Officer Rejected, by a Justice Department Prosecutor, for Gitmo Panel Because He Agrees With Obama

Does this demonstrate prosecutorial independence or insubordinate behavior?

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  • August 12, 2010, 8:39 PM ET

Officer Rejected for Gitmo Panel Because He Agrees With Obama

Officer Rejected for Gitmo Panel Because He Agrees With Obama
<By Jess Bravin>
Guantanamo Bay continues to produce interesting twists in U.S. policy. The latest came this week when prosecutors disqualified a potential military commission member because he agreed with the Obama administration’s view of the offshore military base.
President Barack Obama pledged as one of his first acts in office to close the Guantanamo prison within a year. More than a year and a half later, it remains open, amid Republican-led opposition to closing the prison, and trials of terrorist suspects are moving ahead under the Obama administration.
This week, a jury-like panel was assembled to hear the case of Omar Khadr, a Toronto-born detainee who was captured in Afghanistan at age 15 and accused of throwing a grenade that killed an American soldier.
During examination, an Army lieutenant colonel who was being considered for the panel said he agreed with Obama’s view that the offshore prison has compromised American values and diminished America’s international standing.
“America seemed to lose its status as a beacon of freedom, liberty and justice” through its interrogation methods, secret prisons and extraordinary renditions, said the lieutenant colonel, who couldn’t be named under courtroom rules. “I don’t believe my position is any different from the president’s.”
The military judge, Col. Pat Parrish, refused to dismiss the officer, so prosecutor Jeff Groharing, a Justice Department attorney who started as the Khadr prosecutor in 2005 when he was a Marine major, used his single peremptory challenge to remove him from the commission.
“He said repeatedly he agrees with the president,” Groharing said.
Defenders of Guantanamo say detainees are treated fairly and the U.S. doesn’t need to scrap a facility it has spent millions to build. They also say U.S. communities could be at risk if terrorism suspects are moved to the U.S.
Groharing also sought to disqualify a Navy captain who said he believed detainees had been mistreated at Guantanamo in its early years, but the military judge declined to do so.
The Khadr case has been a continuing frustration for the U.S. government, which initiated proceedings in 2005 only to encounter repeated legal and administrative obstacles.
Obama administration officials said earlier this year they were seeking to arrange a plea bargain that would repatriate the defendant to serve a sentence, but the Khadr family is widely unpopular in Canada and Ottawa has proven unwilling to help Washington resolve the case.
Canadian courts, however, have been critical of their government’s actions in the case, repeatedly finding that Ottawa had failed to protect Mr. Khadr’s rights.

Guantanamo Bay continues to produce interesting twists in U.S. policy. The latest came this week when prosecutors disqualified a potential military commission member because he agreed with the Obama administration’s view of the offshore military base.

President Barack Obama pledged as one of his first acts in office to close the Guantanamo prison within a year. More than a year and a half later, it remains open, amid Republican-led opposition to closing the prison, and trials of terrorist suspects are moving ahead under the Obama administration.

This week, a jury-like panel was assembled to hear the case of Omar Khadr, a Toronto-born detainee who was captured in Afghanistan at age 15 and accused of throwing a grenade that killed an American soldier.

During examination, an Army lieutenant colonel who was being considered for the panel said he agreed with Obama’s view that the offshore prison has compromised American values and diminished America’s international standing.

“America seemed to lose its status as a beacon of freedom, liberty and justice” through its interrogation methods, secret prisons and extraordinary renditions, said the lieutenant colonel, who couldn’t be named under courtroom rules. “I don’t believe my position is any different from the president’s.”

The military judge, Col. Pat Parrish, refused to dismiss the officer, so prosecutor Jeff Groharing, a Justice Department attorney who started as the Khadr prosecutor in 2005 when he was a Marine major, used his single peremptory challenge to remove him from the commission.

“He said repeatedly he agrees with the president,” Groharing said.

Defenders of Guantanamo say detainees are treated fairly and the U.S. doesn’t need to scrap a facility it has spent millions to build. They also say U.S. communities could be at risk if terrorism suspects are moved to the U.S.

Groharing also sought to disqualify a Navy captain who said he believed detainees had been mistreated at Guantanamo in its early years, but the military judge declined to do so.

The Khadr case has been a continuing frustration for the U.S. government, which initiated proceedings in 2005 only to encounter repeated legal and administrative obstacles.

Obama administration officials said earlier this year they were seeking to arrange a plea bargain that would repatriate the defendant to serve a sentence, but the Khadr family is widely unpopular in Canada and Ottawa has proven unwilling to help Washington resolve the case.

Canadian courts, however, have been critical of their government’s actions in the case, repeatedly finding that Ottawa had failed to protect Mr. Khadr’s rights.

Read related article: Gitmo Trial Revisits Days Following Capture

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Officer Rejected for Gitmo Panel Because He Agrees With ObamaGuantanamo Bay continues to produce interesting twists in U.S. policy. The latest came this week when prosecutors disqualified a potential military commission member because he agreed with the Obama administration’s view of the offshore military base.President Barack Obama pledged as one of his first acts in office to close the Guantanamo prison within a year. More than a year and a half later, it remains open, amid Republican-led opposition to closing the prison, and trials of terrorist suspects are moving ahead under the Obama administration.This week, a jury-like panel was assembled to hear the case of Omar Khadr, a Toronto-born detainee who was captured in Afghanistan at age 15 and accused of throwing a grenade that killed an American soldier.During examination, an Army lieutenant colonel who was being considered for the panel said he agreed with Obama’s view that the offshore prison has compromised American values and diminished America’s international standing.“America seemed to lose its status as a beacon of freedom, liberty and justice” through its interrogation methods, secret prisons and extraordinary renditions, said the lieutenant colonel, who couldn’t be named under courtroom rules. “I don’t believe my position is any different from the president’s.”The military judge, Col. Pat Parrish, refused to dismiss the officer, so prosecutor Jeff Groharing, a Justice Department attorney who started as the Khadr prosecutor in 2005 when he was a Marine major, used his single peremptory challenge to remove him from the commission.“He said repeatedly he agrees with the president,” Groharing said.Defenders of Guantanamo say detainees are treated fairly and the U.S. doesn’t need to scrap a facility it has spent millions to build. They also say U.S. communities could be at risk if terrorism suspects are moved to the U.S.Groharing also sought to disqualify a Navy captain who said he believed detainees had been mistreated at Guantanamo in its early years, but the military judge declined to do so.The Khadr case has been a continuing frustration for the U.S. government, which initiated proceedings in 2005 only to encounter repeated legal and administrative obstacles.Obama administration officials said earlier this year they were seeking to arrange a plea bargain that would repatriate the defendant to serve a sentence, but the Khadr family is widely unpopular in Canada and Ottawa has proven unwilling to help Washington resolve the case.Canadian courts, however, have been critical of their government’s actions in the case, repeatedly finding that Ottawa had failed to protect Mr. Khadr’s rights.

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