This text was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Middle on Disaster Reporting.
WASHINGTON — Proceedings within the long-delayed trial at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, of 5 males accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001, assaults hit a brand new roadblock on Friday when the navy assigned an Air Drive choose to preside within the case, and battle court docket prosecutors declared the officer unqualified for the job.
The chief of the navy commissions named Lt. Col. Matthew N. McCall because the sixth choose to deal with the loss of life penalty case since arraignment in 2012. He’s a deputy chief circuit choose for the Air Drive at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia however has served lower than two years as a navy choose, prompting prosecutors to file a protest on Friday evening.
“Whereas respectful of Lt. Col. McCall’s navy profession and achievements, the federal government doesn’t consider he’s certified to preside over this case based mostly on the data out there,” prosecutors wrote in a two-page notice.
The foundations for navy commissions trials require a choose on the battle court docket to have been a navy choose in one of many companies for a minimum of two years. The prosecutors added that if Colonel McCall didn’t recuse himself from the case on his personal, they might search to take away him.
The event solid additional doubt on when and how prosecutors will be able to restart pretrial proceedings, but alone the anticipated yearlong trial, within the case towards Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and 4 different prisoners at Guantánamo who’re accused of conspiring with the 19 hijackers who killed 2,976 folks in New York and in Pennsylvania and on the Pentagon.
The case has had a lot of judges assigned to it, and this yr, one selected to retire, one other stuffed in on an administrative foundation and a 3rd lasted two weeks earlier than recusing himself, citing private ties to New Yorkers who had been “immediately affected” by the assaults.
The Senate confirmed Colonel McCall’s promotion to colonel on July 30, though his elevation in rank has but to happen in a Pentagon system that handles the promotions on a rolling foundation. As soon as it turns into official, he must serve within the rank for 3 years to be eligible for full retirement with a colonel’s advantages, circumstances that recommend he might stay on the bench lengthy sufficient to see the complicated conspiracy case to a trial.
Colonel McCall additionally seems to haven’t any such conflicts. His official biography confirmed he was a legislation clerk in Hawaii on the time of the Sept. 11 assaults and earlier than that attended legislation faculty on the College of Hawaii.
He was admitted to the Hawaii bar on Nov. 1, 2001, has been deployed at least once to Iraq, for six months in 2006 and 2007 as a prosecutor, then targeted on navy protection work from 2008 to 2013. He was a protection lawyer in 2009 on the Air Drive Particular Operations Command at Hurlburt Discipline within the Florida Panhandle and in addition served as a senior protection counsel in Charleston, S.C.
Extra lately, the Sept. 11 trial has been hampered by modifications in personnel, logistical challenges and the coronavirus pandemic. Mixed, they’ve stalled most litigation and compelled cancellation of each pretrial listening to within the case since February.
Now, coming building to fill a spot in out there housing on the base makes clear that the Pentagon is planning for a 2022 trial begin date.
The Protection Logistics Company lately ordered greater than 150 prefabricated, single-occupancy quarters from a Las Vegas firm for $11.6 million, with a supply date of January and February 2022. A village of 375-square-foot homes could be put in on an out of date airfield on the court docket compound, Camp Justice, for the legal professionals and different skilled employees taking part within the Sept. 11 trial.