News and Document archive source
copyrighted material disclaimer at bottom of page

NewsMinesecurityterror-suspectsguantanamo — Viewing Item

Surpreme court appears split on guantanamo prisoners

Original Source Link: (May no longer be active)

Supreme Court Appears Split on Guantanamo Prisoners
Tue Apr 20, 2004 01:49 PM ET

By James Vicini
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court appeared deeply split on Tuesday on whether foreigners at an American naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba can use U.S. courts to challenge their detentions, the first test of President Bush's policies in his war on terrorism.

Several justices stressed they were examining only whether U.S. courts have jurisdiction, not the merits of the claims by prisoners, who say they are innocent and have been held illegally in violation of their civil rights.

John Gibbons, a retired judge who represented the detainees, began his argument by saying, "What's at stake in the case is the authority of the federal courts to uphold the rule of law."

He said the U.S. government had created "a lawless enclave" at Guantanamo. About 595 foreign nationals have been designated "enemy combatants" and are being held at the base as suspected al Qaeda members or Taliban fighters.

Government lawyer Theodore Olson replied that the federal habeas corpus law that allows prisoners to challenge their detention does not apply to the Guantanamo detainees.

He argued that Cuba, under a lease with the United States concerning the base, has ultimate sovereignty and that places the detainees beyond the control of U.S. courts.

Most of those held at the base were seized during the U.S.-led campaign against the Taliban government in Afghanistan and against Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The first detainees arrived at Guantanamo in January of 2002.

Two of the detainees have been charged and face military commissions while four have been given lawyers. The rest are being held without charges, without access to lawyers and without access to courts or a proceeding of any kind.

The court's four more liberal justices appeared skeptical of Olson's arguments.

Justice David Souter asked whether bringing people from Afghanistan to Guantanamo was "the same thing in functional terms" as if they had been brought to Washington, D.C.

Olson sought to rely on a 1950 Supreme Court ruling which held U.S. courts lacked jurisdiction to consider challenges by German prisoners captured by U.S. forces during World War II while fighting with Japanese troops in China.

But Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the German prisoners had been tried and convicted by a military commission while the Guantanamo detainees have not been tried or convicted.


Justice John Paul Stevens also questioned whether the 1950 ruling applied to the Guantanamo detainees.

And Justice Stephen Breyer cited a number of problems with Olson's argument, including that the government's power would be unchecked and its interpretation of the habeas law may be contrary to "several hundred years of British history."

Several conservative justices appeared sympathetic to the government's position.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist said the rights under habeas corpus have never extended "to the battlefield" and he expressed concern about federal judges deciding such cases.

Justice Antonin Scalia said Congress, rather than the Supreme Court, would be better placed to decide whether to change the habeas corpus law to allow jurisdiction. "Congress could do all that," Scalia said.

It was not clear from the arguments how Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy, moderate conservatives who often control the outcome on the divided court, might vote. Justice Clarence Thomas did not ask any questions, but he usually votes with Rehnquist and Scalia.

The justices next hear arguments on April 28 on two more cases that involve whether Americans who have been designated "enemy combatants" can be held by the military in this nation.

Rulings in all the cases are due by the end of June.

19 detainees freed { March 24 2003 }
375 detainees at guantanamo not yet charged { April 3 2007 }
Afghan 15 years old had good time in guantanamo
Afghanistan to house new guantanamo jail { January 6 2006 }
Amnesty report calls gitmo gulag of our time { May 25 2005 }
AP observes guantanamo detention center
Arabs sold to guantanamo for bounties
Attempt suicide { August 15 2002 }
Australian hicks may have struck deal { December 6 2003 }
Blair wants britons back
British ex inmates sue rumsfeld for torture
Britons on guantanamo to be released in weeks { January 11 2005 }
Camp x ray
Children held guantanamo bay { April 24 2003 }
Cia runs prison within prison { December 17 2004 }
Commander relieved { October 14 2002 }
Court hears handling of detainees
Denies detainees court { August 1 2002 }
Detained pow photos
Detainee tribunals { November 18 2002 }
Detainees have some powerful friends { November 14 2003 }
Detainees innocent { December 22 2002 }
Detainees unaswered questions { November 22 2002 }
Enemy combantant { August 14 2002 }
Executions may be carried out at guantanamo { January 25 2006 }
Fair gitmo judge is replaced by military { May 31 2008 }
Family finds guantanamo suspect since 1996 { February 25 2004 }
Gauntanamo eyes execution chamber { June 10 2003 }
Gitmo detainees of little security value { June 21 2004 }
Gitmo released then is suicide bomber { May 7 2008 }
Growth of detention base
Guantanamo bay death trials { May 24 2003 }
Guantanamo laywers fired { December 3 2003 }
Guantanamo prisoners were experimented on
Hunder strike called serious by red cross
Lawyers for 13 detainees at guantamo bay challenge detentions { July 3 2004 }
Liberty guantanamo { October 24 2002 }
Loses appeal against due process { March 12 2003 }
Not entitled hearing { March 12 2003 }
Ontheir knees [jpg]
Pentagon ponders detainee transfers { March 11 2005 }
Pentagon wants permanent guantanamo
Pow1 [jpg]
Pow2 [jpg]
Pow3 [jpg]
Pow4 [jpg]
Released documents reveal stories of prisoners { March 4 2006 }
Rice looking forward to guantanamo closure
Ruling stalls prosecution of detainee
Security breaches suicidal detainees guantanamo
Senate strips guantanmo detainees right to sue { November 11 2005 }
Sole spanish prisoner held guantanamo released to spain { February 14 2004 }
Some guantanamo captives free { May 5 2003 }
Supreme court hear case detainees guantanamo { November 10 2003 }
Supreme court will hear first cases involving detainees
Surpreme court appears split on guantanamo prisoners
Swede detained at guantanamo released { July 8 2004 }
Terror detainees will be released
Three guantanamo detainees commit suicide { June 12 2006 }
Three youths returned to afghanistan
Trials to begin for 4 inmates { August 24 2004 }
UN report alleges violations of prisoner rights
Us brings charges to guantanamo inmates { February 24 2004 }
Us could execute british citizens
US hands over french prisoners from Guantanamo
Us releases 26 guantanamo detainees { March 16 2004 }
Us suspends proceedings against britons { July 18 2003 }
Us to release 140 guantanamo bay suspects
Xray inmate saw habib dazed and bleeding { May 22 2004 }

Files Listed: 69


CIA FOIA Archive

National Security
Support one-state solution for Israel and Palestine Tea Party bumper stickers JFK for Dummies, The Assassination made simple