Guantánamo

Pentagon won’t say why war court overseer was fired, but he’s not under investigation

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis readies his papers as he takes his seat for a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018 in Washington, D.C.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis readies his papers as he takes his seat for a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018 in Washington, D.C. Associated Press

The Pentagon for a second straight day declined to explain why Defense Secretary Jim Mattis fired his Guantánamo war court overseer of 10 months but said there was no investigation related to the abrupt departures.

Military Commissions Convening Authority Harvey Rishikof and his legal adviser Gary Brown were removed on Monday from their Virginia-based jobs, which have oversight of the war crimes trials of the alleged plotters of the Sept. 11 terror attacks and others. The two men were replaced, in acting capacities, by three veteran Department of Defense lawyers.

The Pentagon “does not discuss personnel actions,” Department of Defense spokesman Tom Crosson said Tuesday. “However, I can confirm that the Department has not initiated nor is it aware of any investigation involving Mr. Rishikof or Mr. Brown.”

Rishikof has so far declined to comment on the firings. The Herald has been unable to reach Brown.

Crosson also said there was no immediate word on whether there were candidates to fill the positions.

RELATED: Secretary of Defense fires Guantánamo war court overseer

Meantime, a 37-year career Department of Defense lawyer, retired Army Col. Jim Coyne, is acting convening authority while handling his full-time job as general counsel of the Defense Logistics Agency.

Coyne got his law degree from the University of the Pacific in 1980, a year before he joined the Army’s Judge Advocate General service. Upon his retirement in 2008, he went straight to work for the Pentagon’s Africa Command, according to his LinkedIn page, then returned to the Washington, D.C., area in 2010 to join the Defense Logistics Agency, a self-described combat support agency based at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

Carol Rosenberg: 305-376-3179, @carolrosenberg

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