For a second time, a military judge Thursday barred a U.S. general at the Pentagon from acting as a legal advisor in the trial of an accused terrorist at the Guantánamo war court.
Judge Stephen Henley also ordered a new top-level review of the charges against Mohammed Jawad, about 23, who is accused of attempted murder for allegedly throwing a grenade as a teen that wounded two U.S. soldiers and their translator in a bazaar in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann's aggressive advocacy of the trials by military commission -- in the media and other public statements -- ''compromised the objectivity necessary to dispassionately and fairly evaluate the evidence and prepare the post-trial evaluation,'' Henley ruled.
Defense attorneys had argued that Hartmann had become so preoccupied with the prosecution's side of the war crimes court -- and the Jawad case in particular -- that he pressured prosecutors to charge him.
Henley ruled that while the case's prosecutors swore out the charges properly, Hartmann could not serve as a ''neutral'' advisor on the case.
''The judge found that in the interests of justice General Hartmann is disqualified from further action in this case,'' said Air Force Maj. Gail Crawford, a military attorney serving as spokeswoman for the trials.[...]
The ruling echoed one in May by Navy Capt. Keith Allred, another judge, who banned Hartmann from oversight of the just completed trial of Osama bin Laden's driver, Salim Hamdan.
Hartmann took charge of the system a year ago and has emerged a relentless, aggressive champion through frequent shuttles between the Washington DC Beltway and this remote base.
So much so that on Wednesday another Guantánamo general, Army Brig. Gen. Gregory Zanetti, testified that Hartmann was ''abusive, bullying and unprofessional'' in his drive to stage the tribunals in a crude compound called Camp Justice on an abandoned airstrip here.
In his defense, Hartmann said this week: ``It is my obligation, my mission, my duty to make sure the commissions move and work.''
Jawad is accused of throwing a grenade into the military vehicle carrying American military in December 2002, more than a year into the U.S. invasion.
No one was killed, but three men were wounded.
His lawyer wants the charges dismissed on grounds Jawad was captured as a teenager, treated brutally in U.S. custody and wasn't a member of a terrorist organization.
In his oral ruling, Henley, an Army colonel, found that the general failed as legal advisor to pass along a defense counsel's analysis of ''mitigating and extenuating circumstances'' in the case to the Pentagon authority deciding on which cases to bring to trial.
''The issues raised by the original defense counsel warranted consideration,'' Henley said.