| Feldman: Guantanamo Detainees May be Difficult to Try, Depending on Hamdan Ruling

President George W. Bush, during a recent interview with the German ARD television network, said he "would like to end Guantanamo." But, he said, closing the facility depends on the Supreme Court's upcoming ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which will determine whether detainees should be subject to civil or military trials. The case arose in 2004 after an indicted detainee—a Yemeni national and former driver of Osama bin Laden—Salim Ahmed Hamdan, challenged the legality of the military tribunals trying him.

CFR Adjunct Fellow Noah Feldman, author of After Jihad and a law professor at New York University, discusses the legal issues at stake in the Hamdan decision, expected in late June. He says the case will decide whether military tribunals are constitutionally sufficient and warns that if the Supreme Court rules current trial procedures inadequate, it may be difficult to try many of the nearly 500 Guantanamo detainees because "much of the evidence—all of the evidence, in some cases—is gleaned from procedures that would not be admissible in ordinary courts."

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Four years after U.S. officials began detaining "unlawful enemy combatants" at a camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, steady international calls to close the center have failed to budge Washington. The UN Committee Against Torture weighed in this week with a report on the issue. Opponents of the detention camp, where nearly 500 people are still held without formal charges, may have been hopeful after U.S. President George W. Bush recently told German television: "I very much would like to end Guantanamo; I very much would like to get people to a court." Bush said closing the camp depends on whether the Supreme Court decides that detainees will be tried in civilian courts or by military tribunals. That ruling is expected in June in the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case, discussed in this CFR Backgrounder. 

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