USS Cole – Obama

February 12, 2009

Remember The Cole


War On Terror: Charges against the mastermind behind the bombing of the USS Cole are dismissed. He will be retried, but not by a military commission that would have given him the death penalty he deserves.

Read More: Global War On Terror

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell announced on Thursday that Susan Crawford, the convening authority for military tribunals at Guantanamo, has made the decision to withdraw charges against Abd al-Rahim Hussain Mohammed al-Nashiri. This is the Saudi man believed to be the architect of the bombing of the guided missile destroyer USS Cole, killing 17 American sailors, as it sat in the Yemeni port of Aden.

The dismissal was politically necessary to clear the detainee docket at Guantanamo and facilitate the promised closing of the prisoner-of-war facility. The decision certainly pleases the ACLU, which argued that charges should be dropped altogether because he had been one of the three Gitmo detainees “tortured” by waterboarding.

The decision likely does not please the families of the Cole crew members who were killed. They met with President Obama on Friday. Family members of the 9/11 victims were also present.

The White House announced the president wanted “to talk with these families about resolving the issues involved with closing Guantanamo Bay while keeping the safety and security of the American people as his top priority.”

Not so convinced is Kirk Lippold, the Cole’s captain at the time of the attack. “It appears the Obama administration, without consideration for its immediate impact or long-term effects, will use a legal maneuver to prevent these detainees from being held accountable for their heinous acts,” said Lippold, now retired. “The president must consider the impact of his policies on the military and their families who bear the burden of their sacrifice to protect our nation. To do any less demeans their service and sacrifice.”

The rush to close Guantanamo hit a speed bump Jan. 29 when the chief military judge, Army Col. James Pohl, said the administration request to suspend proceedings against Guantanamo detainees and have al-Nashiri’s hearing delayed was unreasonable. Pohl said his decision was necessary to protect “the public interest in a speedy trial.” [ WHAT? THE PUBLIC!!!]

The Gitmo trials came to a halt Jan. 21 after two other military judges granted the administration’s request for a suspension. Obama’s executive order keeping his campaign promise to close Guantanamo within a year was issued the following day.

In all, war crime charges are pending against 21 detainees. The administration asked for a 120-day suspension in proceedings against them while it considered whether to continue trying them before the current commissions, revamp them, send the detainees to foreign courts or have them tried in civilian courts.

Clearly the preference was not to try these detainees in a system created by President George W. Bush and Congress in 2006. In June, Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann said it was the military’s intention to seek the death penalty against al-Nashiri.

The charges against him were dismissed “without prejudice,” meaning they could be reissued at a future time. But trying this unrepentant jihadist in a civilian court with the ACLU at his side makes the death penalty, perhaps even a conviction, less likely.

Seventeen U.S sailors died on Oct. 12, 2000, when al-Qaida suicide bombers steered an explosive-laden boat into the Cole, blowing a huge hole in her side. The attack’s mastermind should meet swift and certain justice regardless of whether water was poured down his nose. Otherwise, it’s the families of those 17 sailors who are now being tortured.



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