Civil Liberties

Supreme Court Vacates Decision Upholding Indefinite Detention

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Today the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to dismiss the case in which Ali al-Marri, an alleged Al Qaeda "sleeper agent," challenged his military detention. The Court agreed with the Obama administration that the case is moot now that Al-Marri, who was held in a U.S. Navy brig in Charleston, South Carolina, for more than six years, has been indicted in federal court and is about to be transferred back to civilian custody. At the same time, the Court vacated a decision in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit upheld the president's authority to indefinitely detain legal residents arrested in the United States as "enemy combatants" based on suspected ties to terrorism. The upshot is that if President Obama plans to use indefinite military detention for terrorism suspects, as his attorney general has suggested he does, the issue will be fought all over again in the federal courts.