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military commissions, Guantanamo, detainee trials


President Obama has announced that the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay will be closed by January 22, 2010. He has also said that at least some of the detainees facing criminal prosecution will be tried in military commissions. The system of military commissions established by President Bush after the 9/11 attacks, as well as the one which Congress enacted in 2006 following the Supreme Court’s Hamdan decision, were widely criticized as being unproductive and not meeting international legal standards. The Congress has, very recently, revised the rules and procedures for military commissions to make them fair, effective and much more like those used for courts-martial. This article compares and contrasts trials in revised military commissions with trials in federal district courts. It concludes that a combination of both forums would best serve the President, and that military commissions are still a prudent option for prosecuting some detainees where there are security and admissibility of evidence concerns.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Military courts, Guantánamo Bay (Cuba), Detention of persons--United States