In the end, Khadr's military commissions hearing lasted 29 minutes, long enough for two former federal prosecutors from Washington, D.C., to go on record with the Canadian captive's lawyers. Barry Coburn and Kobie Flowers said they would defend Khadr, if Attorney General Eric Holder decides the Pentagon should proceed with a war crimes trial that seeks life in prison for the Canadian who was captured at age 15 in a July 2002 firefight that that fatally wounded a Special Forces soldier.
Khadr has grown into adulthood behind the razor wire here and has fired a succession of free-of-charge lawyers. Coburn, his 10th attorney in five years, vowed "to explore every option short of a trial'' to send him home.
Department of Justice attorneys are looking at the Bush administration era prosecutions and will decide by Nov. 16 whether to move them to federal courts.
If they opt for a civilian trial, Khadr would be tried in Washington, D.C., said Navy Capt. John Murphy, the Pentagon prosecutor.
No one has said where the White House might move the Pentagon's 9/11 war crimes tribunal now in pretrial hearings here. But Holder and the Defense Secretary Gates are also to decide by mid-November whether to bring alleged al Qaeda kingpin Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four fellow accused to a civilian courts near New York City or Washington.
An emerging timetable would likely mobilize military juries to hear cases early next year -- after the president's deadline for closure has passed.
"It presents more of a challenge than if everyone's [in] lockstep in the whole government,'' Copeman said. ``We've got lots of uncertainty about the place, but we're getting by.''
"Getting by'' means putting more troops into the pipeline to patrol the prison camps.
It also means "doing some prudent and logical planning'' to surge the guard force into the camps in case riots break out early next year, said Copeman -- if the detainees despair on learning that the prison camps aren't closing on time, or come to realize that they are not going home.
The contingency plan will seek no extra guards here but might lengthen Military Police shifts, if commanders want a bigger show of force in the seven camps that house the 223 foreign men, most of whom have been held without charge for nearly eight years.
About 200 soldiers, MPs from the Rhode Island National Guard, are already in Fort Lewis, Wash., retooling combat skills acquired in Iraq for policing skills at Camp Delta, the sprawling barbed-wire ringed prison camp compound overlooking the Caribbean.
"Many of them have deployed four or five times,'' said Army Lt. Col. Bruce Fletcher from Rhode Island.
Also en route, to take over in December, is a Virgin Islands National Guard unit headed by an Anguilla native, Army Brig. Gen. Timothy L. Lake, who will join Copeman in the command staff overseeing the 2,100 troops, intelligence agents and civilian contractors who run the prison camps for $100 million a year.
The fixed costs, Copeman said, do not decrease even as the State Department finds nations to resettle men cleared for release.
"If you have one guy in the cellblock or you got 20 guys in the cellblock you still gotta have the AC and the power and guards, and a hut for the guards to live in and you got to feed them,'' the admiral said.
Eighteen detainees have left since Obama signed the Executive Order -- on his first full day in office -- instructing his government to close it and move detainees to U.S. soil, if need be. One committed suicide in June, and was sent home for burial in his native Yemen. Another was sent to New York for trial as a co-conspirator in the 1998 East Africa bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, transferred before Congress began restricting the administration's hand.
Others were sent to new lives in Bermuda, Ireland and Portugal in deals struck by the State Department.
Ambassador Daniel Fried, the special White House envoy, has been shuttling mostly to Europe to persuade friendly nations to resettle and absorb long-held, now cleared captives who can't go home to places like China, Syria and Uzbekistan for fear of religious persecution.
Six Muslim Uighurs could go to the Pacific Island nation of Palau later this month.