Under Obama's direction Monday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued an order rescinding his January 2009 ban against bringing new cases against the terror suspects at the Cuba prison. Gates said the U.S. must maintain the option of prosecuting alleged terrorists in U.S. federal courts, but in his order Monday he also said the review of each detainee's status had been completed and the commission process had been reformed to address legal challenges.
Monday's announcement also included a process for periodically reviewing the status of detainees held at the prison. That's an effort to resolve one of the central dilemmas at Guantanamo Bay: what to do when the government thinks a prisoner is too dangerous to be released but either can't prove it in court or doesn't want to reveal national security secrets in trying to prosecute him? The answer, the White House said, is that the U.S. will hold those men indefinitely, without charges, but will review their cases periodically. However, if a review determines that someone should be released, there's no requirement that he actually be freed.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., criticized the new process, saying it does little to change the legal shortfalls of the military commissions. The process, he said, "falls far short of core constitutional values by failing to provide judicial review of cases considered by the review board or guaranteeing meaningful assistance of counsel" to the suspects.
The administration also announced support for additional international agreements on humane treatment of detainees. The White House said that would underscore to the world its commitment to fair treatment and would help guard against the mistreatment of U.S. military personnel should they be captured.