ENEMY COMBATANTS….The tide is turning, both politically and judicially, against holding enemy combatants indefinitely in military prisons:
In a stinging rejection of one of the Bush administration’s central assertions about the scope of executive authority to combat terrorism, a federal appeals court ordered the Pentagon to release a man being held as an enemy combatant.
“To sanction such presidential authority to order the military to seize and indefinitely detain civilians,” Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote, “even if the President calls them ‘enemy combatants,’ would have disastrous consequences for the Constitution — and the country.”
….[Ali al-Marri], whom the government calls a sleeper agent for Al Qaeda, was arrested on Dec. 12, 2001, in Peoria, Ill., where he was living with his family and studying computer science at Bradley University.
….A dissenting judge in today’s decision, Henry E. Hudson, visiting from the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, wrote that President Bush “had the authority to detain al-Marri as an enemy combatant or belligerent” because “he is the type of stealth warrior used by Al Qaeda to perpetrate terrorist acts against the United States.”
Hudson should be ashamed of himself. Al-Marri might be “the type of stealth warrior used by Al Qaeda,” but nobody’s denying that. The question at hand is whether the federal government is allowed to simply assert this indefinitely without evidence.
Question: Will the Bush administration allow al-Marri a trial, or will they appeal this to the Supreme Court and risk an adverse ruling? In the past they’ve played every legal game in the book to avoid the possibility of a definitive decision, but time may be running out. Eventually the Supremes are going to rule on this, and this might be the time. Stay tuned.