The same day that a grand jury in Detroit handed down an criminal indictment of Umar Farouq Abdulmuttalab — kicking off a controversy about whether the accused terrorist should be tried in criminal court or in a military commission — the Justice Department quietly referred a detainee at Guantánamo for trial in a military commission.
The detainee, called Obaydullah, has been at Guantánamo since 2002, and is the sixth prisoner the Obama administration has referred for a military commission trial.
The Pentagon charge sheet against him accuses him of, on July 22, 2002, at or near Khowst, Afghanistan, storing and concealing anti-tank mines, other explosive devices and related equipment and concealing on himself a notebook describing how to wire and detonate explosive devices in preparation for an act of terrorism. A source claimed Obaydullah was a coordinator for al Qaeda. Another source claimed he'd placed mines on a road, but didn't know how to set them up.
Obaydullah said the information in the notebook was from his time at a mechanical school the Taliban forced him to attend. He denied the charges and that he knew anything about mines. He denied that anyone found mines at his home.
"It's disappointing that the administration has chosen to prosecute another Guantánamo detainee in a discredited system that is designed to ensure convictions rather than fair trials," said Jameel Jaffer, director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Security Project. "While Congress recently improved the military commissions system in certain respects, the system still fails to provide the procedural rights that are guaranteed by U.S. and international law. The military commissions system is also unnecessary, because the federal courts are well-equipped to handle complicated terrorism cases and protect classified information without compromising the rights of the accused."
The Justice Department legal brief — which you can read HERE — mainly deals with Obaydullah's habeas corpus case that, the government argues, he no longer has a basis for because the case has now been referred to a military commission.