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Friday, June 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Terrorism Suspects Can Challenge Detentions

(CN) - A federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled that some prisoners at the U.S. Bagram Airfield prison facility in Afghanistan can challenge their confinement. U.S. District Judge John D. Bates rejected the Obama administration's motion to dismiss habeas petitions from three of the four detainees, who were captured outside of Afghanistan and have been held at Bagram for more than six years.

The 53-page ruling calls into question the constitutionality of the absolute power employed by both the Bush and Obama administrations when dealing with suspected terrorists abroad.

Bates drew parallels to the Supreme Court's ruling in Boumediene v. Bush, which upheld the right of Guantanamo prisoners to challenge their detentions. Bates said the "objective degree of control" asserted by the United States at Bagram "is not appreciably different than at Guantanamo.

Two of the petitioners are citizens of Yemen, one is from Tunisia and the fourth is from Afghanistan. Bates granted the habeas petitions for all but the Afghan prisoner, saying the Afghani's case raised "unique 'practical obstacles' in the form of friction with the 'host' country."

"When a Bagram detainee has either been apprehended in Afghanistan or is a citizen of that country, the balance of factors may change," the judge explained.

However, Bates maintained that the U.S. government cannot deny habeas corpus to the others, because the privilege "plays a unique role in our constitutional system of checks and balances. ... Hence, (the government's) recurring theme - that this Court would be overstepping its constitutional role by entertaining habeas petitions filed by these detainees - rings hollow."

Bates was appointed by former President George W. Bush.

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