Gitmo Judge Refuses to Heed Obama Request for Delay in Terrorism Trials

On Thursday Army Col. James L. Pohl, the chief judge at the Guantanamo Bay war crimes court, said he would not heed President Obama's request for a 120-day continuance, or delay, in prosecutions of terrorism suspects. Supervising the trial of detainee Abd al-Rahim Hussein Mohammed Abdu Al-Nashiri, Pohl called the President's motion unreasonable and unjust. "We are consulting with the Pentagon and the Department of Justice to explore our options," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters.  "I believe that all the other trials were stayed, which I think continues to give us what we need to evaluate who is at Gitmo and make the decisions commensurate with the executive order that the President signed." Al-Nashiri has been identified as the former Persian Gulf Operations Chief for al Qaeda and the mastermind of the attack on the U.S.S. Cole. In March 2007 he testified in military court  that he only confessed to certain crimes because he has been tortured for the past five years. In his ruling, Pohl wrote that "On its face, the request to delay the arraignment is not reasonable," that "The public interest in a speedy trial will be harmed by the delay in the arraignment," "Granting the continuance do (sic) not serve the interests of justice" and therefore "The government request for a continuance in the arraignment until after 22 May 2009 is DENIED." Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Jeffrey D. Gordon said that "the Department of Defense is currently reviewing Judge Pohl's ruling. We will be in compliance with the president's orders regarding Guantanamo." -jpt

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