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
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
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."