Indefinite Detentions: Suspected Terrorists could Question Periodically

Prisoners at Guantánamo

Washington: The issue of detaining suspected terrorists is a dicey issue and the Obama administration plans to deal with it in a way that would allow suspected terrorists held indefinitely to challenge their imprisonment periodically.

A White House official spoke on conditions of anonymity that the executive order, which has not been presented to the President yet, covers prisoners who can’t be tried in civilian courts and prisoners who cannot be tried in military commissions such as the one set up in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The President had mooted about and had pledged in 2009 to give suspected terrorists legal access and a fair chance of proving their innocence. This intention is a fall out of the Supreme Court’s decision in 2008, which stated that prisoners held in camps such as the Guantánamo Bay could challenge their detention. But the decision did not specify how often detainees could challenge in a court of law.

The Obama administration attempts to fill the lacuna. Obama had said in a 2009 speech at the National Archives, “We must have clear, defensible and lawful standards for those who fall in this category. We must have fair procedures so that we don’t make mistakes. We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified.”

The latest proposal could bring top Al Qaeda figures such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in to the ambit of a civilian court trial within the USA for his alleged involvement in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. This could secure political support for the Obama administration.