The three rejected appeals – Al-Bihani v. Obama (10-7814), Al Odah v. US (10-439), and Awad v. Obama (10-736) – are among the first cases to emerge from the federal appeals court. They offered the Supreme Court justices an opportunity to assess whether the lower courts have struck the proper balance.
Fifty-nine decisions have been issued by federal judges in habeas corpus cases filed by Guantánamo detainees. The judges ordered 38 detainees released and denied release for 21.
The Washington appeals court has issued decisions in 10 of those cases. In four decisions, the appeals court reversed orders that the detainee be set free. In four others, it upheld rulings that the prisoner continue to be detained. In two, the court sent the case back to the federal judge for reconsideration of an issue.
Overall, the appeals court has yet to issue a ruling upholding the release of a Guantánamo detainee.
In the process, the appeals court has issued a series of binding, precedent-setting decisions that lawyers for the detainees say stack the deck against Guantánamo prisoners – many of whom could spend the rest of their lives at the terror prison camp without being charged with a crime or afforded a chance to defend themselves in a trial.
In a string of decisions, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has:
• Established that the president has broad authority to detain terror suspects at Guantánamo – authority that is not limited by international law of war principles, including the Geneva Conventions.