The suit filed by 17 Guantanamo Bay detainees seeking release into the United States finally came to an end today, and the result was a decisive victory for the federal government and our national security. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissed the claims of the detainees, who are ethnic Uighurs, a Turkic Muslim minority in far-west China. Although military officials determined in 2008 that the Uighurs should no longer be deemed “enemy combatants,” five of them remain in detention at Guantanamo.
The Supreme Court last year agreed to hear the case, Kiyemba v. Obama, and at one point appeared poised to endorse the district court’s determination that the Uighurs were entitled to be released into the United States. But perhaps because Congress overwhelmingly opposed allowing any Guantanamo detainees to come to the U.S., the Supreme Court in March decided to take a pass. Instead of ruling on the merits, it vacated the decision of the D.C. Circuit (which had sided with the U.S. government and held that the courts lacked authority to order the Executive Branch to admit aliens into the country) and directed the appeals court to take a fresh look at the case in light of “new developments.” What had come to light was that five remaining detainees had rejected offers of resettlement in the island nation of Palau and in at least one other nation. Continue reading