- The Washington Times - Monday, June 10, 2019

Justice Stephen G. Breyer said Monday it’s time the Supreme Court revisits the situation of indefinite detention and terrorism suspects caught on the battlefield in Afghanistan, saying that after 18 years it’s beginning to look like some of those captured may spend their life as prisoners of war.

He delivered his plea in a statement accompanying the court’s refusal to hear an appeal by Moath Hamza Ahmed al-Alwi, who was caught 17 years ago and has, since then, been kept at Guantanamo Bay.

The Supreme Court ruled more than a decade ago that persons caught as part of the war against al Qaeda and the Taliban, authorized under a 2001 use of military force resolution approved by Congress, could be held as enemy combatants.

But Justice Breyer said the conflict today bears little resemblance to the war that was authorized in 2001, and he said it’s stretching matters to say al-Alwi is still being held as an enemy combatant in the same war that was being fought at the time he was captured.

“As a consequence, al-Alwi faces the real prospect that he will spend the rest of his life in detention based on his status as an enemy combatant a generation ago, even though today’s conflict may differ substantially from the one Congress anticipated,” Justice Breyer wrote.

Detainees have been kept at the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since the start of operations. Keeping them there was supposed to prevent them from gaining full rights as persons on U.S. soil, and to protect Americans in case the facility became a terrorist target itself.

Human rights activists say 780 people have been detained at some point, and 40 still remain.

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