Barack Obama is leaning towards reinstituting military commissions as a way of trying Guantanamo detainees, and could begin publicly doing so as soon as next week, officials tell the New York Times. Obama has been a staunch critic of the system, but the administration is increasingly worried about the hazards of trying the detainees in federal courts.
Administration lawyers fear judges could make it hard to prosecute suspects who have been tortured or abused, or block hearsay evidence from intelligence officials. “The more they look at it, the commissions don’t look as bad as they did on Jan. 20,” one official says. Obama would modify the system to provide more protections for the defendants, but human rights advocates aren’t pleased. “The administration is making a huge mistake,” says the director of one group.