Can’t even run a show trial right

Talking Points Memo | Gitmo judge removed from Canadian’s case

The chief judge for the Guantanamo tribunals, Marine Col. Ralph Kohlmann, dismissed Brownback and appointed a new judge for Khadr’s case without explanation, defense lawyer Navy Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler said.

In November, Brownback said in court that Defense Department officials “didn’t like” a ruling that dismissed the charges over a lack of jurisdiction. That decision was overturned on appeal.

Khadr’s case has been on track to be one of the first to trial at the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba. Khadr, the son of an alleged al-Qaida financier, was captured in Afghanistan at age 15 and accused of throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. Special Forces soldier.

Military prosecutors have been pressing Brownback to set a trial date, but he has repeatedly directed them first to satisfy defense requests for access to potential evidence. At a hearing earlier this month, he threatened to suspend the proceedings altogether unless the detention center provided records of Khadr’s confinement.

Debacles like this really show what incompetent managers inhabit this administration. If you’re going to have a kangaroo court, then appoint some effing kangaroos to run it, not anyone who might develop even the tiniest shred of conscience or respect for legal process. Having to swap out apparatchiks because you can’t get the rulings you want is a sign of planning right in line with “they’ll greet us with flowers.”

This maneuver is also of a piece with messes like the warrantless-wiretapping scandal. It’s not as if the people who have been calling foul are great civil libertarians, it’s just that the behavior of this administration goes beyond the pale for all but the most dedicated psychopaths.

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