Obama to Revive Gitmo Military Tribunals

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2009 10:02 AM CDT
A Navy officer switches the official photo of George W. Bush with one of newly sworn-in President Barack Obama in the lobby of the Guantanamo Bay Navy station.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, FILE)
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(Newser) – The Obama administration will reinstate the military tribunal system for trying Guantanamo Bay detainees, after moving the proceedings onto American soil and instituting several changes, including barring evidence obtained by techniques like waterboarding, officials tell the Washington Post. Human rights groups had hoped Obama’s 120-day suspension of the tribunals, which runs out May 20, signaled their doom. But Obama will instead ask for a 90-day extension of the suspension, allowing him to give Congress the required 60-day notice of rule changes.

New rules would bar evidence obtained using harsh interrogation methods,  limit the admissibility of hearsay evidence, and give detainees more leeway to choose their own lawyers. But human rights advocates still aren’t pleased. “This is an extraordinary development," said an Amnesty International counterterrorism specialist, “and it’s going to tarnish the image of American justice again.” There's still a chance the administration will reverse course; one source said Obama hasn't yet approved the plan.