In an important vote, the Supreme Court has granted review in al-Marri v. Pucciarelli, 08-368. The case will return the issue of enemy combatants back before the Court with a new twist. The case would have to be argued by the Obama Administration, which will be given a clear opportunity to show whether all of the talk about change and civil liberties was just a pitch or true principle.
I will be discussing this case tonight on Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.
The case raises one of the greatest abuses of the Bush Administration: the claim of the President’s near absolute authority to take a person within the United States and strip him of his rights to counsel, courts, and habeas corpus. Ali al-Marri is the only remaining enemy combatant held on U.S. soil.
al-Marri is a Qatar native who was seized in the United States and accused of being an Al Qaeda sleeper agent. He has been held in a Navy brig near Charleston, S.C., for nearly 5 1/2 years. Even the ultra-conservative 4th Circuit split on the issue: recognizing the president’s power but ruling that al-Marri had some procedural rights.
The Bush Administration may not want to risk a “faint praise” argument from the Obama Administration and drop the enemy combatant status for al-Marri — sending him to trial as it did Jose Padilla to avoid a ruling on the merits.
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