Judge: Detainees denied rights

Published: Tuesday, February 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 1, 2005 at 12:47 a.m.
WASHINGTON - A federal judge here ruled Monday that the Bush administration has been wrongly blocking terrorism suspects held in Cuba from fighting their detention, and that the review procedure set up to determine whether they are "enemy combatants" is inherently unfair and unconstitutional.
Judge Joyce Hens Green, who has been reviewing claims filed by several dozen detainees at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, said the detainees were clearly entitled under a Supreme Court ruling last June to challenge the basis for their detention, despite administration arguments to the contrary.
"Although this nation unquestionably must take strong action under the leadership of the commander in chief to protect itself against enormous and unprecedented threats, that necessity cannot negate the existence of the most basic fundamental rights for which the people of this country have fought and died for well over 200 years," Green wrote.
Green's ruling clashes with one handed down on Jan. 19 by another federal judge, Richard J. Leon, who interpreted the Supreme Court ruling more narrowly in reviewing the cases of seven other detainees. Judge Green was appointed to the federal bench in 1979, during the Carter administration; Leon was appointed by President Bush in 2002.
Both judges sit on the district court in the nation's capital, making it virtually certain that the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals will be called upon to resolve the conflict. After that, the Supreme Court could yet again be asked to weigh the balance between individual liberties and national security, an issue that has assumed new urgency since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

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