A three-judge panel of US Court of Appeals in Washington DC July 20 ordered the government to turn over virtually all its information on Guantanamo detainees who are challenging their detention, rejecting an effort by the Justice Department to limit disclosures. The ruling opens the way for scores of cases by detainees challenging the actions of Pentagon tribunals that decide whether terror suspects should be held as “enemy combatants.” It is the latest in a series of legal challenges to the administration’s detention policies that have increased the pressure on the White House to find an alternative to Guantanamo, where about 360 men are now being held.
The court said meaningful review of the military tribunals would not be possible “without seeing all the evidence, any more than one can tell whether a fraction is more or less than half by looking only at the numerator and not the denominator.” P. Sabin Willett, a Boston lawyer who argued the case for detainees, called the ruling “a resounding rejection of the government’s effort to hide the truth.” Justice Department spokesman Erik Ablin said the department is “reviewing the decision’s implications and evaluating our options.”
The ruling was made in the first case under a 2005 law (the Detainee Treatment Act) that provides for limited appeals court review of the military’s Guantanamo hearings, known as “combatant status review tribunals.” (NYT, UPI, July 21)
See our last post on the torture/detainment scandal.