty."

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PRAGUE -- The White House on Tuesday said it disagreed with rulings by U.S. military judges to drop all war crimes charges against two Guantanamo prisoners facing trial, and that the Defense Department was considering whether to appeal. "We don't agree with the ruling on...
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2007-00-05
Tuesday, 05 June 2007 12:00 AM
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