Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Gitmo Courthouse Compound goes bye bye

A few days ago Defense Secretary Gates called the plan for a $100m courthouse compound that was to be built on the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba, “ridiculous.” Originally, as we reported earlier, the Pentagon wanted to establish a special facility for trying terrorist suspects that would have been designed, we are told again, “to accommodate as many as 1,200 people” and “called for three courtrooms to allow for multiple trials to be conducted simultaneously.”
Consider it a kind of fast-track for trying suspected terrorists.
Included would also have been “a separate high-security area to house the detainees facing trial.”

[Image: Guantanamo Bay - Camp X-Ray, photo via Global Security.]

This project, as senator Feinstein pointed out, had not been subject to the normal review process because the Pentagon had last fall invoked emergency powers to bypass any congressional oversight.
This Courthouse Complex, or Military Commissions Compound, would have facilitated new policy that allows war-crimes detainees to be tried under the Military Commissions Act, which essentially strips U.S. courts of their jurisdiction to hear or consider habeas corpus appeals to challenge the lawfulness of detention for anyone held in U.S. custody as an "enemy combatant."
Now, it appears such Military tribunals will take place inside “temporary buildings like we've used in Iraq,” Gates said, with some “additional facilities that will be paid for by the $1.6 million that is included in the current budget request for facility upgrades.”
And, as we read in the Washington Post, the first round of mass trials will begin this Friday when 14 “high-value foreign terrorism suspects”, currently held at Guantanamo Bay, will face hearings “to determine whether they are enemy combatants.” This will apparently “take place behind closed doors because of the risk that top-secret information could surface.”
And the spaces of exception continue to unfold before our very eyes.
Read about the process of these tribunals in this informative article by the Post.

Also, check out some of our other coverage of Guantanamo Bay: A Mini-city for Trying Terror; Guantánamo and the Border Exodus; Walkthrough Gitmo: the de-restricted fortress.


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