White House Nearing Compromise on Detainee Trials

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Sidelined. Photo: Getty Images

A bi-partisan group of senators is nearing a compromise with the White House that will allow the administration to move forward with closing the prison at Guantánamo Bay and prosecuting the terrorists that are holed up there. While this would mean that one early goal of Obama's would be met — the closing of Gitmo, at last — the deal also looks like it will be a severe compromise on another: that of giving the terrorists civilian trials. From the White House side, this effort is being spearheaded by legal counsel Robert Bauer and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. On the congressional side, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is leading the charge. That leaves Attorney General Eric Holder, a continuing vocal supporter of civilian trials — the most prominent ones being here in New York — on the sidelines.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his fellow top plotters would go before military tribunals with more rights than they would have had under the Bush administration, but still less than they would have in a civilian court. There would still be 48 Gitmo detainees left in prison, unprosecuted, because they are too dangerous to release but difficult or impossible to convict, apparently. Holder's Justice Department, according to the Journal, is not privy to these negotiations.

Deal Near on Gitmo, Trials for Detainees [WSJ]