A group of retired federal judges, former U.S. diplomats, ex-military officials and international law experts are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review the indefinite detention of prisoners held by the United States at Guantánamo Bay.

In a series of friend-of-the-court briefs, a lineup that includes a former assistant secretary of state and two retired judges advocate general of the Navy is asking the high court to hear the appeals of 16 terror suspects held at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba.

“Even in times of emergency, it’s the duty of the courts and lawyers to preserve the rule of law,” John J. Gibbons, a former chief judge of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said Tuesday.

The United States is holding about 660 men without prisoner-of-war status, criminal charge or access to the courts at Camp Delta, the super-maximum-security prison built last year at Guantánamo Bay…

Attorneys for 16 of the men — 12 Kuwaitis, two Britons and two Australians — have sought hearings on their detentions. In March, the U.S. Circuit Court of appeals for the District of Columbia denied their request, saying
Guantánamo Bay lies beyond the reach of the federal courts.

Gibbons called the assertion “ludicrous.”

“We occupy that Navy base under a perpetual lease,” he said. “I served there for a year as a Navy officer. I know who’s sovereign there.”

The detentions already had drawn criticism from the International Committee of the Red Cross, Amnesty International and others. A panel of senior judges in Britain, the administration’s staunchest ally in Afghanistan and Iraq, has called Guantánamo Bay a “legal black hole”¦”


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