Special Report: How a 5-minute phone call put 9/11 trial on hold for more than a year
By David Rohde
Oct. 2, 2015
In a May 2009 announcement, Obama said he would reform, rather than abolish, the [Guantánamo Bay] military commissions. Obama argued that rule changes, including barring statements made under harsh interrogation and making it more difficult to use hearsay as evidence, would make the commissions more credible.
Republicans welcomed the move. Legal experts predicted it would fail.
Eric Freedman, a Hofstra University law professor, said the reforms didn’t remove one of the military commissions’ core legal problems: Many of the terrorist activities with which some detainees were charged were civilian crimes, not war crimes. Under international law, military tribunals can try defendants only for war crimes.
“Conspiracy to blow up an airliner is a criminal offense,” not a war crime, Freedman said.