U. S. District Judge John Bates of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that three prisoners who were arrested outside of Afghanistan and who are not Afghani citizens can have their writs of habeas corpus heard in Federal Court. The decision further challenges the Bush/Obama policy of indefinitely holding enemy combatants without court scrutiny. It involve interpretation of the suspension clause of the Constitution which prohibits suspension of the writ of habeas corpus except in cases of rebellion or invasion and it has generally been assumed to be limited to acts of Congress. The case involved writs of habeas corpus filed by Fadi al Maqaleh, Haji Wazir, Amil al Bakri and Redha Al-Najar. The Judge found little difference between the petitioners, with the exception of Wazir who is an Afghani citizen, and the Guantanamo petitioners in Boumediene who were granted the right of habeas corpus by the Supreme Court. Both the Bagram petitioners and the Guantanamo petitioners were seized in different countries and renditioned to either Guantanamo or Bagram. Both were labeled enemy combatants, though the government has now changed the label for the Guantanamo prisoners. Both groups are in prisons over which the United States has complete control. Finally both groups are in locations chosen by the United States.
As in Bourmediene the Court considered six factors:
(1) the citizenship of the detainee; (2) the status of the detainee; (3) the adequacy of the process through which the status determination was made; (4) the nature of the site of apprehension; (5) the nature of the site of detention; and (6) the practical obstacles inherent in resolving the petitioner’s entitlement to the writ.
With the exception of Wazir who is an Afghani citizen the court found that the petitioners were no different than the Guantanamo petitioners and must be granted the right of habeas corpus. The court ruled that
Under Boumediene, Bagram detainees who are not Afghan citizens, who were not captured in Afghanistan, and who have been held for an unreasonable amount of time — here, over six years — without adequate process may invoke the protections of the Suspension Clause, and hence the privilege of habeas corpus.
Of course, Judge Bates’ decision is subject to appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.