Supremes To Hear al-Marri Case

Ken AshfordConstitution, Supreme Court, War on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

Background: al-Marri is a citizen of Qatar.  He was in the United States, studying at Bradley University.  He was arrested in Peoria, Illinois, in December 2001 on charges of credit card fraud, identity fraud, and a few other things.

This charges were dropped when Bush declared him an "enemy combatant" in 2003.  He's been sitting in Naval Consolidated Brig, Charleston in South Carolina (he's not a Gitmo detainee).  No charges are pending against him.  No trial or anything.  He's just sitting there.  In solitary. Subjected to extreme cold, with insufficient bedding and clothing

Legal Issue:  Can a person be locked up indefinitely simply because the President declares him to be an "enemy combatant"?

Look, I don't know if al-Marri is guilty of plotting terrorist attacks or not.  That's hardly the point.  The point is that we don't want the President — any President — to have the power to jail someone indefinitely, simply by declaring them an "enemy combatant".  Shouldn't there be a mechanism by which the government has to prove a person is an "enemy combatant"?   Like — oh, I don't know — a trial?

The Supreme Court in June rebuked Bush in a landmark ruling that prisoners held at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo can go before federal judges in Washington to seek their release. There are now about 250 prisoners at Guantanamo.

It also ruled against the Bush administration in three other war-on-terrorism cases in 2006 and 2004.

The Supreme Court most likely will hear arguments in Marri's case in March, with a decision expected by the end of June — and I suspect the Bush administration will lose again.  (Actually, it may be moot by then, if Obama changes the policy).