Judge Rules Prisoners in Guantanamo Must Have Their Day in US Courts
A federal judge found the Bush policy of only granting the prisoners in Guantanamo access to military tribunals inadequate for safeguarding their right to challenge their confinement in a US court. U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens Green ruled that the current policy violated the US Constitution and parts of the Geneva Convention.
"Although this nation unquestionably must take strong action under the leadership of the commander in chief to protect itself against enormous and unprecedented threats," Green wrote, "that necessity cannot negate the existence of the most basic, fundamental rights for which the people of this country have fought and died for well over 200 years."
In her decision, the latest legal blow against the administration's system for holding and trying terrorism suspects, Green said that the Supreme Court made clear in a June ruling that the prisoners had constitutional rights and that lower courts must enforce them. In that ruling, the high court found that the prisoners could seek judicial review of their imprisonment.
"It would be far easier for the federal government to prosecute the war on terrorism if it could imprison all suspected 'enemy combatants' at Guantanamo Bay without having to acknowledge and respect any constitutional rights of detainees," Green wrote. "That, however, is not the relevant legal test."
Although this was a setback to the Bush administration, it is not the final word as another federal judge had recently ruled that the detainees did not have any rights to the US courts beyond the military tribunals. Eventually, the Supreme Court will have to settle the matter. Meanwhile the Bush administration has found other detainees held for almost three years could be returned to their home countries.