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House panel chairman says detainee release policy too lenient

[JURIST] US Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) [official website], chairman of the House Armed Services Committee [official website], told reporters Tuesday that the Defense Department has been too lenient in its policies on custody of terror suspects, questioning the release of detainees [JURIST report] from Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. Hunter's comments came ahead of a scheduled Wednesday committee hearing on standards for military commissions and tribunals, one of several congressional hearings [JURIST report] in the wake of last month's US Supreme Court decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld [text], where the Court held that military commissions [JURIST news archive] as constituted by President Bush lacked proper legal authorization [JURIST report].

In a statement [PDF text] following the Court's ruling in Hamdan, Hunter said that he will "explore all legislative options available to ensure the United States government is allowed to continue to try terrorists for war crimes committed in the Global War on Terror," and that his committee would work with the Senate and Executive Branch "to design appropriate procedures to try terrorists guilty of war crimes." Several preliminary proposals have been made on mechanisms to replace military commissions, including trying terror suspects through military courts-martial, an approach generally advocated by Democrats. Alternatively, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has suggested a framework based on the court-martial system that doesn't include all the guarantees of the Uniform Code on Military Justice [text]. The Senate Judiciary Committee considered military commissions in a hearing [committee materials; JURIST report] Tuesday. The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a similar hearing [committee materials] on military commissions Thursday. AP has more.

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