The U.S. military has chosen an Air Force Col. David L. Cappos to preside over the most high-profile military commission trial of the past several years at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Cappos, 56, was named in a Pentagon letter obtained by the Times on Thursday. In the proceeding known as the Air Force Commission of Combatant Status Review Tribunal or CAPSTRO, he is overseeing efforts to determine whether all the detainees held at Guantánamo as enemy combatants ever should be transferred to the United States for trial. Cappos was relieved of his duty as a senior legal officer for the U.S. Air Force after he agreed to take the assignment.
“I know I will do an extremely effective job during the next challenge in my career,” he said.
Military defense lawyers have described the CAPSTRO process as among the most difficult issues facing Guantanamo detainees and say it has cost the government $200 million. That was more than double the initial estimate of $80 million, Pentagon lawyers say.
The nation’s most notorious enemy combatants were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics after the Sept. 11 attacks, although there was no evidence that they had participated in the attack.
The next trial, called the military commission, began in 2009 with a case known as the U.S. v. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, also known as KSM.
KSM, who has admitted that he masterminded the attacks, was arrested in Pakistan in 2003 and has since been held at Guantánamo.
Mohammed has been in federal prison since 2006 after spending years in secret CIA custody and on a secret overseas interrogation site. He is now awaiting trial on charges of terrorism and the murder of 2,976 people, including the Sept. 11 victims.