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Pentagon to double number of Guantanamo lawyers

[JURIST] The Pentagon has said that an additional 108 military lawyers and paralegals will be assigned to work on the cases of prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], twice the current number. Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann [JURIST news archive], legal advisor to the Office of Military Commissions, made the announcement last Thursday, the same day as five men charged with plotting the Sept. 11 attacks were arraigned [JURIST report] before a military commission at Guantanamo bay, a critical move in the legal proceedings against some of the 19 detainees [DOD military commissions information page] awaiting trial.

Hartmann said that the additional lawyers will ensure fair trials, but critics argue that the allocation of additional resources is political [TIME report], designed to finish the commissions before the November elections and to avoid the possible result of a Supreme Court ruling expected later this month on whether federal courts may consider the legality of Guantanamo detentions [writ of certiorari, PDF; oral arguments transcript, PDF]. Hartmann himself was recently disqualified [JURIST report] by a US military judge from participating in the trial of Guantanamo detainee Salim Hamdan because he was deemed too closely associated with the prosecution. Reuters has more. American Forces Press Service has additional coverage.

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