High Court sides With Guantanamo Detainees Again

By MARK SHERMAN
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have rights under the Constitution to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts.

In its third rebuke of the Bush administration's treatment of prisoners, the court ruled 5-4 that the government is violating the rights of prisoners being held indefinitely and without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. The court's liberal justices were in the majority.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, said, "The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times."

It was not immediately clear whether this ruling, unlike the first two, would lead to prompt hearings for the detainees, some of whom have been held more than 6 years. Roughly 270 men remain at the island prison, classified as enemy combatants and held on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaida and the Taliban.

The administration opened the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to hold enemy combatants, people suspected of ties to al-Qaida or the Taliban.

The Guantanamo prison has been harshly criticized at home and abroad for the detentions themselves and the aggressive interrogations that were conducted there.

The court said not only that the detainees have rights under the Constitution, but that the system the administration has put in place to classify them as enemy combatants and review those decisions is inadequate.

The administration had argued first that the detainees have no rights. But it also contended that the classification and review process was a sufficient substitute for the civilian court hearings that the detainees seek.

In dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts criticized his colleagues for striking down what he called "the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded aliens detained by this country as enemy combatants."

Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas also dissented.

Scalia said the nation is "at war with radical Islamists" and that the court's decision "will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed."

Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and John Paul Stevens joined Kennedy to form the majority.

The court has ruled twice previously that people held at Guantanamo without charges can go into civilian courts to ask that the government justify their continued detention. Each time, the administration and Congress, then controlled by Republicans, changed the law to try to close the courthouse doors to the detainees.

In addition to those held without charges, the U.S. has said it plans to try as many as 80 of the detainees in war crimes tribunals, which have not been held since World War II.

A military judge has postponed the first scheduled trial pending the outcome of this case. The trial of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's onetime driver, had been scheduled to start June 2.

Five alleged plotters of the Sept. 11 attacks appeared in a Guantanamo courtroom last week for a hearing before their war crimes trial, which prosecutors hope will start Sept. 15.

President Bush has said he wants to close the facility once countries can be found to take the prisoners who are there.

Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama also support shutting down the prison.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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  • by steve on Jun 15, 2008 at 06:39 PM
    I am getting sick and tired of these communist libs its time to fight back this was a stupid ruling here we go again punish America and take up for the bad guys well this will not end this way libs i assure you .
  • by Diane Location: Mt.Sterling on Jun 13, 2008 at 09:13 AM
    Eight German terrorist entered the U.S. via submarine on the East Coast during WWII. The were caught by citizens turned over to the government. Within a week they were all executed. With the approval of FDR himself. Now we give terrorist full rights as citizens via the Supreme Court. We are done for with the blessing of our media, liberals, ACLU, and our broken legal system that doesn't know how to honor our own Constitution.
  • by Alan Location: manchester ky on Jun 13, 2008 at 03:11 AM
    Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and John Paul Stevens joined Kennedy to form the majority. And made a sad day for the U.S.A.
  • by steve on Jun 12, 2008 at 05:36 PM
    Your fine liberals at work.
  • by not a tree hugger Location: mccreary on Jun 12, 2008 at 01:32 PM
    I say if they want to close the place then fine . We execute them all because there all criminals. then close the place and please the tree huggers.
  • by RALPH Location: PIKEVILLE on Jun 12, 2008 at 01:27 PM
    I AM A VETERAN OF NAM AND I DON'T RECALL FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHTS OF TERRORISTS. THE CONSITUTION WAS AND IS FOR THE CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES. IF YOU ARE NOT A CITIZEN, IN MY OPINION YOU NEED TO BE LIVING IN THE COUNTRY YOU CAME FROM. ON TOP OF EVERYTHING ELSE, THESE PRISONERS ARE PROBABLEY TAKEN BETTER CARE OF THAN OUR OWN PEOPLE. I SAY LEAVE THEM WHERE THEY ARE AND BRING THE REST OF THE ISLAMIC NUTS AND PUT WITH THEM AND THEN SINK THE PLACE IN THE OCEAN.
  • by Zatoichi Location: Richmond on Jun 12, 2008 at 11:58 AM
    Only 6 plus years since 9-11 and everyone seems to have forgotten who the enemy is. Look at Europe, that continent will be "assimilated" into the hive in another generation. Looks like we won't be far behind.
  • by Steve Location: Lexington on Jun 12, 2008 at 11:03 AM
    If we take them hostage, then we have to afford them certain rights if we are going to try them, convict them, and KILL them in our country. Hence, we have to afford them the same kind of rights they would get if they had been caught on US soil, which they were not. They were captured on their own soil, transferred to military installations, and brought against their will to our soil. Let's say you had committed a crime in a country that has no extradition treaty with the US (let's say Iran) and they wanted you back to put you on trial and kill you for the crime. Our country won't extradite you there because they don't want you killed in a fake trial, so they send someone into the US to find, capture, and then put you on a military flight to their country and then want to try and kill you. Would you think that was right, no matter what you did/did not do when you were in their country? No way, and the law prohibits that from happening. We have to respect the same code of conduct
  • by Bret Location: Somerset on Jun 12, 2008 at 10:22 AM
    I cannot believe that our Supreme Court gave enemy combatants the same rights as a American citizen. Even convicted criminals don't have the same rights as a American citizen. Nobody wants these terrorists brought into the United States and tried in our courts. What's next? US lawyers get the cases thrown out and release the terrorists into the United States? This judgement emboldens our enemies and puts our troops in greater danger.
  • by citizen Location: London on Jun 12, 2008 at 08:21 AM
    Excuse me? What gives these people rights under our constitution? Why should they have rights? They are not citizens.

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