The appeal: The Bush administration, looking to jump-start its stalled terrorism trials Friday, told a newly formed U.S. Court of Military Commission Review to look beyond the letter of the law and allow its case against Canadian detainee Omar Khadr, who is accused of killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan, to go forward.
The catch: The case hinges on a single word: Unlawful. Before terror suspects can be prosecuted before military commissions, the law requires that they be deemed "unlawful enemy combatants." But Guantanamo Bay tribunals have simply been calling its terrorism suspects "enemy combatants," which led a military judge to dismiss Khadr's case in June. The judge explained that "lawful" combatants are afforded prisoner-of-war and other rights under international law. The U.S. Court of Military Commission Review was created to resolve the issue.
From the bench: The three judges peppered both sides with questions but offered no hint about how they would rule. A ruling is expected within a month.
The consequences: If the three-judge U.S. Court of Military Commission Review upholds that ruling dismissing the case, the Pentagon might have to redo tribunals for dozens of detainees, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Other opinions: Twenty retired federal judges, two rear admirals and a Marine general joined 383 current or former members of the European and British parliaments in urging the Supreme Court to grant the terror detainees full access to the U.S. court system, instead of only the military court system. The court agreed to take the detainees' case in June.