As The New York Times reported on Friday, the Obama administration has decided to appeal Judge John Bates' ruling that granted Habeas rights to three foreign prisoners captured abroad who are being held at Bagram air base in Afghanistan. It's important to emphasize that the Bates decision did not interfere with the military's authority to detain individuals captured in a zone of active combat, but rather concluded that terrorist suspects who are captured outside Afghanistan cannot be relegated to a legal black hole at Bagram where they would be denied the right to appeal their detention. The Obama administration's move stands in stark contrast to statements Obama made during the campaign, particularly regarding the Boumediene decision that provided the legal precedent for Bates' ruling.

After the Boumediene decision, which held that detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison were entitled to challenge their detention in court, the Bush administration began transferring detainees captured in third countries to Bagram to avoid judicial scrutiny. This was not originally the Obama administration's problem, but they have actively taken ownership of it by asserting the same kind of authority as their predecessors. What the Obama administration is essentially arguing is that it has the authority to detain terror suspects indefinitely without trial and without charges. In case people are wondering whether or not the military review process is sufficient for determining whether or not there is reason to detain the individuals in question, Bates noted in his ruling that the process was was "inadequate" and "significantly less than the Guantanamo detainees in Boumediene received."

-- A. Serwer

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