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Gitmo Panel Faces Likely Challenge

Posted Jul 9, 2007 3:24 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Two members of a special review panel to hear appeals in Guantanamo detainee cases had helped the Defense Department draft prior rules for military commissions struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Former Attorney General Griffin Bell and former Transportation Secretary William Coleman helped draft the overturned rules, and Coleman attended a mock trial to help Guantanamo prosecutors, the Wall Street Journal reports (sub. req.). The original rules created a similar review court, and Bell and Coleman were both members.

Those actions could provide a basis for challenges by Guantanamo defense lawyers, says David Crane, a law professor at Syracuse University and a retired Army colonel. "If you have individuals who actually created the court and now are members of the court, that makes me a little uncomfortable," he told the newspaper.

The new appeals panel, known as the Court of Military Commission Review, was created late last month under a law passed in response to the Supreme Court opinion. The court will consider whether military judges properly dismissed charges against two prisoners because the government had failed to establish they were “unlawful enemy combatants” as required by the law.

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