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Senate committee supports restoring habeas rights to Guantanamo detainees

[JURIST] The US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] Thursday voted 11-8 in support of a measure that would return habeas corpus rights to terror suspects imprisoned at the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] military prison. The Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007 [S 185 text, PDF], sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), would allow Guantanamo detainees to challenge their detention in US federal courts for the first time since the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [PDF text] revoked that right. The bill, passed in committee without debate, was unanimously supported by Committee Democrats; Specter was its only Republican supporter. It is expected to be attached next month as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2008 [HR 1585 materials]. AP has more.

Also Thursday, a legal advisor to the US Department of State [official website] said that the Bush administration is considering appealing this week's decision to dismiss charges against Guantanamo detainees Omar Khadr and Salim Ahmed Hamdan [JURIST reports]. Both cases were dismissed by a military judge for lack of jurisdiction due to the detainees' classification as "enemy combatants" and not "unlawful enemy combatants," as required under the Military Commissions Act. Given 72 hours to enter an appeal, John Bellinger [official profile] said government lawyers may seek to have the prisoners reclassified as unlawful enemy combatants by Combatant Status Review Tribunals [DOD materials], an unprecedented move. Last week Bellinger said that the United States might not release Khadr [CP report] even if he were acquitted, asserting that the the US would still have the right to detain him as an enemy combatant in the war on terror. Reuters has more.

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