Thursday, January 20, 2011
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Obama administration to move forward with military tribunals at GitmoTop story: The Obama administration is planning to lift the ban on new military tribunal cases against detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The order amounts to an implicit admission that Congress has stalled its attempts to try detainees in the federal court system.
The White House is currently preparing new regulations for conducting the tribunals, as well as creating a new board that would determine if the nearly 50 detainees held without trial could be paroled.
The resumption of military tribunals would clear the way for three detainees to be prosecuted within weeks. The most controversial of those three is Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who allegedly planned the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen in 2007, which killed 17 Americans. Nashiri was held at a secret CIA prison, where interrogators used methods that exceeded even the George W. Bush administration's approved "enhanced interrogation techniques." Nashiri's lawyer contends that the reason he hasn't been charged in a civilian court is due to the government's fear that its evidence would be dismissed because it would obtained through torture.
The military commissions will also be called on to determine when a state of war first existed between the United States and al Qaeda. Since the U.S.S. Cole bombing occurred in 2000, before the 9/11 attacks, the question remains whether the tribunal has jurisdiction over the crime.
Obama and Hu confer on human rights: During Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit to Washington, President Obama noted that differences over human rights were an "occasional source of tension" between the two countries. Hu admitted that "a lot still needs to be done in China in terms of human rights," but insisted that the United States refrain from interfering in China's internal affairs.