- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 13, 2006

From combined dispatches

The Defense Department has suspended all military trials for war on terror suspects at the Guantanamo prison camp in Cuba, where three detainees committed suicide over the weekend.

“All sessions in all cases currently referred to trial by Military Commissions are stayed until further notice,” the Pentagon said in a statement posted Monday but dated Saturday, the day the three detainees were found hanged in their cells.

The statement does not explain the reasons behind the suspension, Agence France-Presse reported. Only 10 of the 460 inmates held as “enemy combatants” have been charged since the camp opened in early 2002 at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Hearings for some detainees had been suspended pending a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on the tribunals’ constitutionality, but other sessions had continued. The justices heard oral arguments in March in a case brought by Guantanamo detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan, and they are expected to rule this month.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon backed off on another legal front in the war on terrorism yesterday, dropping plans to keep some interrogation techniques secret by putting them in a classified section of a military manual, defense officials told the Associated Press yesterday.

Two senior officials told AP, on the condition of anonymity because the manual has not been completed, that the long-awaited revision of the Army Field Manual will not have a classified section. One of the officials said descriptions of interrogation techniques initially planned for the classified section are either being made public or are being eliminated as tactics that can be used against prisoners.

Military leaders have argued that making public all the interrogation techniques would make it easier for the enemy to resist questioning.

The move, which the AP characterized as made “under pressure from Congress,” was hailed by a prominent human rights group.

“I think this is huge,” said Elisa Massimino, Washington director of Human Rights First. “It’s a very significant step toward creating the kind of clarity in the rules that military personnel have said that they lack and that led to a lot of the abuses.”

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