Friday, November 11, 2005


Senate Approves Limiting Rights of U.S. Detainees

Published: November 11, 2005

WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 - The Senate voted Thursday to strip captured "enemy combatants" at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, of the principal legal tool given to them last year by the Supreme Court when it allowed them to challenge their detentions in United States courts.

The vote, 49 to 42, on an amendment to a military budget bill by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, comes at a time of intense debate over the government's treatment of prisoners in American custody worldwide, and just days after the Senate passed a measure by Senator John McCain banning abusive treatment of them.

If approved in its current form by both the Senate and the House, which has not yet considered the measure but where passage is considered likely, the law would nullify a June 2004 Supreme Court opinion that detainees at Guantánamo Bay had a right to challenge their detentions in court.

Nearly 200 of roughly 500 detainees there have already filed habeas corpus motions, which are making their way up through the federal court system. As written, the amendment would void any suits pending at the time the law was passed.

The vote also came in the same week that the Supreme Court announced that it would consider the constitutionality of war crimes trials before President Bush's military commissions for certain detainees at Guantánamo Bay, a case that legal experts said might never be decided by the court if the Graham amendment became law.
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