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AOL News: Obama Restarts Guantanamo Trials


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WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama approved Monday the resumption of military trials for detainees at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, ending a two-year ban.

It was the latest acknowledgement that the detention facility Obama had vowed to shut down within a year of taking office will remain open for some time to come. But even while announcing a resumption of military commission trials, Obama reaffirmed his support for trying terror suspects in U.S. federal courts - something that's met vehement resistance on Capitol Hill.

On Monday, President Barack Obama approved the resumption of military trials for detainees at the prison.

"I strongly believe that the American system of justice is a key part of our arsenal in the war against al-Qaida and its affiliates, and we will continue to draw on all aspects of our justice system - including Article III courts - to ensure that our security and our values are strengthened," the president said in a statement.

The White House also reiterated that the administration remains committed to eventually closing Guantanamo Bay, though Monday's actions didn't seem to bring that outcome any closer.

Under Obama's order, Defense Secretary Robert Gates will rescind his January 2009 ban against bringing new cases against the terror suspects at the detention facility.

The first trial likely to proceed under Obama's new order would involve Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. Al-Nashiri, a Saudi of Yemeni descent, has been imprisoned at Guantanamo since 2006.

Closure of the facility has become untenable because of questions about where terror suspects would be held. Lawmakers object to their transfer to U.S. federal courts, and Gates recently told lawmakers that it has become very difficult to release detainees to other countries because Congress has made that process more complicated.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., said he was pleased with Obama's decision to restart the military commissions. But he said the administration must work with Congress to create a trial system that will stand up to judicial review.

A sweeping defense bill Obama signed in January blocked the use of Defense Department dollars to transfer Guantanamo suspects to U.S. soil for trial. The White House said Monday it would work to overturn that prohibition.

Reality bites.

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A sweeping defense bill Obama signed in January blocked the use of Defense Department dollars to transfer Guantanamo suspects to U.S. soil for trial. The White House said Monday it would work to overturn that prohibition.

Dunno why we'd have to move them here to have a trial.

I don't have a problem with Gitmo, the location. I have a problem with Gitmo, the claim that the Constitution doesn't apply there.

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Dunno why we'd have to move them here to have a trial.

I don't have a problem with Gitmo, the location. I have a problem with Gitmo, the claim that the Constitution doesn't apply there.

Does it even apply when the combatants are charged with terrorism or war crimes? Serious question, I don't know the answer myself

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  • 3 months later...

The more things change....


Mr. Graham said the administration’s policy is creating “a nation without a jail” for terrorism suspects.

“So what do they do? They put this guy on a ship,” Mr. Graham said in The Times’ “Newsmaker” interview. “And he’s got to be smart enough to know they can’t keep me on this ship forever. And because you don’t want to hold people at Gitmo … you’re going to basically be pushing people into criminal court, cases that shouldn’t be in criminal court.”

Adm. William McRaven, leader of the military’s secretive Joint Special Operations Command, recently told Mr. Graham in a Senate hearing that the length of time the military could hold a terror suspect on a ship “depends on whether or not we think we can prosecute that individual in a U.S. court or we can return him to a third party country.”

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Disagreed with his desire to close Gitmo. Seemed a move based on PR than anything else. Agree with the resumption of trials. I don't mind if the trials are military or civilian to be honest, but the prisoners deserve some form of due process.

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It definitely reeks of campaigning. He could have shut Gitmo down within weeks of his inauguration if he had really desired it.

Fwiw, the president tried to shut down Gitmo within weeks of his inaguration....but it was blocked by congress.

I'll post some links in a moment.

---------- Post added July-7th-2011 at 12:47 PM ----------


Democrats in Senate Block Money to Close Guantánamo

In an abrupt shift, Senate Democratic leaders said they would not provide the $80 million that President Obama requested to close the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The move escalates pressure on the president, who on Thursday is scheduled to outline his plans for the 240 terrorism suspects still held there.

