Saturday, May 30, 2009

You Don't Have to Go Home, But You Can't Come Here

SCOTUSBLOG was not asleep at the switch last night - unlike most of the news media - and caught this late Friday night filing by the U.S. Solicitor General that opposes a petition to release into the United States the Uighur detainees now held at Gitmo.

The Obama Administration urged the Supreme Court on Friday to turn away the plea by 17 Chinese Muslim Uighurs for release from Guantanamo Bay for settling temporarily inside the U.S. The U.S. Solicitor General’s brief in opposition in Kiyemba, et al., v. Obama, et al. (08-1234) can be downloaded here. Although no longer considered enemies, their continued confinement at Guantanamo is constitutionally valid, the brief asserted.

The Uighurs, Solicitor General Elena Kagan wrote, “have already obtained relief. They are no longer detained as enemy combatants, they are free to leave Guantanamo Bay to any country that is willing to accept them, and in the meantime, they are housed in facilities separate from those for enemy combatants under the least restrictive conditions practicable.”

The Obama administration is now 100% in agreement with the previous Bush administration position on this matter, holding that the Uighur have no legal right to be released into the United States. The political irony of the situation is examined here.

If none of the detainees are admitted into the U.S., the chances are that no European country - like German, which apparently is now home to the largest Uighur community outside Asia - will accept them either. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has been trying to shop the Uighur detainees to Germany for some time now, but hasn't been able to close the deal. After Friday's filing, he ought to finally give up.

Incidentally, I can't help but notice that the Secretary of State is nowhere to be seen on this issue (although evidently the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs is engaged on it). I can just imagine the scene at the cabinet meeting when action was assigned on the matter of persuading foreign governments to accept the Gitmo Gang.

POTUS: Ah, Hillary, what do you think about approaching our allies on accepting detainees that we can't admit to the United States?

SECSTATE: [long uncomfortable silence]

POTUS: Ah, do you think any of them will help us out on this?

SECSTATE: [sound of crickets chirping]

POTUS: I mean, if you, um, make a personal appeal .....

SECSTATE: [somewhere in the distance, a small dog whimpers]

POTUS: Ah ... Eric! This is really a law enforcement matter, I suppose. How about you handling the foreign angle on this one?

AG Holder: OK, yeah, sure. You da man.

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