NEW YORK - January 26 - Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law yesterday filed a “friend of the court” brief arguing that the Detainee Treatment Act does not cut off meaningful access to the courts for detainees at Guantánamo Bay. The Center filed the brief on behalf of leading British and American scholars in the ongoing challenges to the detentions at Guantánamo in the federal U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. The brief urges the Court to preserve the writ of habeas corpus, which has historically been the most important safeguard against unlawful executive imprisonment. It argues that the Detainee Treatment Act, passed last month, does not eliminate the remedy of habeas corpus in pending cases. And it contends that the core protections that make the habeas corpus the “Great Writ of Liberty” must be preserved.
This particular appeal concerns the ability of Guantánamo detainees who have filed cases to challenge the factual and legal bases of their detention in federal court. The government to date has failed to provide a way for detainees to have, literally, their day in court. Although the appeal was argued in September 2005, the court recently asked for additional briefs to assess the impact of the Detainee Treatment Act.
The Liberty and National Security Project of the Brennan Center works to ensure accountability, transparency, and checks and balances in the formulation and implementation of national security policy. It is founded on the belief that these are vital for individual liberties and an effective and sustainable counter-terrorism strategy. The project published last year The Secrecy Problem in Terrorism Trials, by Professor Stephen Schulhofer and Serrin Turner. It has played an active role in public discourse on issues ranging from domestic spying to presidential power, and is counsel in pivotal cases implicating these national security issues.