Obama to Reinstate Military Commission Trials in Guantanamo

May 15, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
For a small number of detainees held at the naval base at Guantanamo, a change in the way Obama administration will handle military tribunals will directly impact their futures. A system once deemed flawed by the president will be adjusted, allowing for new legal protections for terror suspects.White House sources tell ABC news; President Obama will reinstate the controversial military commission trials for the more than 200 detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay.

The military tribunal system for detainees was put in place by the bush administration after 911.

Mr. Obama had previously criticized President Bush's use of the trials and shortly after he became president, he suspended them. This new president has changed many Bush-era national security policies, arguing some decisions made by the past administration were not consistent with American ideals. "We're not going to continue the false choice between safety and our ideals."

Obama's decision will draw scrutiny among human rights groups and some in his base. But it's a thorny issue because without military commission, terror suspects and detainees might have to be tried in U.S. courts.

Republicans claim that would put the country at risk and Guantanamo Bay is the best place to hold detainees. "The facility is a $200 million state-of-the-art prison. No one has ever escaped. Best of all, it is located hundreds of miles away from American communities," said Senator John Thune (R) South Dakota.

Obama restarts the tribunals with more rights for defendants including: banning evidence obtained through "cruel, inhuman, or degrading" interrogation techniques and adding additional restrictions on the admissibility of hearsay evidence.

The detainees who will not be tried by military commissions will be released and tried by civilian prosecutors, or transferred to other nations.

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