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Week of 6.30.06

Guantanamo Detainees Update

John D. Hutson
Video icon Video: Interview: John D. Hutson (begins at 18:32)

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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Thursday (June 29) that the Bush Administration does not have the authority to try terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba by military tribunal.

Following the decision, David Brancaccio spoke with John D. Hutson, a former senior lawyer for the Navy, who said the decision has broader implications.

"This decision pulls a couple of rugs out from the Administration's prosecution of the war," Hutson tells David Brancaccio. "Basically, the court's saying, 'You've got to play by the rules.'"

The court's ruling came in response to a case brought by Osama Bin Laden's former driver, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, one of 10 Guantanamo detainees facing a military tribunal. Lawyers for the inmates have pushed to have their clients tried by a civilian tribunal or court martial, wherein proceedings would be more open.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court said military tribunals contravened U.S. and international standards on prisoner rights. Hutson told NOW that he welcomed the court's decision, saying the move was favorable for human rights.

"It was not good for the Bush Administration right now, unless they learn from it. And if they learn from it and using the wisdom that the Supreme Court of the United States tried to give them, we'll all be better off for it," Hutson said. The facility at Guantanamo currently holds about 480 inmates.

How are Detainees Treated?

See NOW's report: Lockdown: Detainees in the "War on Terror"

Read the Supreme Court's June 29, 2006 decision: U.S. Supreme Court ruling On Guantanamo Detainees [pdf]