LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – The U.S. government cannot use new anti-terrorism laws to keep American residents locked up indefinitely without charging them, a divided federal appeals court said Monday, Associated Press report.
The ruling was a harsh rebuke of one of the central tools President George W. Bush’s administration believes it has to combat terror.
“To sanction such presidential authority to order the military to seize and indefinitely detain civilians, even if the President calls them ‘enemy combatants,’ would have disastrous consequences for the constitution — and the country,” the court panel said.
In the 2-1 decision, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel found that the federal Military Commissions Act doesn’t strip Ali al-Marri, a legal U.S. resident, of his constitutional rights to challenge his accusers in court. It ruled the government must allow Mr. al-Marri to be released from military detention.
The government intends to ask the full 4th Circuit to hear the case, Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said.
“The President has made clear that he intends to use all available tools at his disposal to protect Americans from further al-Qaeda attack, including the capture and detention of al-Qaeda agents who enter our borders,” Mr. Boyd said in a statement.