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DC Circuit Upholds Broad US Power to Detain Terrorism Suspects

Posted Jan 5, 2010 12:57 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A federal appeals court has taken a broad view of the government’s power to detain Guantanamo terrorism suspects.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled today that the president’s power to detain terrorism suspects is not limited by international law, SCOTUSblog reports. Instead, domestic law applies.

“The international laws of war as a whole have not been implemented domestically by Congress and are therefore not a source of authority for U.S. courts,” the court said in its opinion (PDF posted by SCOTUSblog).

The court upheld the detention of Yemeni citizen Ghaleb Nassar Al-Bihani, who admits he served in a paramilitary group associated with the Taliban but denies he received al-Qaida training. Al-Bihani says he served as the group’s cook, and although he carried a weapon, he never fired it in combat, according to opinion.

SCOTUSblog says the practical result of the ruling may be that fewer detainees will be able to win court orders for their release.


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