“Mark Martins is one of the finest and smartest officers in the U.S. military,” said Jeh Johnson, general counsel at the Defense Department. “I urged his appointment because Mark was involved in the reforms we developed in 2009, and I knew he would bring the right sense of military justice and care for the credibility of the system.”
Martins, 51, grew up in the military, the son of an Army neurosurgeon who became the head of neurosurgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. After a year at the University of Maryland, Martins was admitted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated at the top of the Class of 1983. He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and went to Oxford University, where he studied politics, philosophy and economics from 1983 to 1985.
More than a decade after 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four accused co-conspirators face formal charges at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba that include murder and terrorism for the attacks.
Author Josh Meyer discusses the search for the self-proclaimed architect of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Journalists and relatives of Sept. 11 victims are preparing to attend the arraignment hearing of Mohammed and four other Guantanamo Bay prisoners at the U.S. base in Cuba. (Apr 30.)
After a couple of years in the infantry and study at Harvard Law School, Martins rose through the ranks.
He served as trial counsel at Fort Campbell, Ky., where he was assigned to a battalion of the 101st Airborne Division — at the time commanded by a lieutenant colonel by the name of David H. Petraeus. The two have remained close since, and Martins served with Petraeus, who is now director of the CIA, in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In a statement, Petraeus described Martins as a “true national asset” and a “once-in-a-generation officer.”
After returning to Washington, Martins served on an interagency task force created by President Obama to look at future policy and helped draft the Military Commissions Act of 2009. In August 2009, he went to Afghanistan, where he was deputy commander of a joint task force running detention operations.
“I’ve worked a lot of detention policy,” said Martins, noting that when his superiors offered him the Guantanamo position, “I could not parry the idea that I was well prepared for this.”
Martins’s role as chief prosecutor at Guantanamo will be his last military assignment. He would almost certainly have been promoted to a two-star position next year, but he said that leaving before the major trials at Guantanamo were over would be disruptive.
“To place myself beyond suspicion of self-advancing motives and to offer continuity to the prosecution team through at least the end of 2014,” he announced at Harvard, “I have recently requested . . . that I not be considered for promotion.”