President Bush has designated the first individuals eligible to be tried by special US military commissions that were set up to deal with the so-called enemy combatants taken prisoner in America's "war on terrorism".
According to Pentagon officials, six people have been selected. No charges have been brought against them and it is up to the Defence Department to decide whether the men will be brought to trial. The officials declined to name the six, though it is known they are among about 600 detainees at the US base of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Mr Bush is understood to have taken the step because there were sufficient grounds to believe each of the six was a member of al-Qa'ida or had been involved in terrorist acts or plans against the US.
The officials said the six had attended training camps in Afghanistan or elsewhere and may have been involved in financing al-Qa'ida. They may also have helped recruit members for the network.
The commissions, or tribunals, have been criticised by human rights groups as offering far less protection than civil courts. These groups have also objected to calling the prisoners enemy combatants, which allows them to be held without access to lawyers.
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