Obama Appeals Bagram Detainee Ruling

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The Obama administration has appealed a ruling from a district court judge that some detainees at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan are entitled to challenge the reasons for their detentions.  Last week, Judge Paul D. Bates granted limited habaes corpus rights to three of the four detainees involved in the case, rejecting the government's claim that federal courts had no jurisdiction there.  The government claims otherwise, believing that Supreme Court cases haven't yet extended a constitutional (as opposed to statuatory) right to habaes corpus hearings for all detainees, everywhere.  If overturned (and not subsequently over-overturned), the Obama administration would be able to capture and detain prisoners at Bagram for the duration of the conflict against Afghanistan --- a legal "black hole" outside the purview of American courts.  The decision to appeal the ruling reflects a consensus opinion within the administration that it retains the power to detain battlefield combatans and determine their status; even though the legal authority for detaining the Gitmo detainees was transfered to Congress, the administration still believes it has an inherent right to exercise such power. 

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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