Washington (CNN) – Those who have followed President Obama's stance on which court is appropriate to try accused terrorists can be forgiven for getting a severe case of whiplash.
After all, it was candidate Obama in 2008 who made clear he intended to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility within a year of his presidency and put an end to military commissions there – the proceedings that extend only limited trial rights to accused terrorists. Then, it was President Obama who quickly signed an order calling for Guanatanomo's close while his Justice Department soon vowed that, in the interest of justice, Khalid Sheik Mohammed and other alleged 9/11 terrorists will be tried in civilian courts.
Depending on the time devoted to a variety of motions, the trial of Canadian citizen Omar Khadr could begin as soon as Monday at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (CNN) - Final preparations were underway Sunday for what will be the Obama administration's first full military commission hearing, set to begin this week.
A few hours after an 8 a.m. recording of the national anthem that blared across Guantanamo's Camp Justice, attorneys for the Military Commission - both prosecutors and defense attorneys - met with judges to plot out the procedures and schedules of what could play out in the courtroom this week.
Canadian citizen Omar Khadr, the youngest detainee in the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay, was captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2002 when he was only 15. Now 23, he is set to go on trial, charged with terrorist acts for al Qaeda and the killing of a U.S. Special Forces soldier.
His Pentagon-appointed lawyer, Lt. Col. Jon Jackson, tried and failed to have the trial stopped - the Supreme Court denied his request Friday. And depending on the time devoted to a variety of motions, the trial could begin as soon as Monday.
Washington (CNN) – Former Attorney General John Ashcroft suggested Wednesday that the Obama administration’s criminal investigation into the circumstances that led to the Gulf oil spill should have come sooner than it did.
Almost six weeks after the initial explosion on the oil rig Deepwater Horizon, the Justice Department announced Tuesday it had launched a criminal and civil investigation into the oil spill.
Asked during an appearance at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, whether he thought the investigations or the timing of the announcement were politically motivated, Ashcroft said he didn’t know “enough facts and circumstances” to comment. But the former head of the Justice Department went on to say, “If someone ever commits a crime against me or my family I would hope that in something less than five weeks they would decide to investigate it.”
Ashcroft also criticized the Obama administration’s decision to close the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where a number of suspected terrorists have been held by the federal government.
Washington (CNN) - Attitudes about the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have changed dramatically since President Barack Obama took office, according to a new national poll.
Support for closing the facility has dropped 12 points over the past 14 months, a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey indicates.
Shortly before Obama's inauguration, 51 percent of Americans said they thought the facility in Cuba should be closed. Now that number is down to 39 percent, and six in ten believe the United States should continue to operate Guantanamo.
In this October 2009 file photo, a U.S. Army soldier watches the sun set at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)
Washington (CNN) - It's unclear when President Obama may ultimately close the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, terrorist detention facility, his senior adviser said in an interview broadcast Sunday.
"I believe we're going to get there, but it's complicated," David Axelrod told the CNN program "State of the Union," adding that there has been progress toward closing the facility.
Upon taking office in January 2009, the Obama administration said it intended to shut down the controversial detention facility in a year. That deadline has slipped, with no specific date announced for closing Guantanamo.
More than 180 prisoners remain detained at the Guantanamo facility.
Washington (CNN) - Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday declared that Justice Department lawyers, criticized for past representation of Guantanamo Bay prison detainees, are patriots who deserve to be praised.
"Let me be clear about this: Lawyers who provide counsel for the unpopular are - and should be treated as what they are - patriots," Holder told a friendly audience.
The crowd, gathered at a Washington hotel to honor voluntary free legal services for indigent criminal and terror suspects, burst into applause when Holder defended his attorneys.
Holder did not mention the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or al Qaeda by name, nor even refer directly to terrorism, but left no doubt to whom he was referring.
Obama confidante and senior adviser David Axelrod hit the trifecta Sunday talking health care, health care and lastly, health care on CNN.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs lent an assist on Fox: …”we’ll have the votes when the House votes.” The rough translation: We won’t vote until we have the votes and/or we don’t have the votes. Not yet anyway, according to the guy counting the noses. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) says the will is there and the votes will be too. “They (House Dems) have been looking to us to create a way to do it. I think we’ve gotten to a place where we do have the way to do it.”
No joy in Minorityville. House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio vowed to “…do everything we can to make it difficult for them, if not impossible, to pass the bill.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) warned Democrats about a kind of political Armageddon if the bill passes. “There will be an instant, spontaneous campaign to repeal it all across the country… and (in November) a political wipeout for the Democratic Party.
Proving that there will be news after health care Boehner says he doesn’t think Congress will approve funds to move terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay prison to a supermax facility on U.S. soil. Certainly you can count him out: “I wouldn’t vote for this if you put a gun to my head.”
Boehner also said there’s a chance Republicans could take over the house this November.
Asked about the facility and whether it would be closed, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in an interview that airs on Sunday’s State of the Union, “Well, no they're not. They - they keep saying they are.”
Boehner rejected the White House proposal saying, “(T)hey want $500 million from this Congress to rehabilitate this prison in northwest Illinois. I want to see who the members are who are going to vote for this. I wouldn't vote for this if you put a gun to my head.”
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama is asking for more than $230 million in the 2011 budget to buy and prepare an idle Illinois prison to house terrorism suspects now detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The Justice Department budget for 2011 unveiled Monday calls for about $172 million for the federal government to acquire and renovate the state-owned prison in Thomson, Illinois, and another $66 million to eventually staff and equip it.
The budget requires congressional approval, and several lawmakers in both the House and Senate have vowed to block the funds, potentially preventing the transfer of many of the 192 remaining Guantanamo detainees to U.S. soil.
"Even though Americans are facing tremendous economic challenges, the administration has chosen to spend $237 million dollars in taxpayer money to provide free travel, room and board in Thomson, Illinois for some of the most dangerous Guantanamo detainees," said a statement Monday by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "It is time for the President to focus on the security and economic needs of the American people, rather than on the needs of those dangerous extremists who seek to do us harm."
Washington (CNN) - A recommendation by the Obama administration's Guantanamo Detainee Review Task Force to continue holding nearly 50 detainees indefinitely without charges sparked fury among civil liberties groups Friday.
The recommendation, confirmed to CNN by two government sources not authorized to release the information, was completed by a task force under the direction of Attorney General Eric Holder and sent to President Barack Obama for final approval.
The confidential review recommending a disposition for each of the 196 remaining Guantanamo detainees was first reported by the Washington Post.
The review proposes that 47 detainees be held without charges or trial because they are considered too dangerous to release, and because trials could jeopardize intelligence and harm national security, government sources said.
"If you close Guantanamo but leave individuals detained without charge or trial you're just making a cosmetic change," Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU National Security Project, told CNN.