updated 3/7/2011 6:27:35 PM ET 2011-03-07T23:27:35

President Barack Obama approved on Monday the resumption of military trials for detainees at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, ending a two-year ban.

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It was the latest acknowledgement that the detention facility Obama had vowed to shut down within a year of taking office would remain open for some time. Even while announcing a resumption of military commission trials, however, Obama reaffirmed his support for trying terror suspects in U.S. federal courts, which has met vehement resistance in Congress.

"I strongly believe that the American system of justice is a key part of our arsenal in the war against al-Qaida and its affiliates, and we will continue to draw on all aspects of our justice system — including Article III courts — to ensure that our security and our values are strengthened," the president said in a statement.

The White House also reiterated that the administration remains committed eventually to close the prison in Cuba, although Monday's actions did not seem to bring that outcome closer.

Under Obama's order, Defense Secretary Robert Gates will rescind his January 2009 ban against bringing new cases against the terror suspects at the detention facility.

The first trial likely to begin under Obama's new order would involve Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. Al-Nashiri, a Saudi of Yemeni descent, has been imprisoned at Guantanamo since 2006.

Closure of the facility has become untenable because of questions about where terror suspects would be held. Lawmakers object to their transfer to U.S. federal courts, and Gates recently told lawmakers that it has become very difficult to release detainees to other countries because Congress has made that process more complicated.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon, a Republican, said he was pleased with Obama's decision to restart the military commissions. But he said the administration must work with Congress to create a trial system that will survive review by the U.S. court system.

A sweeping defense bill Obama signed in January blocked the use of Defense Department dollars to transfer Guantanamo suspects to U.S. soil for trial. The White House said Monday it would work to overturn that prohibition.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Why is Guantanamo Bay still running?

  1. Closed captioning of: Why is Guantanamo Bay still running?

    >>> it was one of obama's first act, to shut down the prison at guantanamo bay . two years later it's still up and running. political opposition along with fierce public opposition to any plan to release the terrorists or imprison them or american soil, the nimby business of not in my backyard. even the white house seems resigned to the fact that right now there's no other options. the guantanamo controversy is the national journal 's cover story . and we see it here. gaun man mow is one of those problems where they come in with all intentions to fulfill the promise, sign that executive order , day two of the administration and two years later, nothing.

    >> the truth is as pointed out in the cover story , the failure to close gitmo will go down as one of the biggest broken promise of barack obama 's presidency. the promise he made in the campaign to close it down, the vote he made in 2006 against the military tribunal system, the review you're talking about, none of that was thought out well. if it had been, it would have been very clear that there's not the political will to close it. and that the legal obstacles could be resolved in many cases they have been.

    >> they have said that even though they haven't closed it, they have said and brought people down there for tours, the conditions down there have been improved and this is not not the kind of detention center it was initially. have they removed the stain? one of the reasons why the state department even under kond condoleezza rice , was that it was continuing a foreign policy dilemma for them because of the way it was reviewed in the arab world .

    >> it's interesting public relations wise, the stain hasn't been removed. there are still things that people think happened in guantanamo that will affect the image in united states and still things happening in gitmo that will be affecting people's perceptions of the united states . but the thing is that a lot of legal experts who were opposed to gitmo now think that the procedures under which these military tribunals are run are going to be done a lot more fair. so therefore, a lot of the legal underpinnings and concerns have been washed away. but the stain you're talking about, that still is a big problem.

    >> and finally, what about the military commissions and where we stand on what to do with these prisoners and how to get any adjudication. they can't stay there forever or can they?

    >> they probably will. one think that he does in the story, he breaks news that the military tribunals will start up soon and it costs a lot to put the prisoners somewhere else. cuba is off the u.s. shores and certainly while president obama is in office, these folks are still going to be detained in guantanamo and the numbers will grow and tri bunales will grow. it's a fact of life.

    >> a fact of life and embarrassment to the administrati administration, politically and otherwise. ron, fournier, thank you very much. what


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