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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ruling in terrorism trial analysis a setback for Obama

The Obama administration's prosecution of terrorism expects in U.S. criminal courts could be hobbled by a federal judge's decision to bar a key government witness from testifying in the first analysis of a prisoner who was held by the military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

U.S. prosecutors in Manhattan are trying Ahmed Ghailani of Tanzania on charges that he conspired with Islamic militants to bomb the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in which 224 citizens were killed. Ghailani's defense lawyers argued he was forced in interrogations while in CIA custody.

Judge Lewis Kaplan refused to permit a witness testify because he was located as a result of testimony coerced from Ghailani, a setback for the Obama administration.

The Obama administration has frequently said that U.S. criminal courts in the past have handled prosecuting terrorism cases and have pressed to have detainees from Guantanamo tried that way regardless of criticism from Republicans.

The decision, if prosecutors are unable to overturn it, could make it harder for the administration to win approval from the U.S. Congress to prosecute terrorism expects in criminal courts. That effort was previously facing challenges despite the fact that President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats control both chambers.

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