[JURIST] Advisers to US President-elect Barack Obama [official website] have begun working on a plan to hold criminal trials in US courts for a large number of Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees, according to a Monday report [text] by the Associated Press. Under the plan, which would also entail the end of Guantanamo-based military commissions [JURIST news archive], the majority of detainees would either be released or brought to the US to face criminal charges. Cases that involve the use of particularly sensitive evidence would be tried in special courts designed to protect the information. The plan has already faced criticism from those who either argue that the detainees should not be brought into the country at all, or that they should all be tried in traditional criminal courts. Meanwhile Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy site] began an ad campaign [PDF image] and started a petition [advocacy website] calling on Obama to close the prison [press release] and end the use of military tribunals on his very first day in office. In the wake of Sunday comments by Obama transition chief John Podesta on using executive authority [JURIST report] to ensure early reversal of various contentious Bush administration policies, the ACLU also called on him to issue an executive order banning the use of torture during interrogations.
If carried out, it is not clear what effect the plan will have on previous convictions of detainees by the military commissions or the habeas corpus petitions others now have before federal district courts [JURIST reports]. Last week, a judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] began [JURIST report] habeas hearings for six Algerians challenging their detention at Guantanamo Bay. The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit [official website] recently suspended its review of a detainee's case because it held it may lack jurisdiction [JURIST report] over the case.