Monday, September 14, 2009

Wire: Obama Admin Fights Afghan Detainee Court Access

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2009 -- Newswire services this evening reported that the Obama administration argued late Monday that allowing terrorism detainees in Afghanistan to file lawsuits in U.S. courts challenging their detention would endanger the military mission in that country.

The Associated Press reported that although the Pentagon is giving the roughly 600 detainees at Bagram Airfield a new chance to challenge their detentions, the Obama administration stuck with Bush administration policy in a court filing Monday night that said the Bagram detainees' rights shouldn't extend as far as U.S. courtrooms.

In a filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, the Justice Department said Bagram detainees should not be given equal rights to sue in the United States that the Supreme Court granted last year to detainees being held at the Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba, AP said.

The administration argued in its brief that Bagram is in an active war zone and the sovereign nation of Afghanistan, and there are sensitive diplomatic considerations involving detainees held there. That's in contrast to Cuba, AP reported, which has no diplomatic relations with the United States and does not have the security implications of a war zone, the administration said.

The filing was made in response to a ruling in April by U.S. District Judge John Bates, who said foreign detainees at Bagram should be allowed to sue in U.S. civilian courts to challenge their confinement. Bates said the cases of the Guantanamo and Bagram detainees were essentially the same -- the first time a federal judge applied the Supreme Court's ruling on Guantanamo detainees to those held elsewhere in the world, AP said.

The filing comes as reports surfaced that the Pentagon has a new policy for Bagram detainees to challenge their detentions before military review boards. The prisoners will be given a U.S. military official to serve as their personal representative to help argue their case and for the first time they will be able to call witnesses and submit evidence in their defense.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Related: Pentagon: Afghan Detention Facility to Implement Case Reviews

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