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DateLine Saturday, 31 January 2009

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Judge rejects Obama bid to stall Gitmo trial

PUERTO RICO: A military judge at Guantanamo on Thursday rejected a White House request to suspend a hearing for the alleged mastermind of the USS Cole bombing, creating an unexpected challenge for the administration as it reviews how America puts suspected terrorists on trial.

The judge, Army Col. James Pohl, said his decision was difficult but necessary to protect "the public interest in a speedy trial."

The ruling came in the case against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. The bombing of the Navy destroyer in 2000 in the harbor of Aden, Yemen, killed 17 U.S. sailors.

It seemed to take the Pentagon and White House by surprise.

"We just learned of the ruling ... and we are consulting with the Pentagon and the Department of Justice to explore our options in the case," said White Press secretary Robert Gibbs, adding that he doubted the decision would hamper the administration's ability to decide how to move forward from Guantanamo.

The Department of Defense is reviewing Judge Pohl's ruling, said Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman.

Geoff Morrell, another Pentagon spokesman, told reporters that there were "no ifs, ands or buts" about adhering to the president's executive order and that there would "be no proceedings continuing down at Gitmo with military commissions."

SAN JUAN, Friday, AP

 

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