It's not just Khadr

A judge's ruling in the trial of one suspected terrorist detained at Guant

By Alex Koppelman

Published June 4, 2007 6:41PM (EDT)

More details are out about the surprise ruling in the case of Omar Khadr discussed earlier here; Reuters is reporting that the ruling by Army Col. Peter Brownback, the judge in the Khadr case, may extend to all of the almost 400 detainees currently held at Guantánamo.

Charges have been brought against only three of the Guantánamo detainees thus far, but all 380 people held there share one thing in common: They have not been designated as "unlawful enemy combatants."

That was the sticking point for Brownback earlier today; he dismissed the charges against Khadr because the 2006 Military Commissions Act, which laid out the procedures for these military tribunals, said only "unlawful enemy combatants" could be tried in such a forum, and Khadr, like the rest of the detainees, had never been officially designated as an unlawful combatant.

Attorneys for the other detainees will be sure to use the Khadr ruling -- which prosecutors have 72 hours to appeal, even though the court that is supposed to handle such appeals has not yet been set up -- as precedent in their clients' cases. The lead defense attorney for all of them, Marine Col. Dwight Sullivan, used the hearing to call for an end to the tribunals, saying once again that all those held at Guantánamo should be tried in regular U.S. courts.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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