On Monday, President Obama announced that prosecution of alleged terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay would resume after a two-year suspension.
The President issued an official statement saying that the changes in policy will “broaden our ability to bring terrorists to justice, provide oversight for our actions, and ensure the humane treatment of detainees.”
The new system will focus on four key points: the resumption of military commissions, periodic executive reviews, use of Article III (civilian federal) courts, and support for international legal framework.
A White House press release stated that the “Administration remains committed to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, and to maintain a lawful, sustainable, and principled regime for the handling of detainees there.”
The decision has been criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union, which claims that the Obama administration has “chosen to institutionalize unlawful indefinite detention – creating a troubling ‘new normal’ – and to revive the illegitimate Guantanamo military commissions.”
Congress has opposed the prosecution of military prisoners and terror suspects through the federal court system, but the White House insists there are cases where “Federal courts are a more appropriate forum [than military tribunals] for trying particular individuals.”
This opposition to the use of federal courts is partly due to the highly criticized outcome of the first civilian trial of a Guantanamo detainee, who was convicted on only one of the 280 charges from his alleged involvement in the Al Qaeda bombings of two U.S. embassies.
The President defended the use of Article III courts, saying “I strongly believe that the American system of justice is a key part of our arsenal in the war against al Qaeda and its affiliates, and we will continue to draw on all aspects of our justice system…to ensure that our security and our values are strengthened.”
The Guantanamo Bay detention facility has drawn considerable criticism since its establishment following the Sept. 11 attacks, and allegations of prisoner mistreatment and inhumane practices led to the initial suspension of prisoner prosecution.
CNN Wire Staff “Obama orders resumption of military commissions at Guantanamo” CNN.com
“GOP Praises Obama’s Decision to Bring Back Military Tribunals at Guantanamo Bay” FoxNews.com
Lolita C. Baldor “Obama restarts Guantanamo trials after 2 years” msnbc.com
Barack Obama “New Actions on Guantanamo Bay and Detainee Policy” whitehouse.gov
Office of the Press Secretary “Fact Sheet: New Actions on Guantanamo and Detainee Policy” whitehouse.gov
“New Military Trials at Guantanamo Bay Could Include 9/11 Suspects” FoxNews.com