By Charlie Savage Published: February 22, 2009
WASHINGTON: The Obama administration has told a U.S. judge that military detainees in Afghanistan have no legal right to challenge imprisonment, embracing a top argument of former President George W. Bush’s legal team.
In a filing Friday, the Justice Department said that the new administration had reviewed its position in a case brought by prisoners at the U.S. Air Force base at Bagram, just north of the Afghan capital. The Obama team determined that the Bush policy was correct and that such prisoners could not sue for their release.
“Having considered the matter, the government adheres to its previously articulated position,” wrote Michael Hertz, an acting assistant attorney general.
The power of civilian federal judges to review individual decisions by the executive branch to hold a terrorism suspect as an enemy combatant was one of the most contentious legal issues surrounding Bush. For years, Bush’s legal team argued that U.S. judges had no authority under the Constitution to hear challenges by detainees being held at the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and elsewhere.
The Supreme Court rejected the Bush administration’s legal view for prisoners held at Guantánamo in landmark rulings in 2004 and 2006. But those rulings were based on the idea that the prison was on U.S. soil for constitutional purposes, based on the unique legal circumstances and history of the naval base.
After becoming president last month, Obama issued orders requiring strict adherence to anti-torture rules and the closure of the Guantánamo prison within a year. He also ordered a review of whether conditions there met the standards of humane treatment required by the Geneva Conventions, and a review of what could be done with each of the 245 detainees at the prison.
Government officials said Friday that a Pentagon official had completed the Guantánamo report, concluding that the site complies with Geneva Convention requirements for humane treatment, including procedures for force-feeding prisoners on hunger strikes by strapping them down and inserting a nasal tube, a practice prisoners’ lawyers have denounced. The report does recommend that some prisoners be given greater human contact, however.
(HH here: Now if the Republicans would just stop listeining to whining losers like Limbaugh and reach out as much as Obama is. It is funny how annoyed the hard Left fools have been since Obama took office )