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Terrorism & Security

Obama to relaunch military tribunals for terror suspects

Some Guantánamo detainees – with new legal protections for statements made under interrogation – will be tried.

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The Journal adds that the Obama administration is considering further modifications to the tribunal system, and is expected to ask military judges to stay the tribunals of nine detainees who are currently charged for another 120 days, in order to work with Congress on implementing those changes.

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CNN writes that the changes are not likely to satisfy critics of the tribunals, who were already unhappy with the Obama administration's decision yesterday not to release new photos of detainees being abused while in US custody. CNN notes that Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, has already attacked the idea of modifications to the system as "fatally flawed."

"The military commissions are built on unconstitutional premises and designed to ensure convictions, not provide fair trials," Romero said in a prepared statement released earlier this week after speculation about the restart of military tribunals surfaced. "Reducing some but not all of the flaws of the tribunals so that they are 'less offensive' is not acceptable; there is no such thing as 'due process light.' "
Two of the administration officials said the president will also leave open the option of starting civilian trials on U.S. soil for some of the detainees. But that, too, is a fiercely debated issue on Capitol Hill because of concerns by lawmakers in both parties about where the terror suspects will be kept during such trials.

The Daily Telegraph cites similar criticism from Human Rights Watch counterterrorism adviser Stacy Sullivan, who said that "reviving the military commissions would strip much of the meaning from closing Guantánamo." But the Telegraph adds that Republicans, who criticized Obama's decision to halt the tribunals, have welcomed the changes.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham applauded the decision to revamp the tribunals as a step toward strengthening policies that have been derided worldwide.
"I continue to believe it is in our own national security interests to separate ourselves from the past problems of Guantanamo," said Sen Graham. "I agree with the president and our military commanders that now is the time to start over and strengthen our detention policies. I applaud the president's actions today."
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