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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

WaPo: Justice Department's Brief On Detention Policy Draws Ire

Critics of U.S. detention policies warned yesterday that a brief legal document filed by the Justice Department this week raises the possibility that any of the millions of immigrants living in the United States could be subject to indefinite detention if they are accused of ties to terrorist groups.

In a six-page motion filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond, Justice Department lawyers argue that an anti-terrorism law approved by Congress last month allows the government to detain any foreign national declared to be an enemy combatant, even if he is arrested and imprisoned inside the United States....

In the past, foreign nationals arrested in the United States have generally had the right to challenge their imprisonment for immigration violations or other alleged crimes in U.S. civilian courts. In the Marri case, the Justice Department essentially argues for an exception for those arrested as enemy combatants, legal experts said.

"It's been the case since the nation's founding that immigrants have a constitutional right to test their detention in a court," said one of Marri's attorneys, Jonathan Hafetz, of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. "What it means is that any of the millions of immigrants in the United States could be arrested, taken from their homes and thrown in a military jail and denied their right to go to court."[Link]

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