After the first hearing on the government’s evidence for holding detainees at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, a federal judge ruled on Thursday that five of the prisoners are not being lawfully held and ordered their release.
The case, involving six Algerians detained in Bosnia in 2001, was an important test of the Bush administration’s detention policies, which critics have long argued swept up innocent men and low-level foot soldiers along with high-level and hardened terrorists.
The hearings for the Algerian men, in which all evidence was heard in proceedings closed to the public, were the first in which the Department of Justice presented its full justification for holding specific detainees since the Supreme Court ruled in June that Guantánamo detainees have a constitutional right to contest their imprisonment in habeas corpus suits.
Ruling from the bench, Judge Richard J. Leon of Federal District Court in Washington said that the information gathered on the men had been sufficient to hold them for intelligence purposes, but was not strong enough in court.
Glenn Greenwald on the horrendous treatment the men received:
One of the detainees ordered released today had a wife who was pregnant at the time he was shipped to Guantanamo, who then gave birth to a daughter, now 6, whom he has never met. Another of the Bosnian-Algerians had an infant daughter at the time he was put in Guantanamo who died last year of congenital heart disease at the age of 6. Another of them "suffered months of facial paralysis from a brutal beating inflicted by Guantanamo camp soldiers."
Why were these men detained? To make a statement about executive power. If there were any justice in the world the men responsible for this would now spend seven equivalent years at Gitmo (and in my humble opinion, the lawyers at justice who defended these policies would spend the next seven years as public defenders, defending rapists and murderers.) Instead we are permitted only to say goodbye, and good riddance.