Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Activist judges tell Bush he needs evidence to detain people

We have fallen so far that a headline like this is necessary:

    Judges Cite Need for Reliable Evidence To Hold Detainees
We used to be able to take the rule of law for granted in this country. Now it is considered newsworthy when federal judges assert that the government should be able to articulate a reason for putting people behind bars.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit wrote in a 39-page opinion released yesterday that tribunals and courts must be able to assess whether evidence is reliable before determining the fate of detainees.

That did not happen in the case of Huzaifa Parhat, a Chinese Uighur determined to be an enemy combatant by a tribunal that relied heavily on questionable evidence in classified documents, the appeals court found.

The ruling, the first successful appeal of a detainee's designation as an enemy combatant, ordered the government to release, transfer or hold a new hearing for Parhat. The opinion was issued on June 20 and was declassified and released yesterday.
A Justice Department spokesman says the Bush administration is "reviewing its options."

Let's hope those options include a willingness to prove that people behind bars deserve to be there.

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