Monday, January 5, 2009

Does Habeas Extend to Bagram?

Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog reports that U.S. District Judge John Bates (D.D.C.) will consider whether habeas corpus extends to prisoners at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan starting tomorrow.  The cases--Wazir v. Rumsfeld, Maqalah v. Rumsfeld, Al Bakri v. Gates, and Al-Najar v. Gates--test the reach of Boumediene v. Bush, last term's decision holding that the constitutional privilege of habeas extends to foreign nationals held at Guantanamo Bay, and Munaf v. Geren, last term's decision holding that the statutory right to habeas extends to U.S. citizens held at a military facility in Iraq. 

According to Denniston, the administration distinguishes Boumediene and Munaf, arguing that Bagram is in an active theater of war (not land closely controlled by the U.S. and outside the theater of war, like Guantanamo Bay) and that it holds foreign nationals (not U.S. citizens). 

Attorneys for the detainees argue that some of them have been held six years--and that any government argument against habeas has lost its force.

We'll watch these cases and report when anything substantial happens.


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