The tribunal system for detainees in Guantanamo Bay was dealt another major blow today, as a military judges dropped all charges against two men held by the United States. The reason, the judges ruled, was that they lacked jurisdiction over the men.

The two men, Canadian Omar Khadr, and Yemeni Salim Ahmed Hamdan, were classified as “enemy combatants” when they were assessed by the Bush Administration. However, the tribunal system only has jurisdiction over “unlawful enemy combatants.”

This development raises obvious problems for prosecutors, because all of Guantanamo’s detainees awaiting trial are classified merely as “enemy combatants” in the pending cases.

Marin Col Dwight Sullivan, who is the chief defense lawyer for the trials, told Reuters that “This system should just stop,” going so far as to call it a “failure.”

The ruling does not demand that the men be released, and raises the possibility of appeal in at least one of the cases (though there is not established appellate process for the tribunals). Bush administration lawyers may have to begin reclassifying detainees as “unlawful” to try them in the tribunals.

This is the second incarnation of the Guantanamo tribunal system. It was created by Congress last year following a Supreme Court decision ruling the previous system unconstitutional.

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