Supreme Court rejects Guantánamo detainees' appeals for better protections
The appeals of three Guantánamo detainees are among the first dealing with this issue to emerge from the Washington federal appeals court. The Supreme Court refused the cases without comment.
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• Expanded the potential pool of overseas detainees by ruling that the government is authorized to imprison not only individuals who participated in the 9/11 terror attacks or who harbored such persons, but also anyone who helped those who harbored persons involved in the 9/11 attacks.Skip to next paragraph
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• Embraced a permissive standard of evidence in Guantánamo cases, allowing the government to rely on hearsay evidence that normally would be excluded from a federal trial.
• Allowed a permissive standard of proof in Guantánamo cases, establishing that the government need only prove its case for continued detention of a detainee by a preponderance of evidence, the lowest standard available.
Lawyers for the three detainees at issue filed appeals asking the Supreme Court to reverse the appeals court and establish more-robust protections in detainee cases.
They said higher standards are justified in part because many detainees have been held for nearly a decade without a trial and face the prospect of remaining in US custody for the rest of their lives.
The Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, supports the standards and procedures established by the appeals court. “The lower courts have properly performed the task that this court assigned them in Boumediene v. Bush,” wrote Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler in his brief urging the court to dismiss the appeals.
“Nothing in the Constitution or any other source of law requires the application of different standards or procedures,” he said.
The stories of each of the three detainees share common elements, but each story features important differences as well.
A cook for Taliban backers
Ghaleb Nassar al-Bihani is a Yemeni national who was captured in Afghanistan by the Northern Alliance and turned over to US forces in early 2002. He was a cook for the 55th Arab Brigade, a paramilitary force of volunteers who went to Afghanistan to help the Taliban government fight the Northern Alliance.
Mr. Bihani’s lawyers say he was issued a firearm, but that he never used it. They argue that he did not take up arms against the United States, played no role in the 9/11 attacks, and did not harbor or assist those who did. Instead, they say, he was present in Afghanistan to help the Taliban, not Al Qaeda.
Now that the conflict between the Taliban and the US is over, they say, he should be released from Guantánamo. They add that the US government has provided no evidence that Bihani poses a threat to US security.
In rejecting Bihani’s petition, the appeals court said that anyone assisting the Taliban was also, by extension, assisting Al Qaeda and could be detained as a terror suspect at Guantánamo indefinitely.
Yemeni national in Afghan hospital
The second detainee, Adham Mohammed Ali Awad, is a Yemeni national who traveled to Afghanistan in September 2001. The government maintains that he traveled there to obtain weapons training at an Al Qaeda camp and join the fight against US forces. Mr. Awad’s lawyers say he went to Afghanistan to visit another Muslim country for a few months before returning home.