White House Ends Ban On Military Trials At Guantanamo The policy establishes procedures for the handling of cases involving detainees who are not to be tried in either civilian or military courts but are still considered too dangerous to release. It reflects an acknowledgment by the administration that it will not be able to close the prison anytime soon. Host Robert Siegel talks to NPR's Dina Temple-Raston, who has the latest.
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Obama Ends Ban On Military Trials At Guantanamo

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Obama Ends Ban On Military Trials At Guantanamo

Obama Ends Ban On Military Trials At Guantanamo

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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reports that Mr. Obama's actions today set up a system that could keep Guantanamo operating for some time. And Dina joins now. And what exactly did the president do today?

DINA TEMPLE: So this is the first that the administration has addressed that last group directly.

SIEGEL: Well, let's take the three groups one at a time, and starting with military commissions. Those are the trials held at Guantanamo.

TEMPLE: So starting from today, we may start hearing about new cases in the military forum.

SIEGEL: Well, what about the cases that would be held in civilian courts?

TEMPLE: And the only detainee who was essentially grandfathered-in was Ahmed Ghailani who was detained for his role in the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings. And you'll recall he was charged with hundreds of counts of murder and conspiracy and ended up being convicted by a jury on just a single count of conspiracy. And in the end, he did get life in prison. But critics of federal trial saw that as too close to call.

SIEGEL: Which brings us to the especially problematic group - the detainees who don't seem to fit into either system.

TEMPLE: So that the idea is that detainees would have some recourse, they aren't just locked up and forgotten.

SIEGEL: So then what does this all mean, Dina, for the idea of Guantanamo closing?

TEMPLE: Well, you know, administration officials still say the president is still committed to closing Guantanamo Bay. But, you know, on some level, what happened today is recognition that that's still quite a long ways off.

SIEGEL: Okay. Thank you, Dina.

TEMPLE: You're welcome.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Dina Temple-Raston.

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