The 2008 Supreme Court case Boumediene v. Bush ruled that Gitmo detainees – who had been caged indefinitely without charge or trial – could challenge their detentions in U.S. courts. Briefly thereafter, we saw a great number of Gitmo detainees released on the grounds that there was not enough evidence for their guilt. Under Obama’s reign though, habeas corpus rights for those accused of terrorism have been wrenched back. Adam Serwer at Mother Jones:
But in the years since the decision, conservative judges on the DC Circuit have interpreted the law in a way that assumes many of the government’s claims are true and don’t have to be proven in court. By not taking any of these cases, the Supreme Court has ensured these stricter rules will prevail. Civil-libertarian groups say that essentially leaves detainees at Gitmo with habeas rights in name only, since the rules make it virtually impossible for detainees to win in court. A Seton Hall University School of Law report from May found that, prior to the DC Circuit’s reinterpretation of the rules, detainees won 56 percent of cases. Afterwards, they won 8 percent.
…As a presidential candidate in 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama praised the Boumediene decision. Earlier this year, his administration urged the Supreme Court not to take the Gitmo detainees’ appeal, leaving in place legal standards that civil libertarians argue render Boumediene almost meaningless.
Gitmo detainees have now lost virtually every avenue—other than dying in detention—for leaving the detention camp. Congress has curtailed transfers to other countries by making the restrictions on them nearly impossible to meet. Gitmo detainees can’t be brought to the United States for trial in federal court. And the Supreme Court has now effectively blessed legal standards that make success in court almost impossible. There are now 169 detainees left at Gitmo, and like the facility itself, they aren’t going anywhere.
Given the fact that the Republican Party doesn’t object to the Democratic Party’s swift embrace of George W. Bush’s detention policies, this issue is decidedly irrelevant. We will not hear about it in the upcoming Obama-Romney debates. Therefore, so-called liberals won’t have to answer for why they’re supporting the re-election of a candidate who has come to embody his oh-so-hated predecessor. Instead we’ll just hear unchallenged election-fever hysteria.