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Commentary :: Civil & Human Rights

BTL:Federal Courts Challenge President's Authority to...

...Hold Terror Suspects Without Due Process. Interview with Ken Hurwitz, staff attorney, Lawyers Committee on Human Rights, conducted by Between the Lines' Scott Harris
Federal Courts Challenge President's Authority to Hold Terror Suspects Without Due Process

Interview with Ken Hurwitz, staff attorney, Lawyers Committee on Human Rights, conducted by Scott Harris

Contrary to international law, the Bush administration has held some 660 prisoners captured in Afghanistan, several who are juveniles, at the U.S. Navy's prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba without charge for up to 24 months. In June 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the arrest of Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen, whom the government alleged was working with the al Qaeda terrorist network to explode a radioactive dirty bomb in an American city. Designating Mr. Padilla an enemy combatant, the White House has held him in a South Carolina Navy brig without charge while denying him access to an attorney.

Since the Bush administration invoked executive powers denying due process to individuals suspected of engaging in terrorist activities, civil liberties activists have worked to overturn these policies in the courts. On Dec. 18, two federal appeals courts reviewing separate cases challenged the president's authority. The court in New York declared that the administration does not have the power to hold U.S. citizens indefinitely merely by branding them an enemy combatant. The appellate court in San Francisco ruled that holding prisoners of war without access to U.S legal protections was unconstitutional and a violation of international law.

Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Ken Hurwitz, staff attorney with the Lawyers Committee on Human Rights, who assesses these recent federal court decisions and what's at stake in an expected review of the cases by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Contact the Lawyers Committee on Human Rights by calling (212) 845-5200 or visit their website at www.lchr.org

Related links:

"Jose Padilla--A Constitutional Challenge for Us All," by Brigid O'Neil, Dec. 19, 2003 by CommonDreams.org

"Rights, Liberties Groups Hail Court Defeats For Bush Anti-Terror Efforts," OneWorld.net, Dec. 19, 2003

"Setback For Ashcroft's Radical Agenda," WorkingForChange.com, Dec. 19, 2003

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"Between The Lines" is a half-hour syndicated radio news magazine that each week features a summary of under-reported news stories and interviews with activists and journalists who offer progressive perspectives on international, national and regional political, economic and social issues. Because "Between The Lines" is independent of all publications, media networks or political parties, we are able to bring a diversity of voices to the airwaves generally ignored or marginalized by the major media. For more information on this week's topics and to check out our text archive listing topics and guests presented in previous programs visit: www.btlonline.org
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