Stopping Gitmo trials

STOPPING GITMO TRIALS…. So far, so good.

Hours after taking office, U.S. President Barack Obama ordered military prosecutors in the Guantanamo war crimes tribunals to ask for a 120-day halt in all pending cases and a judge granted the request on Wednesday in the case against a young Canadian.

When defense lawyers did not oppose the move, a judge froze the proceedings against Canadian Omar Khadr, who was captured at age 15 and is accused of murdering a U.S. soldier with a grenade during a firefight in Afghanistan. […]

Obama’s order to the prosecutors was issued several hours after his swearing-in on Tuesday and if all the continuances are granted it would halt proceedings against 21 prisoners.

As we talked about this morning, this wasn’t a sure-thing. Obama instructed military prosecutors to try to suspend legal proceedings at Guantanamo Bay, so that the new administration can review the process and the pending cases, but there was no guarantee military judges would agree to the requests. This morning’s announcement, then, is encouraging. Indeed, the AP noted that the judge granted Obama’s request very quickly, without even holding a hearing on the question.

What Obama will replace this system with remains to be seen, but in the meantime, it’s the beginning of the end for the Guantanamo detention facility and the military commissions as we know them.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.