The Obama administration may allow terror detainees to plead guilty in military commissions and be executed without a full trial, according to a report.
That would keep the government from having to divulge the "enhanced" interrogation techniques it used to gather evidence on terror suspects, but would also allow five Guantanamo detainees charged with the Sept. 11 attacks to die as martyrs, The New York Times reported.
Current American military justice law -- which is the basis for the commissions -- does not allow a defendant to plead guilty in a crime where they face the death penalty. The proposed change to the law, which Congress would have to approve, has been submitted to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, according to the Times. It is not clear if the White House approves of the change, which is being proposed by a special task force.
The terrorism-era military commission format has come under withering criticism from legal and human rights quarters, and American military prosecutions employing this structure and legal rules have for the most part been put on hold since January while the new administration considered other options.
Last month, President Barack Obama said he would revive military commissions for 13 Guantanamo detainees, a system he termed a "failure" during the presidential campaign and halted in his first days in office. But Obama said detainees would be granted more rights than in the past, and banned from trial all evidence obtained through cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, which includes waterboarding.
Obama already has said that he wants to close Guantanamo by January 2010, declaring it has caused the United States more harm than good and has served as a recruitment tool for the al-Qaida terrorist network.
In December, five detainees charged with planning the Sept. 11 attacks said they wanted to plead guilty, and, in fact, boasted of their acts.
"They are trying to give the 9/11 guys what they want: let them plead guilty and get the death penalty and not have to have a trial," Air Force Maj. David J.R. Frakt, a Guantanamo defense lawyer, told the Times.