Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 By Andy Worthington

July 6, 2009

In a depressing if predictable decision last Monday, District Court Judge John D. Bates ruled that Haji Wazir, an Afghan businessman seized in the United Arab Emirates in 2002 and rendered to the US prison at Bagram airbase, can continue to be held as a prisoner without rights, even though he has never had an adequate opportunity to test whatever allegations the US military is using to justify his detention, and even though he has been given no sign of when, if ever, his detention will come to an end.

In a heroic ruling three months ago, Judge Bates demolished the position taken by the Bush administration — and slavishly followed by the Justice Department under President Obama — which maintained that all prisoners held at Bagram were beyond the reach of the US courts, and, specifically, beyond the reach of Boumediene v. Bush, the Supreme Court ruling that granted habeas corpus rights to the Guantánamo prisoners in June 2008.

Discerning that there were, in fact, significant differences between Afghans held in Bagram — in an active war zone — and foreigners seized outside Afghanistan and rendered to the prison, Judge Bates ruled that Boumediene extended to the foreign prisoners, because, as he explained, “the detainees themselves as well as the rationale for detention are essentially the same,” and because, without it, it was impossible to review the legality of Executive detention.

 

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