America

White House: Military Commissions To Resume At Guantanamo

The White House just announced that military commissions will again be hearing cases brought against detainees at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

As NPR's Carrie Johnson reported in late January, this decision was expected. And, she noted:

"Moving forward with military tribunals against some Guantanamo detainees has always been part of the White House plan. President Obama said in a May 2009 speech at the National Archives that he'd use both military commissions and civilian courts. But the civilian court plan has fallen by the wayside for now, putting all the attention on the military justice system."

In announcing the decision, the White House included this statement from the president:

"From the beginning of my administration, the United States has worked to bring terrorists to justice consistent with our commitment to protect the American people and uphold our values. Today, I am announcing several steps that broaden our ability to bring terrorists to justice, provide oversight for our actions, and ensure the humane treatment of detainees.

"I strongly believe that the American system of justice is a key part of our arsenal in the war against al-Qaida and its affiliates, and we will continue to draw on all aspects of our justice system — including Article III Courts — to ensure that our security and our values are strengthened. Going forward, all branches of government have a responsibility to come together to forge a strong and durable approach to defend our nation and the values that define who we are as a nation."

Also today, the White House restated the president's position that some of those suspected terrorists at Guantanamo "must continue to be detained" even though they have not been charged because they "in effect, remain at war with the United States." For those cases, an executive order has been issued establishing a "periodic review" process that aims to "help to ensure that individuals who we have determined will be subject to long-term detention continue to be detained only when lawful and necessary to protect against a significant threat to the security of the United States."

Here's that executive order (click on "fullscreen" to make it more readable):

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