U.S. Drops Charges Against 5 Guantanamo Detainees

Five detainees being held at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay had the “war-charges” against them dismissed on Tuesday.

The Pentagon official in charge of prosecutions at Guantanamo on Tuesday dismissed war-charges against five detainees, the latest setback to the government’s military commission system.

There have been many setbacks in the military’s handling of Guantanamo, including the recent resignation of the military prosecutor in charge of the five cases that were just dismissed.

All five cases had been handled by Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, a military prosecutor who stepped down from his position in September, saying publicly that there were systemic problems in the prosecution that raised ethical issues. Colonel Vandeveld, an Army reserve officer and the latest person to quit the prosecutor’s office in Guantanamo, said the prosecutors did not fully comply with rules that require that they turn over any information that might help the defense.

Colonel Morris has denied that Colonel Vandeveld’s departure was related to a dispute about complying with legal rules for the proper handling of cases.

By many accounts, the decision has reinforced public perception that the current state of affairs in Guantanamo prosecutions is “a mess”.

But detainees’ lawyers cast the decision to withdraw the charges as the latest in a series of difficulties government lawyers have had in pressing cases against Guantanamo detainees. “My impression is it is just a mess, and the floor is collapsing underneath them,” said Clare Algar, the executive director of Reprieve, an international legal organization that represent many detainees including Binyam Mohammed.

Although the charges against these individuals “were dismissed without prejudice, which means ‘the government can raise the charges again at a later time'”, at this point, it is unclear how the government intends to proceed with their cases.

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