White House claims top court ruling could lead to 'dangerous detainees' released in US

[JURIST] White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said [press briefing transcript] Thursday that the administration is still working to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center [JURIST news archive], but suggested that a recent US Supreme Court decision could lead to the release of "dangerous detainees" into the US. The Court ruled [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] in Boumediene v. Bush last month that "enemy combatants" have the right to challenge their detention by filing habeas corpus petitions in federal court [JURIST report]. Perino said that if a detainee successfully challenged their detention and couldn't be repatriated to their home country, they could either be immediately released into the US or held for no longer than six months under current immigration laws. She said the administration was still deciding how to close the base and comply with the decision:

...The Department of Defense has been working for years to try to get many of these enemy combatants repatriated, and in fact we've gotten hundreds repatriated back to their country where they would be held securely. But some detainees have been released, and some have returned to the battlefield, and some have even become suicide bombers. And we have to be really careful about what we're going to do with these detainees...

But there is considered judgment from many federal government lawyers, all the way up to the Attorney General of the United States, that it is a very real possibility that a dangerous detainee could be released into the United States as a result of this Supreme Court decision...

I'm sure that none of us want Khalid Sheikh Mohammed walking around our neighborhoods. And there might be some lawyers that you can find that would say that's a stretch, but what I would submit to you is that they don't know either, and that the Attorney General of the United States, who has been intimately involved in trying these types of cases, and in fact oversaw the first World Trade Center bombing case, he's very concerned about the situation. And so you can bet that he is at the table as well, trying to figure this out so we make sure that we don't endanger any citizen of the United States.
Perino and other administration officials have said that one solution would be new legislation preventing the release of detainees while deportation hearings are held. AP has more. The Los Angeles Times has additional coverage.


 

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