Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Sorta military justice--"Guantánamo Court And Prison Have Cost Billions"

NPR has an interesting piece on the costs apparently associated with the Military Commissions at Guantanamo Bay.
The U.S. military court and prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have cost more than $6 billion to operate since opening nearly 18 years ago and still churn through more than $380 million a year despite housing only 40 prisoners today.
Included in that amount are taxpayer-funded charter planes often flying just a few passengers to and from the island; hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of government electronic devices intentionally destroyed each year due to spills of classified information; some Pentagon-funded defense attorneys billing about half-a-million dollars a year; and total legal costs of nearly $60 million annually even though Guantánamo has had only one finalized conviction.
Criticism of that spending comes even from inside Guantánamo. A former top attorney there has filed a federal whistleblower complaint alleging "gross financial waste" and "gross mismanagement," NPR has learned.
The piece reports that,
Some lawyers say the cases are progressing toward trial, even if imperceptibly slowly. But the court suffered a setback in April, when a federal appeals court threw out more than two years of one military court judge's decisions after it was revealed that he had been pursuing an immigration judge job with the Justice Department. This was at the same time he was overseeing a Guantánamo case being prosecuted by the Justice Department. That conflict of interest resulted in his Guantánamo rulings dating back to November 2015 being erased.
Here's a question. Can the new trial judge effectively minimize the doom and gloom flowing from the the federal court decision in Al-Nashiri ?

  • The new judge has the already filed pleadings and rulings to study.
  • The parties should have the opportunity to supplement the prior filings.
  • The parties should have the opportunity to reargue the motions.

Could not the new judge review all of the prior filings and prior rulings and make a considered decision essentially adopting the same ruling as his own? Those new rulings would be subject to appeal in the normal course of appellate review. And, if the prior rulings were legally erroneous the new judge might be able to take corrective action thus mooting an appellate issue.

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