President Obama To Revive Flawed Military Commissions

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Matthew Allee, (202) 580-6922 or mallee@constitutionproject.org

President Obama To Revive Flawed Military Commissions

Changes to improve due process protections not enough

WASHINGTON - News accounts indicate that President Obama will announce today his
intent to restart the military commissions for some number of suspected
terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay. The commission proceedings were
an affront to our nation's ideals of justice and due process. A
decision by President Obama to revive them, even with enhanced due
process protections for the detainees, will surely be controversial in
this nation and throughout the world.
 
"It is troubling that
President Obama has apparently chosen to revive the flawed military
commissions he rightly denounced during his campaign," said Virginia
Sloan, president of the Constitution Project. "Military commissions are
designed to provide lesser due process protections for terrorism
suspects than our federal courts do. Throughout our nation's history,
those courts have proven their ability to handle the most difficult and
sensitive cases. President Obama should have demonstrated a return to
the rule of law by ending the tainted military commission proceedings."
 
Reports
indicate that President Obama will seek an additional 120-day delay for
the nine commission proceedings already under way, allowing time for
his administration to propose to Congress changes in the proceedings to
enhance the rights of the accused detainees, including a ban on using
evidence obtained through harsh interrogation techniques, more limits
on hearsay testimony, greater leeway in choosing legal representation,
and protections for those who refuse to testify. It is estimated that
the revamped commissions will be used for fewer than 20 of the 240
detainees currently at Guantanamo. Some of the others being detained
apparently will be handled by the federal court system.
 
In
November, the Constitution Project issued a bipartisan statement
condemning proposals for national security courts to handle terrorism
cases, urging that our existing federal courts handle these cases
instead. An updated version was released in March to include the
endorsements of former federal judges and prosecutors. To see the
statement, go to:
http://www.constitutionproject.org/manage/file/49.pdf 

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The Constitution Project is a politically independent think tank established in 1997 to promote and defend constitutional safeguards. More information about the Constitution Project is available at http://constitutionproject.org/.

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