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High court to hear Guantanamo detainee cases

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    Justices reverse course, agree to review issue of challenging confinement High court to hear Guantanamo detainee cases
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 2007
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      Justices reverse course, agree to review issue of challenging confinement


      High court to hear Guantanamo detainee cases
      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19503391/#storyContinued


      The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review whether Guantanamo Bay
      detainees may go to federal court to challenge their indefinite
      confinement. MSNBC's Chris Jansing reports.


      WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court, reversing course, agreed Friday to
      review whether Guantanamo Bay detainees may go to federal court to
      challenge their indefinite confinement.

      The action, announced without comment along with other end-of-term
      orders, is a setback for the Bush administration. It had argued that a
      new law strips courts of their jurisdiction to hear detainee cases.

      In April, the court turned down an identical request, although several
      justices indicated they could be persuaded otherwise.

      The move is highly unusual.

      The court did not indicate what changed the justices' minds about
      considering the issue. But last week, lawyers for the detainees filed
      a statement from a military lawyer in which he described the
      inadequacy of the process the administration has put forward as an
      alternative to a full-blown review by civilian courts.

      The White House continued to back its legal stance.

      "We did not think that court review at this time was necessary, but we
      are confident in our legal position," said Gordon Johndroe, a
      spokesman for the National Security Council, said Thursday.

      The White House continued to back its legal stance.

      "We did not think that court review at this time was necessary, but we
      are confident in our legal position," said Gordon Johndroe, a
      spokesman for the National Security Council.

      `A stunning victory'
      "This is a stunning victory for the detainees," said Eric M. Freedman,
      professor of constitutional law at Hofstra Law School, who has been
      advising the detainees. "It goes well beyond what we asked for, and
      clearly indicates the unease up there" at the Supreme Court.

      In February, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of
      Columbia upheld a key provision of a law the Bush administration
      pushed through Congress last year stripping federal courts of their
      ability to hear the detainees' challenges to their confinement.

      On April 2, the Supreme denied the detainees' request to review the
      February appeals court ruling.

      The detainees then petitioned the court to reconsider its denial.

      Dismissing the petitions would be "a profound deprivation" of the
      prisoners' right to speedy court review, lawyers for the detainees said.

      The administration asked that the detainees' Supreme Court petitions
      be thrown out.

      Many of the 375 detainees have been held at Guantanamo for five years.

      In recent months, the main arena in the legal battle over the
      detainees has been the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District
      of Columbia.

      `The highest level of deference'
      The appeals court is considering how to handle the detainees'
      challenges to military tribunals that found them to be enemy
      combatants, which left them without any of the legal rights accorded
      prisoners of war.

      The White House is considering closing Guantanamo and transferring
      some of the most dangerous suspects to a prison at Fort Leavenworth,
      Kan., and a Navy brig in South Carolina.

      The detainees' attorneys want the appeals court to allow a broad
      inquiry questioning the accuracy and completeness of the evidence the
      tribunals gathered about the detainees, most of it classified.

      The Justice Department has been seeking a limited review, saying that
      the findings of the military tribunals are "entitled to the highest
      level of deference."

      The White House has been weighing closing the Guantanamo Bay prison,
      which has brought global criticism of the Bush administration and
      condemnation from Democrats on Capitol Hill.

      The cases are Boumediene v. Bush, 06-1195, and Al Odah v. U.S., 06-1196.

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