The Obama administration has quietly refiled charges against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other 9/11 plotters in the military commission system. How quietly? The commissions office apparently only told the families of 9/11 victims about it last night, and news organization as of this morning are still not reporting it:
30 May 2011
Dear 9/11 Families,
We wanted to inform you that charges will be sworn tomorrow against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid Bin ‘Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa al Hawsawi for their involvement in the September 11, 2001 attacks. The eight charges common to all five of the accused are: Conspiracy, Murder in Violation of the Law of War, Attacking Civilians, Attacking Civilian Objects, Intentionally Causing Serious Bodily Injury, Destruction of Property in Violation of the Law of War, Hijacking Aircraft, and Terrorism.
The new action only restarts the process that Barack Obama upended in January 2009 by executive order:
These charges are allegations and the five accused are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a military commission.
After charges have been sworn, they will be presented to the Legal Advisor for the Convening Authority (CA) for his review and advice. After this review, the CA – in his sole discretion – may then refer the charges to a military commission. The CA will also determine whether or not to refer the charges to a capital military commission (meaning whether or not the death penalty will be sought in the case). If referred (capital or non-capital), a military judge would then be assigned and a panel of eligible military officers would be selected as potential members of the military commission. The accused would then be arraigned within 30 days of the service of the referred charges.
Twenty-nine months after Barack Obama took office, we’re finally back to the status quo ante. We’re only closer to justice in the sense that we’ve finally worked around the obstacles that Obama insisted on throwing in its path. That’s not to say it’s entirely his fault; the only reason Obama had the opportunity to toss wrenches in the works of the military commission was because Congress and the Bush administration took too long to address the nature of military commissions, and the Supreme Court interjected itself in a forum that had more than 200 years of precedent of being within the purview of the executive while at Congressionally-authorized war.
Nevertheless, we have wasted almost two and a half years, thanks to Obama’s insistence on trying illegal combatants captured abroad during wartime in civil courts for the first time in American history, which was only stopped because of the outrage of the American people. Let’s get it done this time, please.