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Pentagon receives recommendations for tribunals

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Pentagon officials said Friday draft plans for military tribunals call for suspects to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The officials say the draft also calls for tribunal members to reach a unanimous vote on the death penalty.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is expected to review a large set of recommendations over the New Year's holiday on how the tribunals will be set up. Final decisions are expected in January.

There is no indication whether Rumsfeld will accept the recommendations.

However, one Pentagon official said the recommendation on the death penalty is designed to reflect the approach generally adopted by the U.S. court system.

Other matters to be reviewed by Rumsfeld include under what circumstances tribunals would be open to the public and the appellate process for the death penalty.

Lawmakers from both parties have criticized have criticized the Bush administration for instituting the tribunals.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, expressed concern about the ability to balance "tremendous government power" and civil liberties.

During a hearing convened by his committee to discuss the tribunals, Leahy defended his questioning of the military courts, saying, "The need for congressional oversight is not -- as some mistakenly describe it -- to protect terrorists," he said. "It is to protect Americans and protect our American freedoms that you and everyone in this room cherish so much. And every single American has a stake in protecting our freedoms."



 
 
 
 



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