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Friday, June 22, 2007

Guantanamo tribunal officer says CSRTs pressured on 'enemy combatant' rulings
Mike Rosen-Molina at 7:21 PM ET

[JURIST] The Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRT) [DOD materials] at Guantanamo Bay were pressured to declare detainees "enemy combatants" based on vague or incomplete evidence, according to a Friday affidavit [PDF text] filed with a DC appeals court by a US army officer involved in the tribunals. The statement by Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham, who said he worked as a liaison between the CSRT and intelligence agencies, is the first such public criticism by a member of a CSRT. Abraham filed the affidavit on behalf of Fawzi al-Odah [Amnesty International profile], a Kuwaiti detainee who is contesting his status as an "enemy combatant," after being approached by al-Odah's lawyer David Cynamon [firm profile]. Abraham also said that intelligence agencies often arbitrarily withheld information from both defense and prosecution. The Department of Defense had no immediate reaction, but a spokesman said officials were preparing a response. AP has more.

In May, the US DC Circuit Court of Appeals [official website] heard arguments in a case brought by Guantanamo Bay detainees challenging their designation as 'enemy combatants.' Last year, Congress passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [PDF text], which barred Guantanamo prisoners from challenging their indefinite detention but did allow them to appeal their "enemy combatants" [JURIST news archive] status to the appeals court. In April, the US Supreme Court declined [JURIST report] to hear a lawsuit brought by two Guantanamo Bay detainees challenging the legality of Congress' decision to deny habeas challenges by suspected terrorists under the Military Commissions Act. The same month, the Court declined to hear [JURIST report] another case brought by other Guantanamo detainees on whether those prisoners could challenge their detention in US federal court.

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