Ex-generals: Review Bush's detention authority
They urge Supreme Court to review case of suspected enemy combatant
COLUMBIA, South Carolina - Former generals and U.S. Justice Department officials filed briefs Thursday urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Bush administration's authority to indefinitely detain the only suspected enemy combatant held on U.S. soil.
"This unprecedented expansion of executive authority within the borders of the United States is not only at odds with more than 200 years of history, but it is wholly unnecessary," argued former judges and officials, including former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and former FBI Director William Sessions. "The federal government is eminently capable of both protecting our nation's security and safeguarding our proud tradition of civil liberties."
That brief and others from retired military officers, professors and nonprofit organizations were filed in support of a request by Ali al-Marri, a native of Qatar held in solitary confinement at a U.S. Navy prison near Charleston since 2003. He has not been charged.
The legal U.S. resident was living in Illinois when he was arrested in December 2001 as a material witness to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Moved suspect to military prison
The government has said federal agents found evidence that al-Marri, who was charged with credit card fraud in 2002, had links to al-Qaida terrorists and was a national security threat. Authorities shifted his case from the criminal system and moved him to the military prison indefinitely after he was declared an enemy combatant.
The American Civil Liberties Union asked the high court last month to review a July decision in which the closely divided 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that the administration of President George W. Bush has the authority to detain anyone suspected of being an al-Qaida member.
But the court also ruled that suspects must be able to challenge their military detention. The Supreme Court has not yet said whether it will take the case.