NEW YORK, May 9 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network — Pentagon officials…

NEW YORK, May 9 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network — Pentagon officials are reviewing the evidence against a large number of captured Qaeda suspects-including high- level operatives-with the goal of bringing them to trial later this year,
Newsweek reports in the current issue. “There is intense planning underway,”
says an official familiar with the effort. Instead of trying them together in
a Nuremberg-style proceeding, they would likely be prosecuted individually. It
would be “easier to control,” says the official. There is still some
reluctance to bring the prisoners to trial, Newsweek reports. Counterterrorism
officials say that some of the top suspects continue to provide useful

Last week’s arrest of Qaeda operative Abu Faraj al-Libbi, believed to be
one of Osama bin Laden’s closest henchmen, is a reminder that the White House
still has not found an answer to the question of what the U.S. will ultimately
do with the dozens of captured Qaeda leaders after they have exhausted their
usefulness as informants, report Investigative Correspondents Michael Isikoff
and Mark Hosenball in the May 16 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, May
9). One official tells Newsweek that al-Libbi played a “crucial role” in
smuggling out videotapes of bin Laden that were broadcast on Al-Jazeera just
before the presidential election.

Top counterintelligence officials say that more than three and a half
years after 9/11, they are becoming increasingly frustrated that not a single
suspected Qaeda leader has been brought to justice. Some top Bush aides have
pushed the issue. Shortly after the 2004 election, Newsweek reports,
Condoleezza Rice raised it at a cabinet-level meeting. With many top terror
leaders in custody in secret CIA prisons, Rice suggested that the war on
terror was moving into a “new phase.” The government, she said, had to begin
thinking about critical questions: How long was it prepared to keep terror
suspects in a state of legal limbo? How would they be brought to justice? As
one official who was present at the meeting put it, what was “the endgame”?

The administration had chosen military tribunals as the best venue, but a
federal judge ruled in November that they were unconstitutional. Pentagon
rules allow the use of secret evidence and witnesses unknown to the defendant,
denying him the right to face his accuser. “Why don’t they just deliver all
these people to the immediate custody of the Supreme Court and let them decide
what to do with them?” grouses Theodore Olson, the former solicitor general.
“It’s a hell of a mess.” /

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