A military judge’s ruling that a Pentagon lawyer improperly pressured prosecutors could hurt efforts to try top al Qaeda suspects held at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann has been ordered to stay out of the prosecution of Osama bin Laden’s driver. The ruling judge says that Hartmann, the legal adviser to the Office of Military Commissions, exerted improper influence on the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan “troubling” and ordered Hartmann to stay out of Hamdan’s prosecution.
Defense attorney Charles Swift said the ruling is likely to stall the pending case against Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s driver and bodyguard, and complicate the prosecutions of other al Qaeda figures before the military courts set up by the Bush administration.