After unexpectedly deciding to split the 9/11 case into two trials last month, a military commission judge reversed himself and decided on Wednesday to put the severed case back together again. At least for now.
It remains to be seen how involved the U.S. will get in this latest war in Iraq, and the price tag that will come with it. But the uncertainties of costly new wars makes it even more important that we clean up the mess of the old one.
After Ramzi Bin al Shibh four times objected in court this week to the noisiness of his prison cell at night, the judge presiding over the September 11 military commission case on Thursday ordered he undergo a mental competency examination and stalled the case.
The judge presiding over the 9/11 case at the Guantanamo military hearings had one of the five co-defendants forcibly removed from the courtroom after he objected that he was being deprived of his right to meaningfully participate in his case.
The ability of the defendants to meet with their defense counsel is extremely limited. It's not so surprising that, when warned that "failure to meet with and cooperate with your defense counsel may negatively affect the presentation of your case," the accused men might object.
Even if the newly released footage of Bin al shibh's interrogation in Morocco shows largely benign interrogations, we shouldn't forget that many of the videotapes that the CIA destroyed in 2005 documented serious abuse.
With no visible progress this was another dismal outing for the Commissions, and another warning for the Obama administration that any kind of revival of the wretched trial system will remain fraught with insoluble problems.
I can only wonder if Mohammed have decided that their best hope for advancing al-Qaeda's cause lies in trying to secure a conviction in the tainted Military Commissions before Obama can dismantle them.