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Supreme Court turns down appeals from Guantanamo Bay detainees

June 11, 2012|By David G. Savage
  • The high court rejected the appeals of seven Guantanamo Bay inmates.
The high court rejected the appeals of seven Guantanamo Bay inmates. (Jacquelyn Martin / Associated…)

Washington — The Supreme Court made clear Monday it is not willing to closely review the claims of the remaining Guantanamo Bay detainees, as the justices turned down appeals from seven inmates without comment.

The court has left it to the Obama administration and federal judges in Washington to decide whether the detainees can be held indefinitely as military prisoners.

Advocates for the detainees said they were disappointed. “The court has effectively abandoned its commitment to ensuring that individuals held in long-term detention at Guantanamo obtain meaningful review of their imprisonment,” said Jonathan Hafetz, a law professor at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

Four years ago this month, the detainees’ lawyers celebrated what they saw as a historic victory in the Supreme Court.  The justices, in a 5-4 decision, ruled that the Constitution guaranteed the detainees the right to habeas corpus and to seek their freedom before a federal judge.

But that decision did not spell out the rules for deciding such claims.

Since then, the U.S. court of appeals in Washington set a high bar for detainees who filed claims. Its judges ruled that the military’s field reports describing the circumstances of a detainee’s capture should be presumed as accurate.

Lawyers for Adnan Latif said he had gone to Pakistan for medical treatment. But the U.S. military said he was a fleeing fighter for the Taliban when he was captured.

When a federal judge ruled for Latif and said he deserved to be released, the administration appealed and won a reversal in the court of appeals.

His lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court, but his case, Latif v. Obama, was one of the seven appeals turned down on Monday.

The Obama administration said it has agreed to the release of several dozen detainees since taking office, but whenever it has objected to a judge's decision, it has won in the U.S. court of appeals. So far, no detainee has been set free based solely on a judge’s decision.

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david.savage@latimes.com

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