Administration defends military commissions but wants delay in hearings

The Obama administration Wednesday broadly defended as constitutional its predecessor's format for military commissions at Guantanamo but said it would seek to delay next week's sanity hearings in a Sept. 11 case while it revamps its war on terror prosecution strategy.

Assistant Attorney General David Kris wrote in the 30-page filing at the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia that a claim by military lawyers for accused 9/11 plotter Ramzi bin al Shibh of ``constitutional defects in the Military Commissions Act are without merit.''

Bin al Shibh's Navy lawyers asked the civilian court to halt next week's hearings at Guantanamo in a 71-page broadside against the war court created by the Bush administration -- describing the court as ``not a legitimate judicial proceeding but a political show trial.''

Defense lawyers filed the challenge in a request for an emergency order because an Army colonel has scheduled a session of military commissions next week at the remote U.S. Navy base in Cuba, even as the Obama administration proposes revamping the war court's rules in Congress.

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