updated 10/3/2006 1:55:15 PM ET 2006-10-03T17:55:15

The Pentagon said Tuesday that it will take some time to set up military trials for terror suspects, approved by Congress last week.

No such trials are imminent, said Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman, who declined to say when he thought they might begin.

President Bush is expected to sign into law legislation passed Friday on prisoner interrogations and military trials. The Defense Department has to rewrite rules and redraft charges that were filed against defendants under an old trial system, struck down by the Supreme Court, Whitman said.

“And then there’s all the mechanics” of assigning people like judges, lawyers and court reporters — “things that are very mundane but very important,” Whitman said. “And that’s just to give you a flavor of the many things that we would have to do.”

Ten detainees at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had already been selected for trial under a system set up after the Sept. 11 attacks when the Supreme Court ruled the system unconstitutional.

Since then, Bush also has sent to Guantanamo 14 high-level suspects that the CIA had been interrogating and hiding for years in secret prisons around the world.

The group includes Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Asked whether officials might decide to try those new arrivals first, Whitman said it would be up to prosecutors, though more work has been done on the cases of others.

Australian Attorney General Philip Ruddock says he was told by U.S. officials that the only Australian held at Guantanamo — Taliban fighter David Hicks — will be one of the first terror suspects to be tried by the overhauled military commission system. Speaking Sunday, Ruddock said he expected it to be within months.

The bill passed Friday authorizes the Pentagon to set up military commissions, or juries, to hear a defendant’s case and establishes rules for prosecution. The bill requires at least five members in each commission and a unanimous vote by at least 12 members if the death penalty is sought. It also requires the military judge follow certain trial procedures, such as requiring each defendant have access to any evidence given to the jury.

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