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Gonzales Pushes Lenient Hearsay Rules

Trial procedures, sentencing and appellate review rules would "largely track" with courts-martial rules, Gonzales said. "At the same time, the military commission procedures should be different from the procedures used to try our own service members," he said.

Warner, R-Va., said he may convene hearings during the August congressional recess so that the legislation can be finished by September. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said Wednesday he expects a detainee bill to reach the floor in September.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said he would oppose any legislation that would authorize the defense secretary, instead of Congress, to determine what crimes may be tried by military tribunals.

Steven Bradbury, the top legal adviser at the Justice Department, confirmed the administration was considering granting the defense secretary such authority but added: "I would not say that the secretary of defense would be creating new crimes from whole cloth, but rather ... recognizing offenses that exist under the laws of war and providing for their prosecution in the military process."

At the Judiciary panel hearing, Specter said handing over control to the administration would invite another challenge by the Supreme Court. "Is there any reason we ought to follow that course that would be risky at best?" Specter asked.

"That's certainly an avenue that's open to Congress and one you might judge as appropriate," Bradbury replied.

Military lawyers testifying before the panel agreed with Specter that Congress should make clear who should be tried by military commission. They also said coerced statements should not be admissible in court.

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