REUTERS - The U.S. Supreme Court said on Friday
that it would decide whether President George W. Bush
can order the indefinite imprisonment in the United States of
an al Qaeda suspect without charging him.
In the latest test of Bush's war-on-terrorism policies, the
nation's highest court agreed to hear an appeal by a Qatari
national, Ali al-Marri, the only foreign national currently
being held in the United States as an "enemy combatant."
While President-elect Barack Obama has strongly opposed
Bush's policies and has vowed to close the U.S. military prison
at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, he and his aides have not said what
position his administration will take in Marri's case.
After Bush designated Marri an "enemy combatant" in June of
2003, he has been held in solitary confinement in a U.S. Navy
brig in Charleston, South Carolina without being charged.
Marri's attorneys appealed a U.S. appeals court's ruling in
July that the U.S. Congress gave Bush the power to detain Marri
as part of its authorization for use of military force after
the Sept. 11 attacks by al Qaeda in 2001.
They said the law authorizing military force and the U.S.
Constitution do not allow for the indefinite military detention
of a person lawfully residing in the United States, without
criminal charges or a trial.
"Under the Constitution, people cannot be locked up
indefinitely just because the president says so," said Jonathan
Hafetz, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who
The Supreme Court in June rebuked Bush in a landmark ruling
that prisoners held at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo can
go before federal judges in Washington to seek their release.
There are now about 250 prisoners at Guantanamo.
It also ruled against the Bush administration in three
other war-on-terrorism cases in 2006 and 2004.
The Supreme Court most likely will hear arguments in
Marri's case in March, with a decision expected by the end of