We’re not quite sure this is what Lakhdar Boumediene had in mind when he asked the United States Supreme Court to decide whether he and his fellow Guantanamo detainees had the right to challenge their detention in federal court. He won his case in June, but early signs still leave much doubt about the fairness of the government’s handling of these cases.
On Thursday last week, District Court Judge Richard Leon began habeas hearings for six Algerian men who have been held at Guantanamo since 2002. Judge Leon, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, ruled that these men had no right to habeas corpus in 2005, but was overruled by the Supreme Court’s latest decision in Boumediene v. Bush. Forced to reconsider, Judge Leon ruled two weeks ago that only those who directly support hostile acts against the U.S. can be held indefinitely as enemy combatants.
While this definition is certainly more favorable than some of the lax associations used to justify indefinite detainment by the Bush administration, it is still quite broad. As the first few days of the Algerians’ habeas hearing displays, court procedures are still stacked against the accused. As the New York Times reports, the men have not been allowed to attend their own hearing, will not be allowed to hear classified evidence against them, and due to technical problems, could not even hear opening statements by their lawyers.
Call us crazy, but this still sounds like a kangaroo court to us!