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Letter to Congress from Retired Judges – Sept. 2006

Ten retired federal judges write to Congress to relate their concern about the lawfulness of Section 6 of the proposed Military Commissions Act of 2006.

Published: September 14, 2006
The Military Commissions Act of 2006 proposes the exclusion of federal courts from reviewing executive detentions at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Station and other detainment sites outside the United States.  Section 6 includes “all cases, without exception…which relate to any aspect of the detention, treatment, or trial of an alien detained outside of the United States…since September 11, 2001.”  The federal judges argue that such an infringement of habeas corpus would allow for the indefinite holding of individuals, and would be a violation of the federal courts’ historic responsibility to test prisoner confinement cases.

The retired federal judges writing this letter challenge claims that their involvement in detainment review will impede the fight against terrorism.  They defend their traditional role in managing civil and criminal cases, asserting that cases in past times of conflict were “resolved fairly and expeditiously, without compromising the interests of this country.”  The letter ultimately demands that there is not a well-founded reason for procedure at Guantánamo Bay to function differently from the historical precedent.