Decision to Resume Guantanamo Bay Military Commissions Muddies the Water

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The $725 billion National Defense Authorization Act that Obama signed Jan. 7 explicitly prohibits the use of Defense Department funds to transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to the United States or other countries. It also bars Pentagon funds from being used to build facilities in the United States to house detainees, as the president originally suggested.

The move essentially barred the administration from trying detainees in civilian courts. The president objected to the provision in the bill before signing it, calling it "a dangerous and unprecedented challenge to critical executive branch authority" but also said his team would work with Congress to "seek repeal of these restrictions."

There are about 170 prisoners remaining at the detainee center in Guantanamo Bay, 30 of whom were due to face trial in criminal courts or before military commissions. Since 2002, 598 prisoners have been transferred to other countries.

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