Pentagon manual details rules for trials of terrorism suspects

by Associated Press Thursday, January 18, 2007 - Updated: 01:32 PM EST

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon has drafted a manual for upcoming detainee trials that would allow convicted terrorists to be imprisoned or put to death using hearsay evidence and coerced testimony.

According to a copy of the manual obtained by The Associated Press, a terror suspect's defense lawyer cannot reveal classified evidence in the person's defense until the government has a chance to review it.

The manual, sent to Capitol Hill on Thursday and scheduled to be released later by the Pentagon, is intended to track a law passed last fall by Congress restoring President Bush's plans to have special military commissions try terror-war prisoners. Those commissions had been struck down earlier in the year by the Supreme Court.

Last September, Congress - then led by Republicans - sent Bush a bill granting wide latitude in interrogating and detaining captured enemy combatants. The legislation also prohibited some of the worst abuses of detainees like mutilation and rape, but granted the president leeway to decide which other interrogation techniques are permissible.

Passage of the bill, which was backed by the White House, followed more than three months of debate that included angry rebukes by democrats of the administration's interrogation policies, and a short-lived rebellion by some Republican senators.

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