Judge Rules Some Detainees Can be Held Forever without Charge

Friday, May 22, 2009
Judge John D. Bates

Lost among the news on Wednesday of the Senate’s rejection of President Barack Obama’s plan to close down the prison at Guantánamo Bay was a federal court ruling that said the government can continue to hold certain terrorism suspects indefinitely without trial.

District Judge John D. Bates, a George W. Bush appointee, ruled in a 22-page opinion that detainees who were members of al Qaeda or the Taliban, or who directly participated in attacks against the U.S., can be held in prison indefinitely without being brought up on charges. The judge also ruled that anyone who “receives and executives orders or directions” from those groups may be detained, even if the suspect never directly participated in hostilities.
Justice Department attorneys weren’t entirely satisfied with the ruling. In addition to holding forever people who fall into these categories, the Obama administration had sought justification to also detain people who merely “supported” terrorist organizations.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Judge Issues Split Ruling on Who Can Be Detained (by Charlie Savage, New York Times)
Court Opinion on Detainee Cases (United States District Court for the District of Columbia)


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