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Military Names Air Force Judge for Guantánamo Bay 9/11 Trial. But There’s a Snag.

  • October 17, 2020

The development cast further doubt on when and how prosecutors will be able to restart pretrial proceedings, yet alone the anticipated yearlong trial, in the case against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other prisoners at Guantánamo who are accused of conspiring with the 19 hijackers who killed 2,976 people in New York and in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon.

The case has had a number of judges assigned to it, and this year, one chose to retire, another filled in on an administrative basis and a third lasted two weeks before recusing himself, citing personal ties to New Yorkers who were “directly affected” by the attaThe Senate confirmed Colonel McCall’s promotion to colonel on July 30, although his elevation in rank has yet to take place in a Pentagon system that handles the promotions on a rolling basis. Once it becomes official, he would have to serve in the rank for three years to be eligible for full retirement with a colonel’s benefits, circumstances that suggest he could remain on the bench long enough to see the complex conspiracy case to a trial.

Colonel McCall also appears to have no such conflicts. His official biography showed he was a law clerk in Hawaii at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks and before that attended law school at the University of Hawaii.

He was admitted to the Hawaii bar on Nov. 1, 2001, has been deployed at least once to Iraq, for six months in 2006 and 2007 as a prosecutor, then focused on military defense work from 2008 to 2013. He was a defense lawyer in 2009 at the Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field in the Florida Panhandle and also served as a senior defense counsel in Charleston, S.C.

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