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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Top Pentagon legal adviser disqualified from Guantanamo trial: NYT
Bernard Hibbitts at 8:28 PM ET

[JURIST] A US military judge has ruled that US Air Force Reserve Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann [Air Force Link profile], a top Pentagon legal adviser on the Guantanamo military commission trials, is ineligible to participate in the first military commission trial of a detainee because he is too closely associated with the prosecution, the New York Times reported Saturday. The Times said it had a copy of the decision by Navy Capt. Keith Allred, although it had not been publicly released. The paper quoted Allred as concluding that "National attention focused on this dispute has seriously called into question the legal adviser’s ability to continue to perform his duties in a neutral and objective manner". Hartmann is legal adviser to Susan J. Crawford, the Convening Authority [backgrounder] for the military commissions. The New York Times has more.

Earlier this year former Guantanamo prosecutor Air Force Col. Morris D. Davis [official profile, PDF] made headlines when he said in the wake of his resignation that Hartmann had questioned the need for open trials [JURIST report] at Guantanamo and was upset with the slow pace of the proceedings begun by Davis. In a subsequent Los Angeles Times op-ed [text], Hartman said that the slow progress that frustrated Davis was an unavoidable part of a careful judicial process and rejected Davis' allegations that aspects of the military commissions were being intentionally hidden from the public. Last month, Davis testified at a pre-trial hearing for Guantanamo detainee Salim Hamdan that Hartmann had pressured him [JURIST report] to move forward with military commissions quickly "before the election" or else "this thing's going to implode."

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