Monday, February 4, 2008

D.C. Court Gives Gitmo Detainees U.S. Citizen Rights

In a story totally ignored by the U.S. mainstream media, probabaly to avoid any hard questions to Democrat (that includes McCain, too) candidates in the in the run up to super Tuesday primaries, the International Herald Tribune reports a federal appeals court ruled against the Bush administration Friday in a central case on Guantánamo detainees, declining to reconsider an order that the government has to turn over virtually all its information on many detainees.
Unless the Justice Department obtains a stay, the decision, from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, will clear the way for detainees' lawyers to press 180 appeals cases of inmates at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, challenging their detentions. The cases contest decisions by military panels that the men are properly held as unlawful enemy combatants.

In the new decision, Chief Judge Douglas Ginsburg of the appellate court wrote that letting the government withhold information on detainees from their lawyers and the court "would render utterly meaningless judicial review" of the military panels' decisions.

The full appeals court, in a 5-5 decision, declined to reconsider a decision last year by a three-judge panel from that court. A majority vote was needed to reconsider.
Congress has passed legislation striping the courts of the power to hear the habeas cases and provided for the more limited route to contest the military findings in the appeals court in Washington.

In the appeals court decision, Ginsburg took note of the controversy surrounding the panels. A detainee, he wrote, "has little ability to gather his own evidence, no right to confront the witnesses against him and no lawyer to help him prepare his case."

Read it.