By Tyler Pager
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba – The Pentagon rescinded its order Friday that forced military judges to relocate to Guantanamo Bay.
The order, known as Change 1, was an effort to speed up the military commissions, but instead delayed proceedings in both the USS Cole bombing and 9/11 trials.
The judge presiding over the 9/11 trial –Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four co-conspirators are accused of planning the 9/11 attacks — ruled to delay the trial until the order was taken back.
The rescinding of the order came as the defense lawyers for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind behind the bombing of the USS Cole, were arguing Change 1 was unlawful influence. They said the case should be dismissed.
The Judge Advocate Generals of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force were scheduled to testify on the motion Friday, but the judge, Air Force Col. Vance Spath, ruled their testimony was no longer needed.
In closing arguments, the prosecution argued Change 1 was enacted to address resource constraints and expedite the trial. However, Spath pushed the prosecution to explain how the relocation order would speed up the trials if only the judges were moving to Guantanamo.
“What sensible purpose was moving three trial judges down here with no support staff to affect the pace of legislation?” Spath asked.
Spath repeatedly spoke of his concerns that the order, which was recommended by retired Maj. Gen. Vaughn Ary, had the appearance of unlawful influence. Ary, known as the convening authority, is the civilian responsible for ordering military commissions.
Despite the rescinding of the order, the defense maintained unlawful influence was still present in the trial and needed to be dismissed.
Spath said he hopes to have a ruling on the motion by Monday. The court will convene at 10:30 a.m.