Taking the enemy to court


Issue: "Year in Review 2004," Jan. 1, 2005

The Supreme Court in June dealt a blow to President Bush's war on terror, ruling that nearly 600 "enemy combatants" held for years at a naval base in Cuba should have the right to challenge their detentions in U.S. federal courts. Facing a slew of lawsuits, the Pentagon raced to set up military tribunals that would bolster the government's case against the prisoners, most of whom were rounded up during raids in Afghanistan.

In September, military judges ordered the release of one detainee, saying a "fresh" look at the evidence showed the man had no links to al-Qaeda. But the tribunals strengthened the cases against more than 300 other prisoners, and the Pentagon planned to complete another 200 reviews by year-end. Human-rights advocates argued that the prisoners were denied access to lawyers and evidence-abuses they said they hoped to correct in federal lawsuits expected to go to court next year.

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