Obama to Restart Gitmo Tribunals
But this time, suspects will have more rights, legal protections
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 15, 2009 6:21 AM CDT
In this photo, reviewed by the US military, Guantanamo detainees pray before dawn near a fence of razor-wire, inside Camp 4 detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Thursday, May 14, 2009.    (Brennan Linsley)
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(Newser) – President Obama will restart military tribunals for a small number of Guantanamo detainees—reviving a trial system he once said the Bush administration had abused—but with new legal protections for terror suspects, officials said. The trials will remain frozen for another 4 months as the administration adjusts the legal system that is expected to try fewer than 20 of the 241 Guantanamo detainees; 13 are already in the tribunal system.

Two senior administration officials said changes include:

  • Restrictions on hearsay evidence that can be used in court against the detainees.
  • A ban on all evidence obtained through cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. This would include statements given from detainees who were subjected to waterboarding.
  • Giving detainees greater leeway in choosing their own military counsel.
  • Protecting detainees who refuse to testify from legal sanctions or other court prejudices.