The president has picked a Marine to be the next supervisor for defense attorneys representing inmates at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Col. John Baker was nominated June 4 for promotion to brigadier general and to be the chief defense counsel for Military Commissions, an Alexandria, Virginia-based position that entails oversight of defense counsel at the Cuban prison camp. Baker currently serves as the deputy director of the Headquarters Marine Corps Judge Advocate Division at the Pentagon. His nomination was first reported by the Miami Herald.
If confirmed, Baker would replace Air Force Col. Karen Mayberry, who has held the position since July 2012. He would be the first one-star general to hold the position, a move designed to put the chief defense counsel on equal standing with the chief prosecutor for military commissions. That e job has been held by Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins since June 2011.
The parity issue was highlighted last year in the trial of Abd Aal Rahm Rahim Hussayn Muhammad Aal Nasidri Nashiri, an allegedly a terrorist mastermind behind the 2000 bombing of the USS destroyer Cole and other attacks. Defense attorneys in the case asked that Martins be disqualified as chief prosecutor due to a statutory requirement that he and the chief defense counsel serve in the same pay grade, according to released documents from the case. In response, a joint selection board convened to select a new candidate for the post.
Baker previously served as chief defense counsel for the Marine Corps and regional defense counsel for the Marine Corps' Eastern Region. As chief defense counsel, he helped to oversee a significant overhaul of the Corps' defense counsel system and the creation of the Defense Services Organization. Baker has also served as military judge, prosecutor and defense attorney.
According to the court document, the new chief defense counsel for Military Commissions is slated to assume the post in August.