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Oh yeah, that "rule of law" thing ...
Posted by: McQ on Friday, January 30, 2009

After 2 years of lambasting the Bush administration about its supposed failure to adhere to the rule of law, it takes a military judge to remind our new President that he too must adhere to it.

You may remember that the new commander-in-chief issued a request (which is, essentially an order) that the military commissions process be frozen for 120 days to allow time for the new administration to study the process.

COL James Pohl, a military judge presiding in one of the cases refused the delay.
''On its face, the request to delay the arraignment is not reasonable,'' the judge, Army Col. James Pohl, wrote in his three-page ruling denying a prosecution request to delay Nashiri's first court appearance.
Abd el Rahim al Nashiri faces a Feb. 9 arraignment on terror charges he helped orchestrate the October 2000 al Qaeda suicide bombing that killed 17 U.S. sailors aboard the USS Cole.

Here's the key point to COL Pohl's ruling:
''The public interest in a speedy trial will be harmed by the delay in the arraignment,'' Pohl also wrote.

He noted that unless Congress amended the 2006 Military Commissions Act, ``the commission is bound by the law as it currently exists not as it may change in the future.''
Good call, COL Pohl.

The reaction is fairly interesting:

The decision stunned officials at the Department of Defense and White House, which had just begun to grapple with Obama's order to freeze the war court and empty the prison camps within a year.

''The Department of Defense is currently reviewing Judge Pohl's ruling,'' said Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon. ``We will be in compliance with the president's orders regarding Guantánamo.''

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told the Associated Press that the administration was consulting with the Departments of Defense and Justice ``to explore our options in the case.''
One option, the primary option, is to comply with the law of the land. But as I've mentioned before, when an obstacle stands in the way of a desired government action, it usually finds some way around the obstacle, whether doing so complies with our laws or not.

Let's see how COL Pohl and his opinion fare in all of this. But a tip of the hat to the good COL for standing up for the rule of law.
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