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Attorney general gets first look at terror detainees, legal process at Guantanamo Bay
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    WASHINGTON — Attorney General Michael Mukasey met briefly Wednesday with government prosecutors at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as the U.S. prepares its case against six al-Qaida suspects accused of being responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
    The attorney general was expected to spend only about six hours at the Naval station during his previously unannounced first trip there, said Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr.
    Mukasey ‘‘is meeting with military personnel and other officials involved in the military commissions proceedings,’’ Carr said. He said Justice Department prosecutors ‘‘have been involved in the investigation since the high value detainees were moved to Guantanamo Bay.’’
    Mukasey was to return to Washington by Wednesday afternoon.
    Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, 15 so-called ‘‘high-value detainees’’ were held at length by the CIA in secret overseas prisons before being handed over to the military. Six of them, including alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, are facing the death penalty in a military trial that officials say could still be months, if not years, away.
    The Supreme Court is expected to rule in a few months on whether Guantanamo detainees can challenge their confinement in civilian courts. In 2006, the court ruled that a previous legal process for the detainees was unconstitutional, prompting Congress and the Bush administration months later to resurrect the tribunals in an altered form under the Military Commissions Act.
    Critics of the untested military commissions system say the high-profile trial will expose its flaws.
    Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann, the legal adviser to the military commissions, said earlier this month that the trial for the six Guantanamo detainees is at least 120 days away, ‘‘and probably well beyond that.’’
    An estimated 275 men suspected of links to al-Qaida and the Taliban are held at Guantanamo.

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