Compared with most other detainees at the US Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Abu Bakker Qassim and Adel Abdu al-Hakim have a strong argument for why they should be immediately released from the terrorism prison camp. According to the United States military, they are neither terrorists nor "enemy combatants."A federal judge says the men are being held illegaly, but he also says he can't do anything about it. So the Bush administration is imprisoning people it concedes are not terrorists, or combatants, or even criminals. In other words, we know who the real criminals are.
So why are they being held at the camp nearly a year after a military panel ruled that they pose no threat to the US? They have no place else to go. Their appeal for freedom suffered a setback Monday.
The US government says that if the two men are sent home to the semi-autonomous western region of China they might face human rights abuses, and even torture, at the hands of Chinese authorities. Both men are members of the Uighur minority religious and ethnic group which has been the target of a Chinese government crackdown in recent years. They were captured after being trained with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
No other country has been willing to take them. And the Bush administration refuses to allow them to enter the US, even temporarily, out of fear of establishing a legal precedent that might be used by lawyers for other Guantánamo detainees.
On Monday, the US Supreme Court declined to take up the case. Instead, the matter will be argued on May 8 before a federal appeals court panel in Washington, D.C. At issue is what power, if any, federal judges have in the matter....
Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.