Despite the fact that defense attorneys for five suspected al Qaeda members being held at Guantanamo Bay have not yet received security clearances from the Pentagon that would allow them to participate in hearings, the Bush administration is aggressively pushing ahead with the prosecutions. The lawyers also claim that so far, they have had only a few hours to meet with their clients and have not had time to sufficiently “prepare a defense” in the death penalty cases.
A newly released e-mail, dated May 27, shows a civilian member of the prosecution team suggesting a trial date of Sept. 15:
As the attorneys write in their brief asking the military judge to dismiss the charges against the detainees, “Not coincidentally, the Prosecution has now proposed a trial schedule that would force the trial of this case in mid-September, some seven weeks before the general election.” The Miami Herald notes the additional political significance of Sept. 15:
The date, in fact, is 10 days after Sen. John McCain, an architect of Military Commissions law, is expected to be officially nominated as the Republican presidential candidate at the GOP national convention in St. Paul, Minn.
In October, Air Force Col. Morris Davis, formerly the lead prosecutor for terrorism trials at Guantanamo Bay, also revealed that he was pressured to pursue “sexy” cases, instead of ones that were the most solid. “There was a big concern that the election of 2008 is coming up,” Davis said. “People wanted to get the cases going.”