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22gitmo_190.jpgThe NY Times reports that the Pentagon has dropped charges against 5 detainees being held at Guantanamo bay, in just the latest setback for the Bush administration in the Guantanamo debacle. While government prosecutors stated that they would be reevaluating the cases and reserve the right to bring new charges at any time, it appears that these particular 5 cases were initially handled by military prosecutor Lt. Col. Darel Vandeveld, who recently resigned over “systemic problems” that “raised ethical issues” because prosecutors “did not fully comply with rules that require that they turn over any information that might help the defense.” Of course, Pentagon authorities were quick to deny any relationship between Vandeveld and the dismissals:

Colonel Morris has denied that Colonel Vandeveld’s departure was related to a dispute about complying with legal rules for the proper handling of cases. “I don’t want to unduly attribute responsibility to him,” Colonel Morris said of reviewing the files handled by Colonel Vandeveld. “We have found that there is more work to be done on all these cases.” He said he had recently appointed new prosecutors to each of the cases. But detainees’ lawyers cast the decision to withdraw the charges as the latest in a series of difficulties government lawyers have had in pressing cases against Guantanamo detainees. “My impression is it is just a mess, and the floor is collapsing underneath them,” said Clare Algar, the executive director of Reprieve, an international legal organization that represent many detainees including Binyam Mohammed.

Colonel Vandeveld has said recently that he was ordered by military superiors not to comment on the Guantanamo cases and did not respond to a message seeking comment Tuesday.