Enemy Combatant Detainees: Habeas Corpus Challenges in Federal Court [September 15, 2009]   [open pdf - 577KB]

"After the U.S. Supreme Court held that U.S. courts have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 to hear legal challenges on behalf of persons detained at the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in connection with the war against terrorism (Rasul v. Bush), the Pentagon established administrative hearings, called 'Combatant Status Review Tribunals' (CSRTs), to allow the detainees to contest their status as enemy combatants, and informed them of their right to pursue relief in federal court by seeking a writ of habeas corpus. Lawyers subsequently filed dozens of petitions on behalf of the detainees in the District Court for the District of Columbia, where district court judges reached inconsistent conclusions as to whether the detainees have any enforceable rights to challenge their treatment and detention. […]. In March 2009, the Obama Administration announced a new definitional standard for the government's authority to detain terrorist suspects, which does not use the phrase 'enemy combatant' to refer to persons who may be properly detained. The new standard is similar in scope to the 'enemy combatant' standard used by the Bush Administration to detain terrorist suspects. The standard would permit the detention of members of the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and associated forces, along with persons who provide 'substantial support' to such groups, regardless of whether such persons were captured away from the battlefield in Afghanistan. Courts that have considered the Executive's authority to detain under the AUMF and law of war have reached differing conclusions as to the scope of this detention authority."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33180
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