Saturday, February 2, 2008

Tie goes to the detainees

Yesterday's 5-5 vote by a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., could leave it up to the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether suspected enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay should be allowed to review all evidence gathered in their cases by the federal government. The vote leaves in place an earlier ruling by a three-judge panel that the military could not decide what evidence to show prisoners who challenged their detentions under the U.S. Detainee Treatment Act. The U.S. Justice Department had requested the 10-judge panel to overrule the smaller panel, and is expected to ask the Supreme Court to intervene. If allowed to stand, the ruling could force the military to release substantially more information about Guantanamo detainees than it wants to. A spokesman in Washington, D.C., said the Justice Department was "disappointed" by the decision. "We are reviewing the decision and considering all our options," Chief Counsel Erik Ablin said yesterday, according to the Reuters international news agency. Combatant Status Review Tribunals have been held for more than 500 detainees, and 38 have been removed from enemy combatant status. But more than 100 have appealed. Judge A. Raymond Randolph, who voted to grant the review requested by the military, said the ruling means the government will have to share classified information with lawyers for the detainees. But Chief Judge Douglas Ginsburg said the government can still withhold sensitive information from detainee lawyers if it is made available to the court to review in secret.

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