For a candidate that talked about ending torture and closing Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, signing an executive order that puts a 120-day moratorium on prosecutions at Gitmo is a start. It is, though, just a start and not even a given.
From my understanding, this executive order does not carry weight behind it. Each military judge, as all of the prosecutions at Gitmo are military, must hold a hearing and decide, based on input from victims’ relatives and the defendants, whether to halt the prosecutory process.
In one case, this process has already taken place. The case of Omar Kadhr – 15 years old Canadian citizen when he was detained in AFghanistan for killing a US soldier – will be put on hold.
Later today, a second case, one with five defendants accused of participation in the planning of the September 11th tragedy in the US will hold hearings today on the delay. Relatives of the victims of 9/11 are already in Cuba for the prosecution. Several of the defendants are not represented by attorneys, instead choosing to represent themselves. It is expected that at least one of these who represents himself, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will speak. Most betting people are leaning towards him wanting a swift judicial process.
While I applaud President Obama for trying to follow through on his campaign promises, I am concerned in the long run about what will happen to the almost 100 detainees at Gitmo that are awaiting trial.