By Andy Worthington
March 10, 2009 “fff“
Two weeks ago, when the Obama administration announced that it was bringing to an end the disturbing isolation endured by Ali al-Marri, a U.S. resident who has been held without charge or trial for seven years and two months — and who, most worryingly, has spent the last five years and nine months as an “enemy combatant” in solitary confinement in the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, South Carolina — it was clear that one of the Bush administration’s most arrogant and un-American policies was coming to an end.
President Obama clearly regarded al-Marri’s imprisonment as significant, as he issued a presidential memorandum on his second day in office ordering the Justice Department to review the Qatari national’s case, and the announcement that al-Marri was to be moved out of his seemingly endless legal limbo and into the federal court system demonstrated that, in this specific case at least, the president was sticking to his word.
However, what worried al-Marri’s lawyers — and those, like myself, who have been following his case closely — was that the president’s decision would also bring to an end al-Marri’s pending Supreme Court challenge, in which the nation’s most powerful judges were scheduled to review whether or not the president — any president, not just a member of the Bush family — had the right to designate as an “enemy combatant” any person accused of terrorism arrested on American soil, whether a citizen or a resident, and to imprison them indefinitely without charge or trial.
As a result, you may be thinking that the president no longer has the power to hold Americans without charge or trial as “enemy combatants,” but if this is the case then you may be — and should be — dismayed to learn that a previous ruling to this effect still stands, which was not addressed by the Supreme Court, and which has not been addressed by the Obama administration either.
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