Court Puts 17 Detainees’ Freedom on Hold

Seventeen Uighurs—innocent members of the Chinese Muslim minority caught up in the war on terror dragnet and sent to Guantánamo—have had their release blocked by a Federal Appeals Court. This overturns a District Court ruling that the men should be released because they had not fought against the U.S. and posed no security threat. The three-judge panel ruling overturning the District Court decision was unanimous, but there was disagreement as to the legality of a judge ordering the detainees be freed in America:

The majority said the Supreme Court decision, Boumediene v. Bush, did not give judges the power to release detainees in this country. “Never in the history of habeas corpus,” the majority wrote, “has any court thought it had the power to order an alien held overseas brought into the sovereign territory of a nation and released into the general population.” But Judge Judith W. Rogers disagreed, writing that Wednesday’s ruling “ignores the very purpose” of the writ of habeas corpus, to serve as “a check on arbitrary executive power.”

If Judge Urbina did not have the power to order the men released in the United States, the Supreme Court’s decision would have no meaning, wrote Judge Rogers, a Clinton appointee.

The Uighurs have had varying degrees of luck in finding asylum in other countries, but given that they are no threat and what the U.S. has done to their lives, I don’t see why they should not be released here.

Anthony Gregory is a former Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the Independent books American Surveillance and The Power of Habeas Corpus in America.
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