WASHINGTON (CN) – In a sign of retreat or confusion, the Bush administration is withdrawing terrorism charges against 11 Guantanamo detainees, though it may refile them, and none of the men are being released. Military prosecutors on Tuesday dropped charges against five men who were being prosecuted by Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, who quit in September, calling the prosecutorial process “appalling” and “unreliable.” The other case involves six Algerians, including Lakhdar Boumedienne, who successfully challenged the Bush administration’s denial of habeas corpus at the Supreme Court last year.
The New York Times reported on the administration’s confused and secretive change of attack in today’s editions. In the Algerians’ case, the Justice said in a classified filing that the Times called “cryptic,” that it had withdrawn “reliance on certain assertions.” This may involve evidence extracted under torture, but defense attorneys are prohibited from speaking about their clients’ cases because of the Draconian rules laid down by the military commissions.
The Algerians apparently are accused of plotting to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo in 2001, though a Bosnian court ruled there was not enough evidence to hold them, the Times reported.
The five men who were being prosecuted by Lt. Col. Vandeveld include Binyam Mohammed, a former resident of Great Britain, whom prosecutors accused of working with the so-called “dirty bomber,” Jose Padilla. Mohammed says he was tortured while in U.S. custody.