Under the Constitution, every prisoner in U.S. custody has the right to legal representation and to due process, i.e. a trial (habeus corpus). Yet the detainees at Guantánamo, though afforded Combatant Status Review Tribunals, cannot have their own counsel at those hearings and have no meaningful way of contesting evidence, some of which is secret. To date, not one individual among the nearly 800 incarcerated at Guantánamo has been charged with a crime recognized under either U.S. or international law. Moreover, the Military Commissions Act (MCA) of 2006 is the latest attempt to strip captives of their right to argue their appeals in U.S. courts.
MCA is currently being challenged in two cases—al Odah v. United States of America and Boumediene v. Bush. Briefs in these cases argue that the Act is unconstitutional and that the retroactive suspension of the detainees’ right of habeas corpus does not apply to pending cases. These briefs focus on the Constitution’s Writ of Habeus Corpus, which states that such rights shall only be revoked at times of rebellion or invasion.”