* Marine Maj. Michael Mori, 38, often referred to within the team as simply "the Marine." His colleagues suggest that the fiery and determined Mori is attacking the tribunal system much the way other Marines attack enemy beachheads.
His client, Australian David Hicks, is accused of attempted murder, aiding the enemy and conspiracy to commit war crimes. He allegedly attended Al Qaeda terror camps in Afghanistan and fought against coalition troops.
* Swift, 42, representing Hamdan. A Naval Academy graduate and perhaps the boldest of the defense lawyers, Swift earlier this month named Bush, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the head of the Office of Military Commissions, John D. Altenburg Jr., in the Seattle lawsuit.
Swift's challenge to some of the most powerful figures in the government may be in part because as he sees it, Hamdan is among the lowliest of the defendants.
When Swift interviewed him at Guantanamo, Hamdan had been in custody for more than two years -- most of the time with no charges filed against him -- and had been in isolation for several months. His client had trouble talking, Swift said; he was out of practice.
Although dubbed "Osama bin Laden's chauffeur" by the government, Hamdan told Swift, "I never joined Al Qaeda. I am not in the military. I was just a civilian doing my job. What am I doing here?"
Prosecuting Hamdan, Swift said, was like indicting Martha Stewart's chauffeur for insider trading.
The last time the American government resorted to military commissions was in 1942, when eight Nazi saboteurs were caught on the East Coast during the early months of U.S. entry into World War II. Brought before military tribunals, six were sentenced to death and executed within days of conviction, while the other two received long prison terms.
To Swift and his team, Bush's revival of commissions by executive order in November 2001 looks like another wartime rush to justice.
"We're going back and trying to use a standard of justice that was created at a time when society recognized the appropriateness of segregation," Mori said. "We've evolved too far" to go back to that, he said.
Defense lawyers note that when the 1942 tribunals were convened, the Geneva Convention did not exist and the Defense Department had not developed the Uniform Code of Military Justice that was created to address shortcomings in the old system.
Bush asserted the right to establish the commissions and to choose which defendants would be tried before them, as well as the right to pick prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges for such trials.
Moreover, administration officials said, no court outside of the military would be allowed to review a military commission's decisions -- a position the Supreme Court struck down last week.
In challenging the tribunals, defense lawyers are expected to focus on a broad array of rules and decisions that could deny their clients protections normally available to defendants. Among them are the detainees' lack of prisoner-of-war status, which cuts them off from the protections of the Geneva Convention.
The lawyers may also challenge rules of evidence that allow a majority of the commission to overrule the presiding officer (there is no judge), secrecy regulations that can deny defendants access to the evidence against them, and a rule forbidding plea bargains and the dropping of charges without permission from the authority that approved the charges in the first place -- "like letting the pitcher call balls and strikes," Mori said.
Said the defense team's Gunn:
"I always had this notion and this belief that it is entirely possible that there are people at Guantanamo that shouldn't be there. They're people that are caught up that were at the wrong place at the wrong time.
"Even though we have a nation that's hurting." he said, "if they are in fact not the terrorists that they are claimed to be, then let that come out."