One year ago, the Supreme Court told the Bush administration that in America, even detainees swept up in the war on terror and held at the military’s Guantanamo Bay prison camp were entitled to a day in court to contest their imprisonment. Faruq Ali Ahmed is still waiting. A young Yemeni picked up in Pakistan in 2001, he has been held since then despite his insistence that he was doing nothing but teaching the Quran to children when war broke out. He is detained in part on the basis of accusations from a camp snitch who a military officer has denounced as a liar. Like scores of other prisoners confined at the Caribbean outpost, Ahmed has a lawyer and has filed a court challenge to his detention. But a year later, the hopes raised by the Supreme Court’s precedent-setting decision in Rasul v. Bush last June 28 have yet to be fulfilled.
No prisoners have yet had court hearings on whether they should be confined. Instead, they have faced a labyrinth of legal delays and a pattern of government resistance, serving as pawns in a remarkable legal drama that their lawyers say has stopped just short of obstruction of a mandate from the nation’s highest court. “I think it’s pretty clear what the spirit of the Supreme Court ruling was,” says Mark Falkoff, a New York lawyer who represents Ahmed and other Yemenis. “But the government position is still that Guantanamo is a legal black hole and the courts should butt out, and the military has fought every step of the way to vindicate that idea.” (MORE)