Ex-Gitmo Lawyer Files|for Protected Status

     BOSTON (CN) — A legal adviser wants whistleblower status after being removed from Guantanamo Bay for reporting three officers who he says defied a court order in the case against the suspected bomber of the USS Cole.
     Stephen Gill, a U.S. Navy reserve officer who was mobilized in January 2015 to serve as assistant legal counsel in Guantanamo Bay, was among a group of military legal advisers serving under Convening Authority Vaughn Ary who were ordered to abstain from working on the case against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.
     Al-Nashiri is accused of planning the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000.
     Gill’s deployment came at a tumultuous time for Guantanamo Bay, just before the sixth change in leadership in 12 years for its court system.
     Two months after Gill arrived in Guantanamo Bay, Ary and his staff were barred from participating in the case against al-Nashiri for undue influence after Ary recommended that military judges be made to live at Guantanamo Bay during trials, some of which have lasted years.
     Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Works took up Ary’s recommendation, but had to rescind the call after concerns were raised about undue influence, since the judges would be required to drop all other cases they might be presiding over and live at Gitmo, where they would essentially be under the authority of those acting as prosecutors in military cases.
     Following Works’ backpedaling on Ary’s recommendation, military judge Vance Spath issued a disqualification order for Ary and his staff.
     “In order to further absolve the proceedings of taint, the current convening authority and his staff of legal advisors are disqualified from taking any future action in this case,” the disqualification order states. “They are disqualified from all decisions related to this case and from providing recommendations specific to this case from this point forward.”
     Ary resigned shortly after, marking the sixth recent change in leadership for Guantanamo Bay court system.
     Rear Adm. Michael Quinn, Ary’s temporary replacement, defied the disqualification order and kept Col. Edward Sheeran and Mark Toole, both superiors to Gill, involved in the al-Nashiri case, according to Gill.
     Gill says he refused to participate in Toole and Sheeran’s ongoing defiance of the disqualification order, reporting them three different times in March and April 2015.
     A few days after his third report, Gill was allegedly accused of misconduct and sent for additional temporary duty at a different military command for 32 days. During that time, Gill again reported Toole and Sheeran’s ongoing defiance, according to court records.
     Within 24 hours, Gill says he was demobilized from active duty. He believes the demobilization order was in retaliation for reporting his superiors.
     On Monday, he filed a lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment on his rights under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act.
     “Plaintiff contends that the orders to demobilize Gill from active duty constituted violation of the Military Whistleblower Protection Act,” the eight-page complaint states. “Plaintiff is in need of an immediate determination of his rights and obligations under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act…including but not limited to the commencement of the applicable limitations period.”
     Gill represents himself in the case, which he filed in Eastern Massachusetts Federal Court.

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