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Obama administration not bringing charges against alleged USS Cole bomber: WP

The Obama administration has halted plans to prosecute Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri [NYT profile] for his alleged involvement in the 2000 USS Cole attack [JURIST news archive], according to a Washington Post report [text] Thursday. According to the report, the intention not to pursue charges was revealed in a motion filed with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official websites]. This intention was revealed by a single sentence in the filing, which states that charges against al-Nashiri are not pending or being considered. Reacting to the report, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] stated that the decision not to prosecute al-Nashiri in the near future demonstrates the "inherent unfairness of the military commissions," [press release] continuing:

The current state of the al-Nashiri trial underscores the fact that the military commissions system is designed to get convictions - not to provide fair trials that result in real justice. In the military commissions, the prosecution has all the power and the money, while the defense remains severely under-resourced. While the prosecution is getting paid to perfect its case against al-Nashiri, his lone defense attorney has been denied much-needed resources and all but blocked from preparing a defense. This is one more reason the military commissions should be shut down for good, and terrorism suspects should be tried in federal courts that guarantee the right to a robust defense and uphold the rule of law.
The Defense Department refuted the assertion that the government was not pursuing charges against al-Nashiri Thursday, stating that there was an active investigation ongoing against him.

In February 2009, the Pentagon formally dropped charges [JURIST report] against al-Nashiri. The order ended the last active military commission trial, complying with President Barack Obama's executive order mandating a reprieve of the prosecution [JURIST report] of all cases at Guantanamo. Al-Nashiri was accused of terrorism, attempted murder and providing material support to terrorism for his alleged role in planning the USS Cole attack. He was charged in June 2008 [JURIST report] under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [text, PDF]. He would have faced the death penalty if found guilty at his military tribunal [JURIST news archive]. In 2004, a Yemeni security court charged al-Nashiri in absentia [JURIST report] in connection with the attack, saying he belonged to al Qaeda [CFR backgrounder]. In 2005, a Yemeni appeals court upheld a death sentence [JURIST reports] against him.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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