Military trials will resume for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Barack Obama announced Monday, two years after promising the closure of the prison camp in Cuba.
The move will open the door for the prosecution of several suspected 9/11 conspirators, including alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
A handful of detainees have been charged in connection with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America, including Mohammed, but the charges were dismissed following Obama's decision to halt military trials in January 2009.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, touring Afghanistan, reportedly rescinded the January 2009 ban against bringing new charges against terror suspects in the military commissions.
The White House said in a statement that the tribunals were an "important tool in combating international terrorists," according to Fox News.
However, the administration would continue to press for some detainees — all terrorism suspects — to face trial in U.S. civilian courts, Bloomberg reported.
Resistance to doing so undermined U.S. counter-terrorism efforts, he said, referring to Congress efforts to block his move for civilian trials.
Obama's statement read: "I strongly believe that the American system of justice is a key part of our arsenal in the war against Al Qaeda and its affiliates, and we will continue to draw on all aspects of our justice system — including Article III courts — to ensure that our security and our values are strengthened."
According to Reuters, Obama also issued an executive order on Monday establishing a process to continue to hold Guantanamo detainees deemed to pose a threat to U.S. security but who have been neither charged nor convicted.
Administration officials declined to discuss the prosecution of Mohammed or other detainees, according to the Independent Mail. But Sen. Mitch McConnell (Rep) said Guantanamo was a safe location for such a trial.