Supreme Court turns down appeals from Gitmo detainees
- Article by: DAVID G. SAVAGE
- Tribune Washington Bureau
- June 12, 2012 - 9:19 AM
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court made clear Monday it is not willing to closely review the claims of the remaining Guantanamo Bay detainees, as the justices turned down appeals from seven inmates without comment.
The court has left it to the Obama administration and federal judges in Washington to decide whether the detainees can be held indefinitely as military prisoners.
Advocates for the detainees said they are disappointed.
"The court has effectively abandoned its commitment to ensuring that individuals held in long-term detention at Guantanamo obtain meaningful review of their imprisonment," said Jonathan Hafetz, a law professor at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.
Four years ago this month, the detainees' lawyers celebrated what they saw as a historic victory in the Supreme Court. The justices, in a 5-4 decision, ruled that the Constitution guaranteed the detainees the right to habeas corpus and to seek their freedom before a federal judge.
But that decision did not spell out the rules for deciding such claims.
Since then, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington set a high bar for detainees who filed claims. Its judges ruled that the military's field reports describing the circumstances of a detainee's capture should be presumed as accurate.
Lawyers for the detainees had been particularly hopeful that the justices might review the case of a Yemeni man, Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, who was picked up near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan in December 2001. The government has relied on an intelligence report prepared at the time to justify holding him.
His lawyers said he had gone to Pakistan for medical treatment. But the U.S. military said he was a fleeing fighter for the Taliban when he was captured.
When a federal judge ruled for Latif and said he deserved to be released, the administration appealed and won a reversal in the Court of Appeals.
His lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court, but his case, Latif v. Obama, was one of the seven appeals turned down on Monday.
The Obama administration said it has agreed to the release of several dozen detainees since taking office, but whenever it has objected to a judge's decision, it has won in the U.S. Court of Appeals. So far, no detainee has been set free based solely on a judge's decision.
The justices also declined Monday to hear an appeal from Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen who was held for more than three years as an enemy combatant at the Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. He was eventually moved to the civilian court system and was convicted on terrorism-related charges.
The New York Times contributed to this report
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