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DOJ seeks modification of Guantanamo appeals rules

[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] on Tuesday filed a government motion [text, PDF] asking a federal judge to review the procedure for handling appeals by detainees being held at the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. The DOJ claims that the current rules, as established by US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] Chief Judge Thomas Hogan [official profile] in a November 6 order [order, PDF], are "ambiguous in certain important respects and that it would, if excessively construed, create obligations that realistically cannot be met in the limited two-week time frame." According to the rules, the DOJ is required to file briefs justifying detention "within 14 days of the date of th[e] Order in cases in which the petitioner already filed a traverse," which account for the overwhelming majority of the some 200 men who have filed appeals contained in 113 separate cases. The government expressed further concern over the disclosure of confidential information, which would "unnecessarily burden government agencies charged with prosecuting the present war and would risk serious damage to national security." In support of its position, the Justice Department filed four additional documents: a set of proposed orders [text, PDF], a series of sworn statements [text, PDF] by US intelligence officials on the risks to national security, a sworn statement [text, PDF] on national security risks by FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, and secret statements from intelligence and military officials not disclosed to the public. AFP has more.

Hogan responded [order, RTF] to the government’s motion on Thursday by ordering the lawyers for the Guantanamo detainees to file responses to the Justice Department’s motion no later than Wednesday, November 26, 2008. The order followed a decision earlier that day by Judge Richard Leon [official profile] of the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] to release five Algerian detainees [JURIST report] now held at Guantanamo.

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