In recent days, Mr. Obama has faced growing demands from both parties, but particularly Republicans, to lay out a more detailed road map for closing the Guantánamo prison and to provide assurances that detainees would not end up on American soil, even in maximum security prisons.

The move by Senate Democrats to strip the $80 million from a war-spending bill and the decision to bar, for now, transfer of detainees to the United States, raised the possibility that Mr. Obama’s order to close the camp by Jan. 22, 2010, might have to be changed or delayed.


House Panel Deals Gitmo Closure a Major Setback

The Obama administration’s longstanding pledge to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay just hit a major obstacle in the House, creating doubts over whether the detention facility can be closed this year — if at all.

Last night the House Armed Services Committee finished this year’s bill authorizing $567 billion worth of defense spending and another $159 billion for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars for the fiscal year beginning in October. Following an administration budget plan announced in February by Pentagon comptroller Robert Hale, the Afghanistan war request contained a vague provision — indeed, not even carrying the words “Guantanamo Bay” — called a “transfer fund” to authorize the purchase of the Thomson Correction Center in Illinois. The administration wants to buy Thomson in order to have a secure facility on U.S. soil to house those Guantanamo detainees it designates for military commissions or indefinite detention without charge. Once the federal government buys Thomson, it can shut down Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay.

[security1] Or that was the plan. The actual bill hasn’t been released yet. But buried at the bottom of an extensive summary the committee released last night is an express prohibition on the use of any Defense Department money to buy a new detention facility. According to the bill summary, the bill now requires Defense Secretary Robert Gates to give Congress a report that “adequately justifies any proposal to build or modify such a facility” if it wants to move forward with any post-Guantanamo detention plan.

“The Committee firmly believes that the construction or modification of any facility in the U.S. to detain or imprison individuals currently being held at Guantanamo must be accompanied by a thorough and comprehensive plan that outlines the merits, costs, and risks associated with utilizing such a facility,” the summary text read. “No such plan has been presented to date. The bill prohibits the use of any funds for this purpose.”

That might place insurmountable obstacles to the the so-called “Gitmo North” plan to transfer Guantanamo detainees to Thomson. “They can’t just create Guantanamo North and move everyone up there. That’s clearly barred,” said Chris Anders, a senior lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union who monitored yesterday’s mark-up. “It doesn’t mean that the proposal is dead, but it’s hard to see how it makes a comeback after the House Armed Services Committee says there can’t be money spent on Thomson.


Senate blocks transfer of Gitmo detainees

Meanwhile, federal judge says U.S. can hold detainees indefinitely

In a rare, bipartisan defeat for President Barack Obama, the Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to keep the prison at Guantanamo Bay open for the foreseeable future and forbid the transfer of any detainees to facilities in the United States.

Democrats lined up with Republicans in the 90-6 vote that came on the heels of a similar move a week ago in the House, underscoring widespread apprehension among Obama's congressional allies over voters' strong feelings about bringing detainees to the U.S. from the prison in Cuba.

The president readied a speech for Thursday on the U.S. fight against terrorism, at a time when liberals have chafed at some of his decisions.

Meanwhile, an Obama administration official said that the administration plans to announce Thursday that a top al-Qaida suspect held at Guantanamo Bay will be sent to New York for trial.

Ahmed Ghailani would be the first Guantanamo detainee brought to the U.S., and the first to face trial in a civilian criminal court.

Obama has vowed to close the prison by January 2010, and the Senate's vote was not the final word on the matter. It will be next month at the earliest before Congress completes work on the legislation, giving the White House time pursue a compromise that would allow the president to fulfill his pledge.

But Obama's maneuvering room was further constrained during the day when FBI Director Robert Mueller told a congressional panel that he had concerns about bringing Guantanamo Bay detainees to prisons in the United States. Among the risks is "the potential for individuals undertaking attacks in the United States," said Mueller, who was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2001 and is serving a 10-year fixed term in office.


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