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Historic first terror trial opens at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

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But the Guantánamo commission process ran into trouble. It became a lightning rod for international criticism of the administration's controversial legal approach to the war on terror. President Bush's original commission procedures were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2005, and on June 12 the high court invalidated a substantial portion of a new legal regime created at Guantánamo by Congress and the White House in 2006.

Some legal analysts thought that ruling might scuttle plans to put the first of 20 detainees charged with war crimes on trial during the current election year and before President Bush leaves office in January. But last week, both a military judge at Guantánamo and a federal judge in Washington declined to apply the Supreme Court's ruling to pretrial attempts to block pending war crimes trials.

Despite his ruling, US District Judge James Robertson revealed a level of skepticism about the looming commission trials.

"The eyes of the world are on Guantanamo Bay," Judge Robertson wrote in an opinion released in Washington on Friday. "Justice must be done there, and must be seen to be done there, fairly and impartially."

That task falls to Military Judge Keith Allred, a US Navy captain, who has been appointed to preside over the first military commission trial.

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