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Gitmo gall: Charges dropped against Cole bombing jihadist

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By Michelle Malkin  •  February 5, 2009 10:23 PM

While President Doom wallows in the politics of fear to salvage the failing stimulus behemoth, a national security mess looms.

This in tonight:

The Pentagon’s senior judge overseeing terror trials at Guantanamo Bay dropped charges Thursday against an al-Qaida suspect in the 2000 USS Cole bombing, upholding President Barack Obama’s order to freeze military tribunals there. The charges against suspected al-Qaida bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri marked the last active Guantanamo war crimes case.

The legal move by Susan J. Crawford, the top legal authority for military trials at Guantanamo, brings all cases into compliance with Obama’s Jan. 22 executive order to halt terrorist court proceedings at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Crawford dismissed the charges against al-Nashiri without prejudice. That means new charges can be brought again later. He will remain in prison for the time being.

“It was her decision, but it reflects the fact that the president has issued an executive order which mandates that the military commissions be halted, pending the outcome of several reviews of our operations down at Guantanamo,” Morrell said late Thursday night.

The ruling also gives the White House time to review the legal cases of all 245 terror suspects held there and decide whether they should be prosecuted in the U.S. or released to other nations.

Andy McCarthy provides background and analysis:

…it is noteworthy that, before the appointing authority acted this evening, Obama had scheduled a meeting for tomorrow afternoon with victims and families of victims not only of the Cole bombing but of of the 9/11 attacks. At a minimum, he appeared poised to announce he was dropping the Cole charges against Nashiri. All evening, however, it has been floated from several knowledgeable sources that the president was prepared to announce the dismissal of all the commission cases — i.e., not only against Nashiri but against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other 9/11 plotters. That suggestion is supported by the fact that the 9/11 families were invited to the White House meeting: there would have been no need to invite them to discuss an announcement that impacted only the Cole case.

Dismissals, if they happened, would surely be couched as “without prejudice.” That is, Obama would be able to tell the families — whether he meant it or not — that he could always re-file military commission charges if he ultimately decided that commissions, rather than civilian trials, were the best way to go.

The appointing authority’s action tonight removes the pressure on Obama to do anything tomorrow. (In truth, there was really no pressure on Obama to act tomorrow. It just happens that tomorrow is Friday, the day when administrations traditionally announce news they’d prefer to see buried — even when the country is not already distracted by a catastrophic trillion dollar “stimulus” bill.) Nevertheless, I would not be surprised to see the new administration go ahead and shut down all the commissions tomorrow.

My friend Melanie Morgan of Move America e-mails:

I am getting word from my sources inside the Beltway that tomorrow President Obama is going to hold a meeting with some families of the 9/11 victims, as well as survivors of the USS Cole bombing at the White House. My sources say that he is going to defend his decision to shut-down Gitmo during a photo op. My organization, Move America Forward, is releasing a new TV spot demanding that Obama keep Guantanamo Bay open. Closing Gitmo is just plain wrong. It is a slander against the professionalism of our troops at Gitmo who are guarding some of the most evil monsters running around this rock we call Earth. It is an open invitation for stone cold killers to join us on American soil to bust out their buddies, or activate sleeper cells against the federal prisons where the jihadists will be kept. And I don’t know about you, but I sure as hell don’t want a bunch of thugs, murderers and bombers being kept in federal prisons near me, nor receiving American style justice.

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Previous:

Remember the Cole: 8 years
Remember the Cole: seven years
Remember the Cole: Six years
Remember the Cole 2005
2005 – Nothing to see here, move along
2001 – A forgotten day of infamy
The al Qaeda jailbreak

The Navy’s USS Cole Memorial is here.

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