Restarting The Clock

by digby

If you ever wanted to know what a legal system in hell would look like, this is it:

The Pentagon said Tuesday it has dropped war-crimes charges against five Guantanamo Bay detainees after the former prosecutor in their cases complained that the military was withholding evidence helpful to the defense.

None of the men will be freed, and the military said it could reinstate charges later.

America's first war-crimes trials since the close of World War II have come under persistent criticism, including from officers appointed to prosecute them. Some of the harshest words came this month from the very man who was to prosecute the five men against whom charges were dropped.

Army Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld said during a pretrial hearing for a sixth detainee this month that the war-crimes trials are unfair. Vandeveld said the military was withholding exculpatory evidence from the defense in that case, and was doing so in others. He resigned over his concerns.

But the chief Guantanamo prosecutor, Army Col. Lawrence Morris, said Tuesday's announcement was unrelated to Vandeveld's accusations. He said the charges were dismissed because evidence "is being more thoroughly analyzed." He would not elaborate on the nature of the evidence but said the review began before Vandeveld's testimony.

"Rather than refine the current charges, it was more efficient and more just to have them dismissed and charge them anew," he told The Associated Press.

In addition, dismissing the charges allows to Pentagon to avoid deadlines set by the Military Commissions Act to bring the men to trial.

"The way to stop the clock and get a new clock is to dismiss the charges and start again," said Air Force Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor who quit in October and later testified about alleged political interference in the military trials.

This is turning from Franz Kafka into Joseph Heller.

They actually expect people to believe it's coincidence that these five cases are the same cases vandevled resigned over and then just say right out that they are circumventing the spirit of the law to keep these men imprisoned indefinitely --- even though the big question that is interfering with their trials is the question of their actual guilt.

I don't know what the eventual disposition of these cases will be. But I'm going to make a prediction today that if a president Obama tries to end this inhumane regime, it will be "don't ask, don't tell" all over again. And I also predict he'd be sandbagged by members of his own party (and perhaps even by Colin Powell, who was responsible for that earlier monstrosity.) It won't matter that McCain also said he would close Guantanamo. After all --- it always takes Nixon to go to China. Perhaps Obama knows this and has a cunning plan to get around it.

This is going to be a problem:

A poll by the Military Times newspaper group suggests that there is overwhelming support for John McCain among U.S. troops in every branch of the armed forces by a nearly 3-1 margin.

According to the poll, 68 percent of active-duty and retired servicemen and women support McCain, while 23 percent support Barack Obama. The numbers are nearly identical among officers and enlisted troops.

The Military Times, which publishes the Army Times, Navy Times, Marine Corps Times and Air Force Times, polled 80,000 subscribers from Sept 22 to Sept. 29. The non-scientific survey gathered 4,300 respondents -- all of them registered and eligible to vote.

A racial divide was immediately evident among the respondents. Nearly eight in 10 black servicemembers chose Obama, while McCain captured 76 percent of white voters and 63 percent of Hispanic voters.

Numbers among men and women respondents were also visibly different. Men overwhelmingly said they would vote for McCain, 70 percent to 22 percent. But among women the margin was much closer: 53 percent support McCain, while 36 percent support Obama.

U.S. troops also said in the poll that they prefer McCain to handle the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- 74 percent said McCain would perform better, while just 19 percent said Obama would.