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Washington - A federal appeals court refused Friday to reconsider a ruling broadening its own authority to scrutinize evidence against detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
The decision is a setback for the Bush administration, which was displeased by the court's three-judge ruling in July and had urged all 10 judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review it. The administration said the decision jeopardized national security.
The ruling held that, when Guantanamo Bay detainees bring a court challenge to their status as "enemy combatants," judges must review all the evidence, not just the evidence the military chooses.
After criminal trials, appeals courts are limited in what evidence they can review. But hearings at Guantanamo Bay are not trials. Detainees are not allowed to have attorneys, and the Pentagon decides what evidence to present. And unlike in criminal trials, the government is not obligated to turn over evidence that the defendant might be innocent.
"For this court to ignore that reality would be to proceed as though the Congress envisioned judicial review as a mere charade," Chief Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg wrote Friday.