Nothing Like the Day Before Thanksgiving for a Military Commissions Announcement

Created: November 25, 2009 12:06 | Last updated: July 31, 2020 00:00

Midday on Wednesday Nov. 25, one of the busiest travel times of the year, and journalists stuck in check-in lines at the airport frustratingly checking their mobile devices find this pre-Thanksgiving gift from the Department of Defense:

Today, prosecutors in the Office of Military Commissions announced they intend to ask the convening authority to refer new charges under the recently-enacted Military Commissions Act of 2009 against Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza al Darbi, in connection with his alleged involvement in an al Qaeda conspiracy to attack military and commercial shipping in the Port of Aden and the Straits of Hormuz.

This announcement follows the attorney general’s determination on Nov. 13, 2009, that a military commission was the appropriate forum for prosecution of al Darbi.

al-Darbi has apparently not actually committed an act of terrorism, but if prosecutors are correct about his attendance at an al-Qaeda training camp, they have more than enough to convict him for conspiracy. So why try him in a military commission and not a civilian court? Even if the Obama administration has a compelling answer, don’t look for an answer today, as it’s right before Thanksgiving, an ideal time to drop a controversial decision without explaining it.