[JURIST] According to military and Bush administration officials, the US Department of Defense is considering substantial changes to the tribunal process [New York Times report] at Guantanamo Bay for foreign terror suspects. The changes, designed in response to widespread criticism from foreign governments, human rights groups, and the federal courts, include strengthening the rights of defendants, establishing more independant judges to lead the panels, and excluding confessions obtained by torture. The tribunals have been the subject of important legal battles. In 2004, the Supreme Court ruled in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld [PDF text] that detainees had the right to challenge their detention in federal court. Later in 2004, a US District Court halted proceedings in another case [Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, PDF text] ruling that the defendant first had to be determined an enemy combatant by a "competent tribunal" [AP report]. It's uncertain what changes, if any will be adopted in the current procedures. Some government officials have said that pending litigation on the system makes change premature. Others, including Vice President Dick Cheney, oppose making any changes unless ordered to do so by the courts.