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Guantanamo Bay inmates able to challenge dete -

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Guantanamo Bay inmates able to challenge detention in US courts

Broadcast: 13/06/2008

Reporter: Tom Iggulden

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that inmates held by the American military in Guantanamo
Bay can challenge the legality of their detention in American courts.


VIRGINIA TRIOLI: The Bush administration's six year effort to keep 270 international terrorist
suspects beyond the reach of the American justice system has now been dealt a huge blow.

The US Supreme Court decision means inmates held by the American military in Guantanamo Bay can
challenge the legality of their detention in American courts.

Lawyers for former inmate David Hicks are now studying the decision to see whether he can apply to
have his detention ruled illegal.

Tom Iggulden reports.

TOM IGGULDEN, REPORTER: The Supreme Court decision strikes directly at the heart of the legality of
holding Guantanamo Bay's prisoners. For the first time, detainees will be able to ask a Federal
Court to compel the US military to reveal the evidence that justifies their incarceration,
including classified evidence. The Federal Court will also have the power to free detainees if it's
convinced, based on that evidence, that their detention is illegal.

ANTHONY KENNEDY, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE (voiceover): "The laws and Constitution are designed to
survive ... and remain in force in extraordinary times", the decision says.

VINCENT WARREN, CENTRE FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: What this decision means is that it's not a get
out of jail free card, but it's simply an opportunity for these men to go before courts and judges
to determine whether they are being held illegally or not.

TOM IGGULDEN: Guantanamo Bay holds several of the suspected plotters of the September 11 attacks,
including the alleged mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Other than that, the US military's
ensured little's known about the 270 inmates there. Now, more information about them could be made

MARTHA RADDATZ, WHITE HOUSE: It really removes the veil of secrecy and it could be very
embarrassing for the administration. We don't know what these people. We don't know what they're
charged with. We don't know how serious the charges are.

TOM IGGULDEN: The lawyer for former Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks expects today's
decision will lead to several appeals against the legality of the Military Commission that
convicted his client, potentially resulting in that conviction being overturned.

DAVID MCLEOD, LAWYER FOR DAVID HICKS: David's conviction will fall away. Any suggestion of
confiscation of profits of crime legislation being applicable to him will fall away. The fact of
his incarceration in Australia will come under question.

TOM IGGULDEN: The Government says the Supreme Court decision is an American matter, but the
Opposition, which supported Mr Hicks' detention in Guantanamo Bay, says the decision didn't rule on
the Military Commission which tried him.

GEORGE BRANDIS, SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Nor did it strike down the offences with which he was
charged and to which he chose to plead guilty. So, I very much doubt that the decision of the court
has any bearing on Mr Hicks' position at all.

TOM IGGULDEN: The decision was close - five to four. The Bush administration says it will abide by

GEORGE W BUSH, US PRESIDENT: That doesn't mean I have to agree with it. It was a deeply divided
court. And I strongly agree with those who dissented. And their dissent was based upon their
serious concerns about US national security.

TOM IGGULDEN: The chief justice of the Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia, was the lead dissenter,
writing that America would regret the decision.

ANTONIN SCALIA, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE (voiceover translation): "America is at war with radical
Islamists ...", he wrote. "Today's opinion ... will almost certainly cause more Americans to be

TOM IGGULDEN: The potential next Republican president was also unhappy with the decision.

JOHN MCCAIN, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE: It obviously concerns me. These are unlawful combatants. They
are not American citizens.

TOM IGGULDEN: Barack Obama issued a statement saying the decision helped restore the credibility of
the American legal system.

Tom Iggulden, Lateline.