President Barack Obama has properly backed down from his ban on military trials of captured enemy combatants at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. That is essentially an acknowledgment that he will not close the detention facility at “Gitmo.”
The president has sought to try Gitmo detainees in U.S. civilian courts — a right to which they are not entitled. They were captured overseas as non-uniformed enemy combatants, so they have no right to civilian trials on our soil. Military tribunals are the appropriate venue for dealing with the terrorism suspects.
Yet starting in January 2009, the administration imposed a ban against military trials for the likely terrorists at Gitmo. The president has now lifted that ban, in part because of questions about where the extremely dangerous terrorists might be housed on the U.S. mainland if they were convicted here. There was also a risk that some could be set free if evidence that could have been used against them in a military tribunal were thrown out of a civilian trial.
Letting military trials proceed at Gitmo is a welcome change, and it is also good that Gitmo will stay open to hold terrorists and terrorism suspects, who assuredly should never be brought onto U.S. soil.