Friday, February 6, 2009

The Barack Obama administration has dropped all charges against the mastermind of the USS Cole bombing


By LARA JAKES – 18 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon's senior judge overseeing terror trials at Guantanamo Bay dropped charges Thursday against an al-Qaida suspect in the 2000 USS Cole bombing, upholding President Barack Obama's order to freeze military tribunals there.

The charges against suspected al-Qaida bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri marked the last active Guantanamo war crimes case.

The legal move by Susan J. Crawford, the top legal authority for military trials at Guantanamo, brings all cases into compliance with Obama's Jan. 22 executive order to halt terrorist court proceedings at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Crawford withdrew the charges against al-Nashiri. However, new charges can be brought again later, and al-Nashiri will remain in prison for the time being.

"It was her decision, but it reflects the fact that the president has issued an executive order which mandates that the military commissions be halted, pending the outcome of several reviews of our operations down at Guantanamo," Morrell said late Thursday night.

The ruling also gives the White House time to review the legal cases of all 245 terror suspects held there and decide whether they should be prosecuted in the U.S. or released to other nations.

Obama was to meet with families of the USS Cole and 9/11 victims at the White House on Friday afternoon and may announce the move.

Seventeen U.S. sailors died on Oct. 12, 2000, when al-Qaida suicide bombers steered an explosives-laden boat into the Cole, a guided-missile destroyer, as it sat in a Yemen port.

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