US military judge Colonel Patrick Parrish ruled April 7 that Pentagon officials lacked the authority to dismiss Lieutenant Commander William Kuebler as defense counsel for Canadian Guantánamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr. Chief defense counsel Colonel Peter Masciola reassigned Kuebler earlier this month after Kuebler filed a formal complaint alleging that Masciola had a conflict of interest in overseeing the case. Parrish ruled that, under the rules of military tribunals, only a judge could remove a lawyer under such circumstances. Kuebler further alleges that he was barred from accessing files and resources that he needed to work on Khadr’s defense. Kuebler continues to maintain that Khadr should be sent back to Canada.
Kuebler has long criticized Masciola’s handling of the case and in February stated that he had prompted the investigation of the defense team’s ethics based on Masciola’s leadership. Khadr’s defense team had presented a plan to return him to Canada, a proposal supported by opposition members of the Canadian House of Commons. Khadr has allegedly admitted to throwing a hand grenade that killed a US soldier in Afghanistan, and was charged in April 2007 with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism, and spying. (Jurist, April 8)