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DOJ to appeal ruling on Gitmo military commissions

[JURIST] The US Justice Department has responded to yesterday's district court ruling that the Guantanamo military commission proceedings are unlawful (reported here on JURIST's Paper Chase) by saying it will seek an emergency stay of the ruling and will immediately appeal. US District Judge James Robertson ruled Monday that the military commission proceedings against Salim Ahmed Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's bodyguard, are unlawful because a competent tribunal has not determined whether Hamdan is a prisoner of war. Judge Robertson also ruled that Hamdan was due the full protections of a prisoner of war under the Third Geneva Convention until that time, and that the rules for his trial by commission - in particular with regard to review and to the accused right to be privy to evidence against him - were not in keeping with those for a court-martial due a POW. Read Judge Robertson's opinion [PDF]. A DOJ spokesman said:

We believe the President properly determined that the Geneva Conventions have no legal applicability to members or affiliates of al Qaeda, a terrorist organization that is not a state and has not signed the Geneva Conventions. We also believe that the President's power to convene military commissions to prosecute crimes against the laws of war is inherent in his authority as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, and has been memorialized by Congress in statutes governing the military.

By conferring protected legal status under the Geneva Conventions on members of al Qaeda, the Judge has put terrorism on the same legal footing as legitimate methods of waging war. The Constitution entrusts to the President the responsibility to safeguard the nation's security. The Department of Justice will continue to defend the President's ability and authority under the Constitution to fulfill that duty.
Read the full DOJ statement. Tuesday's Washington Post has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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