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Federal Appeals Court Throws Out Legal Proceedings In USS Cole Court Case

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Washington (AP) — A federal appeals court has thrown out years of legal proceedings in the already-delayed military commission case against a Saudi charged in the deadly 2000 bombing of a U.S. warship.


An appellate panel in Washington said Tuesday that a military judge improperly continued to preside over the case after he sought a job in the Justice Department beginning in 2015. Retired Air Force Col. Vance Spath took a job last year as an immigration judge in the Justice Department.

“We cannot permit an appearance of partiality to infect a system of justice that requires the most scrupulous conduct from its adjudicators,” Judge David Tatel wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel. The military judge who briefly replaced Spath, Col. Shelly Schools, was taken off the case after it was revealed that Schools also was seeking to becoming an immigration judge.

Defendant Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri is accused of orchestrating the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, which killed 17 sailors and wounded 37. He could get the death penalty if convicted by the commission of charges that include terrorism and murder for his alleged role in the al-Qaida plot.

Al-Nashiri, in U.S. custody since 2002, is being held at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck said the ruling probably means additional years of delay “because a lot of these issues are going to have to be re-litigated from scratch.”

The military commission proceedings have repeatedly stalled since al-Nashiri’s arraignment in 2011. Spath himself called a halt last year following the discovery of microphones in a room where al-Nashiri met with his lawyers, and the lawyers’ subsequent decision to resign from the case for ethical reasons.

Spath touted his role as the presiding judge over al-Nashiri’s case in his employment application, including submitting an order he had issued as a writing sample, the appeals court said.

But “while Spath made sure to tell the Justice Department about his assignment to Al-Nashiri’s commission, he was not so forthcoming with Al-Nashiri. At no point in the two-plus years after submitting his application did Spath disclose his efforts to secure employment” as an immigration judge, Tatel wrote.

The court also was critical of prosecutors, the Justice Department and the Court of Military Commission Review, which had upheld many of Spath’s orders.

“To me, it’s a stunning rebuke of not only Judge Spath, but also the government lawyers and the Court of Military Commission Review for not showing far greater concern for the appearance of impartiality in a capital case, no matter — if not especially because of — what folks might think of the defendant,” Vladeck wrote in an email.

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Helicopter Crashes Into Manhattan Skyscraper, Kills Sole Person On Board

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The Fire Department said it was deploying over 100 emergency workers to the scene in Midtown Manhattan. Credit:James Estrin/The New York Times

A helicopter crashed onto the rooftop of a 51-story building in Midtown Manhattan on Monday afternoon and burst into flames.


Only one person was aboard the aircraft when it crashed on the roof of 787 Seventh Avenue at 51st Street at 1:43 p.m, city officials said. That person was reported to have been killed, according to two city officials.

A police official characterized the incident as a “hard landing.’’

The Fire Department said it was deploying over 100 emergency workers to the scene.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who was at the scene, said there was no indication of terrorism. He said the helicopter seemed to have made an emergency landing.

Mr. Cuomo acknowledged that the initial reports of the accident unsettled New Yorkers. “If you’re a New Yorker, you have a level of P.T.S.D., right, from 9/11,’’ Mr. Cuomo said. “I remember that morning all too well.”

Andrew Heath, 37, was working on the fifth floor of the building where the helicopter crashed.

“We heard an explosion — it sounded like a manhole cover had exploded,’’ he said. “I heard and felt it. It was like a thud. I was wondering if a really heavy truck was driving by, but it was a little too much.’’

The site of the accident, the AXA Equitable Center, is an office tower that is more than 750-feet tall. It was built in 1985.

(Reporting by New York Times)

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One Killed In Vehicle Accident, Injuring Over A Dozen Cadets Near U.S. Military Academy

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(Reuters) – At least two people were killed on Thursday morning in a vehicle accident involving more than a dozen cadets near the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, CBS News reported, citing unnamed sources.


The accident occurred in the vicinity of Camp Natural Bridge, a summer training site for cadets, the academy said on Twitter.

The report did not identify the dead or say if they were West Point cadets.

Representatives for the military academy could not be immediately reached for further comment.

At least 20 cadets were involved in the crash, which occurred around 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT) and at least one was airlifted to a hospital with serious injuries, NBC News reported.

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Missouri’s Only Abortion Clinic Will Remain Open, Judge Rules

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ST. LOUIS (AP) — A judge has issued an order allowing Missouri’s only abortion clinic to continue providing the service.


St. Louis Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer ruled Friday, just hours before the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic’s license to perform abortions was set to expire. He issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting Missouri from allowing the license to lapse.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services had declined to renew the license. It cited concerns with “failed abortions,” compromised patient safety and legal violations at the clinic. Agency officials also wanted to interview additional physicians at the clinic.

Planned Parenthood officials had said that if the license lapsed, Missouri would become the first state without an abortion clinic since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decision legalizing abortion nationwide.

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