Prosecutors were ordered Tuesday to draft warrants permitting U.S. Marshals to seize two civilian defense attorneys who left the USS Cole terrorism case and have refused to comply with a subpoena from the judge who is presiding over the case.
The judge, Air Force Col. Vance Spath, said he was prepared to sign the “writs of attachment” on Wednesday and advised the lawyer for civilian attorneys Rosa Eliades and Mary Spears to move quickly in order to prevent warrants from being issued.
Eliades and Spears quit the case in the fall due to an ethical issue concerning intrusion of attorney-client confidentiality and were released by Marine Brig. Gen. John Baker, the chief defense counsel.
Spath does not recognize the intrusion of attorney-client privilege and found Baker in contempt of the court after Baker declined to withdraw his permission to release the lawyers, according to the Miami Herald. As a result, Spath sentenced Baker to 21 days of confinement in November.
However, Spath on Tuesday was hesitant for the lawyers to be seized because it could mean their security clearances and jobs at the Department of Defense would be lost and would jeopardize the possibility of them returning to Abd al Rahim al Nashiri’s defense team.
Al Nashiri is a former CIA prisoner who has been accused of planning the attack on the USS Cole in 2000 and is awaiting a death penalty trial.
Spath had instructed prosecutors to deliver subpoenas to Eliades and Spears to force them to make an appearance at the Military Commissions headquarters in Virginia on Tuesday to provide an explanation for their position.
In response, the women’s lawyer filed a motion to rescind the order since they had been removed from the case. However, Spath denied the request and also rejected previous attempts to nullify the subpoenas.
Both did not make an appearance on Tuesday.
Spath deemed Baker’s choice to remove them “null and void” and claimed on Tuesday that their attendance had been requested so they can share their reasoning for quitting.