Guantánamo

Marine lawyer chosen as chief Guantánamo war court defense counsel

The American flag flies at half-staff at the military commissions at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on Sept. 11, 2008.
The American flag flies at half-staff at the military commissions at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on Sept. 11, 2008. THE MIAMI HERALD

President Barack Obama has chosen a U.S. Marine Corps lawyer for promotion to brigadier general and chief defense counsel at the Guantánamo war court.

The Pentagon notified Congress about the proposed appointment of Marine Col. John G. Baker last week.

The military began looking for a one-star officer to supervise the military and civilian defense lawyers assigned to cases of captives awaiting war crimes trial at Guantánamo after legislation last year required parity in the position with the chief war crimes prosecutor, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins.

Baker got his law degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1997, according to his official biography, and currently works on the staff of the Marine commandant’s legal office. Before that he was Chief Defense Counsel of the Marine Corps.

The job is based in the Washington, D.C., area but requires travel to the remote outpost in Cuba where the Pentagon holds 122 captives, six awaiting trial in death-penalty cases. In 2006 and 2007 Baker prosecuted several Marines at Camp Pendleton, Calif., for the kidnapping and killing of an Iraqi man in Hamdaniya.

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