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The Pentagon Releases a Proposed List of War Crimes to Be Judged by Tribunals

The Defense Department today released a proposed list of 24 crimes to be used by tribunals conducting trials for adversaries captured in the campaign against terrorism and held by the military. Categories in the document, which is titled “Crimes and Elements for Trials by Military Commission” and which is only a draft, include attacks on civilians, the taking of hostages, the use of poisons, the deployment of human shields, terrorism and rape. The Defense Department general counsel released the list for public comment, and officials said the Pentagon planned to release a final list of crimes in early March. A leading expert on the military legal system, Eugene R. Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, said the government had taken an important step in releasing the draft guidelines for public debate, rather than finalizing the list in private. Although the military commissions were created to deal with Taliban and Al Qaeda members, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said today that the rules could apply to Iraqi suspects who might come into United States military custody, should the president order America to war. The use of military commissions to prosecute terrorism suspects was approved by President Bush after the Sept. 11 attacks. Full Story

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