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Homeland Security

Supreme Court Rules Against Bush Administration on Guantanamo Trials

29 June 2006

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against the Bush administration in a case involving military tribunals for the Guantanamo prison detainees.

In a 5-3 decision Thursday, the court said President Bush overstepped his powers by setting up special war crime tribunals for terrorism suspects. The tribunals have been one of the more controversial aspects of the administration's war on terror policy.

The closely-watched case focused on Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who had worked as a bodyguard and driver for Osama bin Laden.

The White House argued that as commander-in-chief in wartime, the president has the authority to set up the tribunals. Lawyers for the administration said Hamdan and other detainees at Guantanamo Bay are considered what they called "enemy combatants" and should be tried as war criminals.

International human rights advocates and many U.S. allies have criticized the Bush administration for holding the 400 plus detainees indefinitely without trial.

Two years ago, the court rejected President Bush's claim to have authority to hold detainees indefinitely without access to courts or lawyers.

The administration said the prisoners did not have the protection of the Geneva Conventions, although it argued they were being treated in conditions "consistent" with those rights.

President Bush says he would like to close the facility, but says the detainees are dangerous terrorists.

Chief Justice John Roberts did not take part in the decision because of his involvement in an earlier stage of the case.

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