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What We’ve All Been Waiting For: The Reach of Boumediene

In Boumediene v. Bush the Supreme Court held that alien enemy combatants detained in Guantanamo Bay have a right to Habeas Corpus, and the 2006 Military Commissions Act was not a proper suspension of that right. The Court’s decision in Boumediene left some to wonder whether the habeas right extends to all US detained enemy combatants or is limited to those held in Guantanamo Bay. The decision left others with serious concerns regarding national security and the executive’s ability to conduct an effective war. Justice Scalia expresses such concerns in his scathing dissent of the majority opinion. See here for a story on Lakhadar Boumediene.

Lawyers have finally decided to test the boundaries of Boumediene in the case of Maqaleh v. Gates. Maqaleh’s lawyers seek to extend habeas rights beyond Guantanomo across the Atlantic to the U.S. prison at Bagram Air Base, 40 miles north of Kabul, Afghanistan. John Judge D. Bates of the D.C. Circuit Court held that Maqeleh had a habeas right, basing his decision on Boumediene. President Obama quickly appealed that decision to the D.C. Circuit Court, which heard the case last Thursday, January 7, 2004. It will take the circuit court weeks if not months to decided this complex question. With over 600 detainees being held at Bagram, it is likely that whatever descision the circuit court makes will be appealed to the Supreme Court. See here for a discussion on the Circuit Court argument and the issues surrounding Boumediene.


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