The Pentagon is charging two detainees at the Guantánamo Bay naval base with conspiracy to commit terrorism and war crimes against civilians, reports the New York Times. The first candidates there to face a military tribunal are Ali Hamza Ahmed Sulayman al-Bahlul of Yemen and Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi of Sudan. They were described as senior members of Al Qaeda who worked for Osama bin Laden.
The charges means that the military commission process announced soon after Sept. 11, 2001, is being put into operation. No date was set for the first U.S. military tribunals since the end of World War II. Officials expect pretrial proceedings to take a few months; trials before a panel of up to seven military officers might start by late spring.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Philip Sundel, one of Bahlul’s lawyers, told the Times that he might challenge the foundation of the proceeding. “We have concerns about virtually every aspect of the military commission process as it relates to our client getting a fair trial,” Sundel said. Tribunal proceedings are reviewable by a special appeals panel and by the secretary of defense and the president. There is no provision for review by civilian courts.