President Obama gave a green light Monday to resuming military trials for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, at the same time he repeated his backing for trying terror suspects in U.S. federal courts.
Obama said he ordered lifting of an order that had suspended filing of new charges in military tribunals at Guantanamo, according to a Reuters article. He had imposed a suspension of these charges and announced a review of detainee policy in early 2009.
The president also said in a White House statement: “I strongly believe that the American system of justice is a key part of our arsenal in the war against al Qaeda 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.”
Last year, Congress moved to block the Obama administration’s ability to shift terrorism suspects from Guantanamo to the United States for trial. The White House said it will try to get the prohibition repealed, the Los Angeles Times reported.
New procedures for “the reworked tribunals will include a ban on the use of statements taken as a result of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and a revamped system for handling classified information,” the Times article said.
The White House said Obama still was committed to closing the Guantanamo Bay prison. Initially, he had pledged to close it within a year after taking office, a Washington Post article said.
There has been a protracted, and heated, debate over trying accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four co-defendants in civilian courts versus military tribunals, and about how to handle terror detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. An initial plan to try Mohammed in New York was scuttled after it prompted a firestorm of criticism.
You can learn more about the recent debate by checking out Gavel Grab.