WASHINGTON—The Bush administration has limited options for handling the 450 or so prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, now that the Supreme Court has ruled that the military tribunals established to try them are illegal. Among those options:
_Have Congress draft a law outlining what kinds of courts could try these prisoners, and specifying what code of law would be applied: civil, military or some modification of the courts-martial. Whatever it drafts must meet the legal standard the Supreme Court specified, which means it mustn't violate the U.S. Constitution or the Geneva Conventions, which govern war crimes and prisoners of war.
One complication, many lawyers said, is that the Bush administration will have difficulty presenting evidence against many, and perhaps all, of the detainees in any court of law, because the way that the prisoners and some potential witnesses have been treated in detention may have violated rules of evidence and due process.
_The administration could send the prisoners back to their home countries, but two years of negotiations with many of those countries haven't produced agreement. Administration officials fear that some countries would simply release the detainees because there's no clear evidence that many of them committed crimes. They might then engage in terrorism. Officials fear that other detainees might be punished or executed by their governments, which would make the Bush administration morally complicit in their lawless deaths.
_The administration could send prisoners to a third country, such as Egypt, for imprisonment, but would lack leverage to ensure that they aren't treated inhumanely.
_The administration could hold the prisoners in Guantanamo or elsewhere for years while trying to create a legally acceptable trial system and fighting in court against defendants' efforts to force their release because they haven't gotten trials.
_The administration could simply release them, but that also would risk their engaging in terrorism.
(c) 2006, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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