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Fed. judge says courts can handle Gitmo cases

  Law Center  -   POSTED: 2009/04/03 15:01

A federal judge who presided over the trial of a 9/11 conspirator said Thursday that civilian courts are capable of handling the cases of Guantanamo Bay detainees.


U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema told a gathering at the University of Virginia law school that the courts' ability to handle even the most complicated terrorism cases was demonstrated by the prosecution of terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui in her courtroom.

She also said the government should not abuse classification procedures to suppress information about mistreatment of detainees. She said it's been her experience that much of what the government seeks to keep classified has more to do with avoiding embarrassment than divulging secrets.

"As embarrassing and as ugly as some of this information might be, it is not in my view national security information," she said.

Her remarks come as the Obama administration decides what to do with detainees at Guantanamo, which it wants to close by January 2010.

One option is to bring suspected terrorists to trial in the United States, though some critics have questioned whether traditional courts can handle the volume of classified information involved. Some argue that military courts or a some sort of hybrid national security court would provide a better forum.


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