t r u t h o u t | 11.24
Guantanamo Justice After Seven Years
Monday 24 November 2008
by: Marjorie Cohn, Jurist
Since the Bush administration began transporting men and boys to
Finally, on November 20, in a stunning development, U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon ordered the government to release five
The five detainees the judge ordered released are Lakhdar Boumediene, Mustafa Ait Idir, Hadj Boudella, Saber Lahmar and Mohammed Nechla. Judge
It was the Supreme Court's June 12, 2008, decision in Boumediene v. Bush (see Supreme Court Checks and Balances in Boumediene, http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/forumy/2008/06/supreme-court-checks-and-balances-in.php) that allowed Judge
The six detainees in this case are native Algerians who were residing in
Arrested by Bosnian authorities in October 2001 for alleged involvement in a plot to bomb the
President Bush had withdrawn the alleged bomb plot as a basis for their detention. He argued instead that the men planned to travel to
The judge said the Justice Department and intelligence agencies had relied solely on a classified document from an unnamed source. He wrote that "while the information in the classified intelligence report, relating to the credibility and reliability of the source, was undoubtedly sufficient for the intelligence purposes for which it was prepared, it is not sufficient for the purposes for which a habeas court must now evaluate it." He added, "To allow enemy combatancy to rest on so thin a reed would be inconsistent with this Court's obligation under the Supreme Court's decision in Hamdi to protect petitioners from the risk of erroneous detention."
The government did, however, present additional evidence which persuaded Judge
Bosnian authorities have indicated they are willing to take the five detainees once they are released.
In October, another federal district judge in Washington, Ricardo M. Urbina, ordered that 17 Uighur detainees be released from
President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to close the
The Guild opposes the creation of national security courts to try the detainees. Although Obama said in August, "It's time to better protect the American people and our values by bringing swift and sure justice to terrorists through our courts and our Uniform Code of Military Justice," three Obama advisers told the Associated Press that the President-elect is expected to propose a new court system to deal with "sensitive national security cases."
Concerns have been cited about disclosure of classified information in civilian courts and courts-martial. However, the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) provides an adequate method of protecting classified information in existing
President-elect Obama should send those prisoners he intends to try to
Marjorie Cohn is a professor at
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