Judge’s ruling is forcing president to confront issue of Afghan prison

By Tom Curry, National affairs writer, msnbc.com

June 3, 2009

Should detainees the United States has shipped to the Bagram air base in Afghanistan have the same constitutional right to challenge their detention in court that prisoners at the Guantanamo prison in Cuba have been given?

President Barack Obama didn't answer that question in a May 21 speech outlining his policy for dealing with alleged terrorists. In fact, Obama didn't mention Bagram at all.

Yet human rights lawyers say Bagram will play a critical role in shaping the Obama administration’s detainee policy.

Obama has promised to close the Guantanamo prison by Jan. 22 of next year, but the Bagram prison continues to house alleged terrorists captured by the United States in Pakistan and other nations.

As a candidate for president, Obama praised a Supreme Court ruling last June that granted prisoners at Guantanamo habeas corpus rights to challenge their detention. He applauded Justice Anthony Kennedy’s decision in Boumediene v. Bush as “a rejection of the Bush administration's attempt to create a legal black hole at Guantanamo.”...

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