Obama to lift freeze on new Guantanamo trials


WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama lifted a ban Monday on new military trials for Guantanamo Bay terror suspects, apparently conceding that the camp he has vowed to close will not be emptied any time soon.
Obama also issued new guidelines to ensure humane and lawful treatment of suspects deemed too dangerous to release, but officials insisted he was still determined to shutter the controversial “war on terror” facility in Cuba.
They said the president still maintained that some suspects could be tried in federal courts, despite fierce opposition and blocking tactics from a bi-partisan front in Congress. “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,” Obama said in a statement.
The orders represented the president’s latest bid to navigate the hideously complicated thicket of legal questions left over from the previous Bush administration’s “war on terror” policies. He instructed Defense Secretary Robert Gates to issue an order rescinding the suspension of new trials that he announced within hours of taking power in January 2009, along with a vow to shutter the Guantanamo Bay camp in a year.
 Obama opposed the previous Bush administration’s plan for military tribunals while still a senator, and in 2009 said he did not oppose the system per se, but believed it lacked a solid legal grounding.
A senior official argued that Obama’s reforms, including on the use of evidence garnered through “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” made the military commissions “a sustainable process.”