While Obama is fiddling a bit with tribunals to make them a bit less unfair it is just fiddling. The tribunals are still do not provide the type of fairer trial one would get in a civilian court in the US or most countries. These are the same tribunals that Obama so roundly condemned during his election campaign. One wonders too how soon Guantanamo will close. Are these trials to be held there. Probably Khadr will be one of the inmates tried and his trial is actually set to resume in June.
This is from the Toronto Star.
May 15, 2009
WASHINGTON–President Barack Obama will restart Bush-era military tribunals for a small number of Guantanamo detainees, reviving a fiercely disputed trial system he once denounced but with new legal protections for suspects, U.S. officials said yesterday.
Obama suspended the tribunals within hours of taking office in January, ordering a review but stopping short of abandoning president George W. Bush's strategy of prosecuting suspected terrorists.
The military trials will remain frozen for another four months as the administration adjusts the legal system that is expected to try fewer than 20 of the 241 detainees at the U.S. naval detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Thirteen detainees – including five charged with helping orchestrate the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks – are already in the system.
The proceedings against Toronto-born Omar Khadr are to resume June 1. Khadr, 22, is accused of war crimes, including the murder of U.S. soldier during a firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002.
The changes to the system were to be announced today. Senior administration officials outlined some of the rule changes, which will be done by executive order, to The Associated Press last night. They 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, a form of simulated drowning.
- Giving detainees greater leeway in choosing their own military counsel.
Khadr's Canadian lawyer, Dennis Edney said was uncertain how the changes would effect his client.
"It's disappointing that Obama is going back to Guantanamo and using Guantanamo for military trials that have been condemned internationally and is not according with the rule of law," Edney told the Star's Dale Anne Freed.