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Gonzales urges Congress to authorize military commissions for terror detainees

[JURIST] Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] on Tuesday, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] urged Congress to authorize military commissions [JURIST news archive] to try terror detainees following the US Supreme Court's decision last month in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld [opinion text], where the Court held that the military commissions as initially constituted by the Bush administration lacked proper legal authorization [JURIST report]. During a Department of Justice oversight hearing [committee materials], Gonzales said military commissions present a practical way to try terror detainees while protecting military intelligence. He added that Congress should consider Defense Department [official website] regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice [text] when creating procedures to try terror detainees under military commissions, and clearly define how Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions [text] applies to terror detainees [JURIST report].

According to his prepared remarks [text], Gonzales said:

The Hamdan decision now gives Congress and the Administration a clear opportunity to work together to reestablish the legitimate authority of the United States to rely on military commissions as one tool to bring the terrorists to justice. Taking this cooperative approach will allow us to structure an effective system the world will look to with both appreciation and admiration.

In the wake of the Hamdan decision, we all have a common goal: to provide flexible but fair procedures that will enable us to try al Qaeda terrorists for their war crimes, without compromising our National values or the safety of the American people. It is imperative that we move quickly, and the Administration stands prepared to provide assistance in this effort.
Also on Tuesday, Gonzales told the Judiciary Committee that President Bush personally put an end [JURIST report] to an internal Justice Department investigation into the role DOJ lawyers played in designing the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive]. USINFO has more.

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