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 conflict courtroom 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 demise 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 night time.
“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 primarily based on the knowledge accessible,” prosecutors wrote in a two-page notice.
The foundations for navy commissions trials require a choose on the conflict courtroom to have been a navy choose in one of many companies for no less than two years. The prosecutors added that if Colonel McCall didn’t recuse himself from the case on his personal, they’d 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 in opposition to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and 4 different prisoners at Guantánamo who’re accused of conspiring with the 19 hijackers who killed 2,976 individuals in New York and in Pennsylvania and on the Pentagon.
The case has had quite a few judges assigned to it, and this yr, one selected to retire, one other crammed in on an administrative foundation and a 3rd lasted two weeks earlier than recusing himself, citing private ties to New Yorkers who have been “straight 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 may stay on the bench lengthy sufficient to see the advanced conspiracy case to a trial.
Colonel McCall additionally seems to haven’t any such conflicts. His official biography confirmed he was a regulation clerk in Hawaii on the time of the Sept. 11 assaults and earlier than that attended regulation college 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 Area within the Florida Panhandle and in addition served as a senior protection counsel in Charleston, S.C.
Extra just 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 niche in accessible housing on the base makes clear that the Pentagon is planning for a 2022 trial begin date.
The Protection Logistics Company just 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 can be put in on an out of date airfield on the courtroom compound, Camp Justice, for the attorneys and different skilled workers taking part within the Sept. 11 trial.