03 January 2006

Hamdan Case Shut Down?

SCOTUS Blog is reporting that the new "new defense authorization bill, H.R. 2863, that contains the 'Detainee Treatment Act of 2005' as part of its Title X, 'Matters Relating to Detainees.'", will be used to shut down cases involving the administration's enemy combatant policy, most notably perhaps the Hamdan case which has been accepted for review by the U.S. Supreme Court which examines the legality of the Guantanamo Bay detentions, and the related Al Odah case which is currently being considered by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. A favorable result for the detainees would obliterate the Presiden'ts enemy combatant policy. An unfavorable one would be a landmark in narrowing the scope of the Bill of Rights.

Not everyone is convinced that the law ends these cases (it was the object of much of the debate over the bill and the legislators who drafted it are arguing over what the deal means themselves), but there is little doubt that the law purports to strip detainees rights to litigate their detention going forward by limiting the jurisdiction of the federal courts over such cases. The law may also severely limit court efforts to intervene in the illegal CIA prison camps the U.S. has set up in places like Europe, despite U.S. claims that it will not torture (forced upon it by the McCain amendment to the same bill). H.R. 2863 does provide Congressional guidance, at least. But, the guidance it provides is not very wise.

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