Uighur Detainees May Be Released Inside U.S.

Via George Stephanopoulos on today's LA Times article reporting up to seven of the Uighur detainees at Guantanamo may be released into the U.S.

Hill sources tell me that Congressional leaders were told today that Guantanamo detainees from China - the Uighurs - are likely to soon be released into the United States, most likely to the Virginia suburbs. These notifications follow this front page story today in the Los Angeles Times.

Stephanopoulos quotes Penatagon sources as saying it's not a done deal, just a "toe in the water." Our prior coverage of the Uighurs is assembled here.

As for the remaining detainees, a jail in Montana is considering making an offer to house them. The effort has received approval from the City Council.

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    A Dred Scott for the 21st Century (none / 0) (#1)
    by scribe on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 04:07:43 PM EST
    In Rasul v. Myers, decided today (opinion), the DC Circuit sank to a low we haven't seen since Chief Justice Taney in Dred Scott v. Sandford.

    The DC Circuit decided that former captives at Guantanamo could not sue under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act because ...

    they are not "persons".

    That's right.  They are not "persons", and therefore not entitled to sue.

    Granted, and to be a lot fairer than any Republican ever would be in any argument, the distinction was that they were not "persons covered by the act", a distinction similar to the whole "how far does the right of habeas run" chicanery Bushco put us through with the first iteration of Rasul, and then Hamdan and so on.  But the effect is the same.  Here's what the Court said - it only takes two paragraphs:

    This leaves the RFRA claim in Count 7. Our vacated opinion held as a matter of statutory interpretation that plaintiffs were not protected "person[s]" within the meaning of RFRA, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb-1(a). Boumediene could not possibly have altered - retroactively - the meaning of RFRA. We will summarize our analysis in Rasul I.

    In enacting RFRA, Congress intended to incorporate the standard governing free exercise claims that prevailed before the Supreme Court's 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990). See City of Boerne v.  Flores, 521 U.S. 507, 515 (1997). The aim was to restore what, in Congress's view, is the free exercise right the Constitution guaranteed -- in both substance and scope. We therefore held that the term "person" as used in RFRA should be read consistently with similar language in  Constitutional provisions, as interpreted by the Supreme Court at the time Congress enacted RFRA. Rasul I, 512 F.3d at 670-72. Congress legislated against the background of precedent establishing that nonresident aliens were not among  the "person[s]" protected by the Fifth Amendment, Eisentrager, 339 U.S. at 783, and were not among "the people" protected by the Fourth Amendment, Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. at 269. See also Cuban Am. Bar Ass'n v. Christopher, 43 F.3d 1412, 1428 (11th Cir. 1995) (Cuban and Haitian refugees at Guantanamo Bay lack First Amendment rights). Reading RFRA in line with these precedents, we held that plaintiffs are not protected "person[s]" under this statute. Rasul I, 512 F.3d at 672. We reinstate that judgment today.

    Congratulations, Mr. Obama.  Your Justice Department has managed to make a whole class of people into ... not persons.

    A hundred fifty years ago, they would have said the same thing about you.

    The Virginia suburbs (none / 0) (#2)
    by Dadler on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 04:08:04 PM EST
    Great for families!  Easy CIA access!

    There's a community of Uighur immigrants (none / 0) (#3)
    by scribe on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 04:10:47 PM EST
    in the DC burbs - previously the Uighurs' attorneys presented the habeas judge with a detailed plan for having this community sponsor and care for the captives and ensure their compliance with law, etc.  That's why suburban Va.

    Hence the great for families (none / 0) (#4)
    by Dadler on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 04:19:24 PM EST
    Too clever for my own good.  Or not clever enough.  I'd read that somewhere recently, but I just think CIA the instant anyone says suburban Virginia.  

    Oh no! (none / 0) (#5)
    by Steve M on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 04:35:58 PM EST
    The worst of the worst.  I sure hope they don't come kill me in my bed.  Everyone knows that anyone who was housed at Guantanamo has to be Very Scary People.

    You're worried about the (none / 0) (#6)
    by scribe on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 04:44:34 PM EST
    former guards and interrogator-torturers, who returned to their civilian employments as cops and prison guards, right?

    Awesome... (none / 0) (#7)
    by mike in dc on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 10:00:25 PM EST
    ...the firm I work for has been working on behalf of the Uighurs for years now.  This is a real breakthrough, IF it happens.