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2908Supreme Court backs rights for Guantanamo detainees

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  • Greg Cannon
    Jun 12, 2008
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      Supreme Court backs rights for Guantanamo detainees

      7 minutes ago

      WASHINGTON - 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.

      The justices handed the Bush administration its third
      setback at the high court since 2004 over its
      treatment of prisoners who are being held indefinitely
      and without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.
      The vote was 5-4, with the court's liberal justices 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 who 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

      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."