Obama to tackle Guantanamo detentions

OBAMA TO TACKLE GUANTANAMO DETENTIONS…. Members of Barack Obama’s team have already indicated policies the new White House plans to tackle early on in 2009, but let’s not overlook Obama’s efforts to reverse the Guantanamo nightmare.

President-elect Obama’s advisers are quietly crafting a proposal to ship dozens, if not hundreds, of imprisoned terrorism suspects to the United States to face criminal trials, a plan that would make good on his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison but could require creation of a controversial new system of justice.

During his campaign, Obama described Guantanamo as a “sad chapter in American history” and has said generally that the U.S. legal system is equipped to handle the detainees. But he has offered few details on what he planned to do once the facility is closed.

Under plans being put together in Obama’s camp, some detainees would be released and many others would be prosecuted in U.S. criminal courts.

A third group of detainees — the ones whose cases are most entangled in highly classified information — might have to go before a new court designed especially to handle sensitive national security cases, according to advisers and Democrats involved in the talks. Advisers participating directly in the planning spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans aren’t final.

The initiative is not, of course, without controversy. Most notably, the approach under consideration would include a new “hybrid” system for suspected terrorists that is short of Americans’ due process rights but more expansive than Bush’s military commissions. It’s a proposal burdened by, shall we say, kinks.

That said, the AP report noted that Laurence Tribe, a Harvard law professor and Obama legal adviser, believes that the closing of the detention facility would be a top priority of the new administration and the plan being crafted by Obama’s team “has been championed by legal scholars from both political parties.”

Spencer Ackerman added, “[C]onsider not only that this is one of the first initiatives that Obama is pursuing — it’s one of the first that he’s leaking, as well. This is as clear a signal as can be sent that the Bush era isn’t just over, it will be actively rolled back.”