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Obama signals major shift in US anti-terror policy

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At one point, he complained to his lawyer that his harsh treatment and conditions of confinement were driving him out of his mind. According to legal documents, he protested by smearing the inside of his cell with his own feces.

His case sparked a contentious debate over whether an American president has the power to order a legal US resident like Al-Marri – or even a US citizen – into indefinite, incommunicado detention by the military simply by designating that person an enemy combatant.

After years of litigation that issue is currently before the US Supreme Court, which is poised to hear Al-Marri’s case in April. A decision would be expected by late June. But now, given Al-Marri’s possible transfer to the criminal justice system, the Obama administration is expected to ask the high court to dismiss the case.

If granted, the action would leave undisturbed existing legal precedents in the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond upholding open-ended detentions of enemy combatants within US borders.

Al-Marri’s lawyer, Jonathan Hafetz of the American Civil Liberties Union, says he will oppose any government motion to dismiss the case.

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