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Supreme Court considers whether to take up anti-terrorism laws


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court, after a four-year break from terrorism issues, is set to decide as soon as Monday whether to again take up constitutional challenges toGeorge W. Bush-era anti-terrorism laws involving wiretapping and the Guantanamo prisoners.

In one case, the Obama administration is asking the court to block a suit against the government's monitoring of international phone calls and emails. And in the other set of appeals, lawyers for six detainees at the U.S. naval base atGuantanamo Bay, Cuba, are asking the justices to make good on their promise of four years ago and give the inmates a "meaningful opportunity" to be released.

If not, the right to appeal given to the detainees in 2008 "will be a virtual dead letter," said Jonathan Hafetz, a law professor at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

President Bush had maintained that the detainees were military prisoners who had no rights under American civilian law. In what was seen as a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court disagreed and held that the Constitution's right to habeas corpus extended to the hundreds of Guantanamo prisoners. They have a right to a "meaningful review" of their cases by a federal judge, said Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Since then, no detainee has gone free based just on a court order. The Obama administration has agreed to send home dozens of detainees who were seen as no longer a danger. But whenever the administration has opposed a detainee's claim, it has won in the conservative-leaning U.S. court of appeals in Washington. more at source

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