More Maneuvers on Guantanamo Bay

The legal maneuvers over the rights of war on terrorism detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Naval base continue today, as federal circuit court judges in Washington, D.C., grapple with the real-life effects of last month's Supreme Court ruling on the matter.

In June, the Court held that detainees Guantanamo have legal rights under the US Constitution, most importantly, the right of habeas corpus, which requires that they have access to US civilian courts to challenge their detention.

After a meeting last week with detainee lawyers and officials from the Justice Department, Chief Judge Royce Lamberth labeled it "a constructive step in our effort to move the cases forward in the most efficient and expeditious manner possible."

Basically, the appeals court is going to have to deal with several hundred of these matters, so it's not as easy as scheduling one or two hearings and thinking about how early everyone can leave to play golf.

There are less than 300 detainees still at Guantanamo and one would think that most of them - if not all - would get their day in court at some point under this 5-4 decision from the Supreme Court.

But, there is an effort to stop that before it starts.

The White House and some lawmakers in the Congress are looking at another legislative fix to this issue - mind you, the previous two have both been rejected by the Justices.

This latest effort would limit the scope of last month's Supreme Court ruling, and not allow detainees to challenge their detentions.

But with time running out on this administration and Democrats in control of both houses of the Congress, such a legislative fix seems a bit of a longshot.

Also still up in the air is the future of Guantanamo's terrorist prison, which many in the Congress want to close down.

Those are questions that may ultimately be settled by the next President.

In the meantime, the legal wheels will keep spinning on the detainee issue.  Today that happens just down the street from the Capitol and Supreme Court, right along Pennsylvania Avenue, where the new President will parade by in just over six months.

About the Author