U.S. Government Will Resume Shady Tribunals of Guantanamo Detainees

Guantanamo has proven to be one of the more disappointing issues of the Obama presidency. During his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama vowed to close the controversial prison and criticized the shady, illegal tribunals of Guantanamo prisoners that took place during the Bush administration. On Obama's first day in office, Defense Secretary Robert Gates imposed a ban on those tribunals and the president started pushing an effort to revamp the tribunal system for some prisoners and bring others to the United States to stand trial before civilian juries. But now, two years to the day since Obama was sworn in, Guantanamo remains open, and the New York Timesreports that the tribunal ban will soon be lifted.

The Times:

[L]ast month, Congress made it much harder to move Guantánamo detainees into the United States, even for trials in federal civilian courthouses. That essentially shut the door for now on the administration’s proposal to transfer inmates to a prison in Illinois and its desire to prosecute some of them in regular court.

Once the ban is lifted, tribunals could start again very soon:

Charges would probably then come within weeks against one or more detainees who have already been designated by the Justice Department for prosecution before a military commission, including Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi accused of planning the 2000 bombing of the American destroyer Cole in Yemen; Ahmed al-Darbi, a Saudi accused of plotting, in an operation that never came to fruition, to attack oil tankers in the Straits of Hormuz; and Obaydullah, an Afghan accused of concealing bombs.

Many human rights and legal experts are understandably appalled by this development. Bill Bowring, professor of international human rights law at the University of London's Birkbeck College, told Radio Free Europe that the situation is "outrageous," adding, "Obama has simply not been able to stand up to the interest groups, and I don't think it's Congress particularly. I think it's the military, in particular, and the security establishment. So it's extremely disappointing, particularly for those in the United States who campaigned so hard for him."

Meanwhile, just days ago, a federal appeals court denied an ACLU Freedom of Information Act request to obtain transcripts of statements made by Guantanamo prisoners that describe abuse and torture they suffered in CIA custody.

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at January 20, 2011, 6:45am

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