Guantanamo detainees cannot appeal detention in US, court rules

Published: Tuesday February 20, 2007

WASHINGTON - Foreign nationals held at the US-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba are barred from using the US court system to challenge their detentions, a federal appeals court ruled.

The DC Circuit Court in a two-to-one opinion rejected the detainees' argument that their cases were not covered by the Military Commissions Act of 2006, enacted by Congress last October after the Supreme Court challenged the legality of the panels initially set up by President George W. Bush.

"The arguments are creative, but not cogent. To accept them would be to defy the will of Congress," the ruling said.

The appeals court also rejected the contention that the Military Commission Act deprived the detainees of the right to file "habeas corpus" petitions challenging their detention without charge or proof.

"Precedent in this court and the Supreme Court holds that the Constitution does not confer rights on aliens without property or presence within the United States," the majority ruled.

"Our only recourse is to vacate" the decision, the court wrote, citing "lack of jurisdiction."

The case is now expected to go to the US Supreme Court.